Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The FGR Rankings Update

(Warning: It's about to get very golfy). Way back at the start of April in the year 2012, Luke Donald was deemed the best golfer on the planet according to the impenetrable formula used by the World Golf Rankings ("WGR"). And Donald's reign wasn't just a one week anomaly as he had topped the WGR for the better part of a year. We here at the FGR had a couple of problems with that. Most notably, the following: 

(1) Donald had never won a major and, despite a couple of top fives, had never really contended for one as he was the king crapping the bed on Saturday and then firing a pressure free Sunday 65 that would backdoor him a high finish. In a sport where greatness is measured by majors, how could he be considered great if he hadn't won one? There's a reason Colin Montgomerie is never mentioned among the best of all-time and it's not just because he was a prick (though that may have something to do with it); and


That was back in the good old days when
the FGR would have great pictures every
week without needing some lame excuse.
(2) In April of 2012, there was another player who had won the previous U.S. Open by 8 strokes, finished tied for 3rd in three other majors and had just beaten Tiger Woods by two at the Honda Classic. We watched him and thought "that fucking guy is way better than Luke Donald!" 

So we came-up with our own ranking formula based on majors and other tournaments with loaded fields that confirmed our theory that Player "B" was the best in the world. Since then, he has won three more majors, two World Golf Championship events and the FedEx Cup. During that same stretch, Luke Donald has won one European Tour event back in May of 2012 and fallen to 94th in the WGR. So as you can see, we here at the FGR and we here alone predicted that one day Rory McIlroy would be better than Luke Donald. No applause necessary. Really. Don't make it awkward.

We should really stop mocking the WGR for the whole Luke Donald thing because it's been irrelevant for years (to the extent it ever was relevant) and also because golf was suffering through a serious talent recession in 2011-12. Tiger's mini-comeback was just getting underway, we hadn't had a repeat major winner since Padraig Harrington in 2008 and the guys who were winning them included Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Y.E. Yang and Keegan Bradley. It had been so long since we'd seen great golf that we kind of forgot what it looked like. Before we knew it, it was midnight at the Cheesecake Factory and we were doing shots of sambuca as we stared across the bar at Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Steve Stricker thinking, "they're kinda hot."     

As we enter 2017, we're facing the opposite problem if you call having too many great golfers a problem. You could easily make the best player in the world case for five different guys and that wouldn't include Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas who might be playing the best golf right now. So with that in mind, and with no other topic presenting itself as I woke-up every hour last night with a sinus headache that made my head feel like a pinata in the Baltimore Orioles* clubhouse, we've decided to drag-out the old FGR rankings formula to determine who really is the best player in the game today. 


The formula is pretty basic. You get points for top ten finishes in majors, WGC events and The Players over the past two years as follows (we have very little respect for The Players as a tournament but the field is A+ and it appears to have finally grown-out of its Tim Clark/Stephen Ames/Fred Funk phase so we'll throw it a bone):



Majors
WGC Events
Players
1st
40
20
10
2nd
20
10
6
3rd
18
9
5
4th
16
8
4
5th
14
7
3
6th
12
6
2
7th
10
5
1
8th
8
4
1
9th
6
3
1
10th
4
2
1

You also get two points if you win a PGA Tour or European Tour event with a decent field (sorry Barracuda Championship) and you get points for finishing top five in the most recent FedEx Cup or Race to Dubai. One more thing. Recent success is rewarded so you get a 10 point bonus if you won the most recent major, an 8 point bonus for the second most recent, etc. and points from over twelve months ago are depreciated by 25%. One more last thing. There is the "Darren Clarke Rule" which states that you have to have at least three top tens in qualifying events over the last two years or two top tens AND a win in another tournament to be eligible. Jimmy Walker . . . you're on notice!  


So with all of that crammed into a spreadsheet, here is the FGR top 20 compared to the WGR top 20:


FGR Top 20

WGR Top 20

1
Johnson, D.
151
Day
9.98
2
Spieth
123
McIlroy
9.31
3
Day
117
Johnson, D.
9.11
4
Willett
79
Stenson
8.79
5
McIlroy
74
Matsuyama
8.70
6
Stenson
73
Spieth
8.59
7
Grace
63
Scott
5.87
8
Walker
56
Thomas
5.54
9
Oosthuizen
49
Garcia
5.36
10
Rose
47
Reed
5.15
11
Johnson, Z.
47
Noren
5.14
12
Scott
46
Rose
4.72
13
Garcia
44
Willett
4.70
14
Holmes
44
Fowler
4.65
15
Koepka
41
Watson, B.
4.56
16
Casey
40
Casey
4.24
17
Lowry
39
Grace
4.03
18
Matsuyama
39
Knox
3.98
19
Mickelson
35
Hatton
3.96
20
Furyk
34
Koepka
3.94

Now you can look at our rankings and question "Danny Willett over Rory McIlroy?" and "Matsuyama ranked 18th?" and "Louis Oosthuizen ranked at all?" We're responding that (1) Willett is the defending Masters champion and has had a bunch of other top tens in big events whereas McIlroy hasn't won a major since 2014 and has been in a deeper slump than most people realize, (2) a bunch of Matsuyama's world ranking points have been accumulated in tournaments with lesser fields and unsanctioned events like the Hero World Challenge** and (3) Oosthuizen finished runner-up at the 2016 Match Play, the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2015 British Open so eat it.

We'd fire back at the WGR with "Matsuyama over Spieth? Hideki's last eight major finishes are T4th, Cut, Cut, T7th, T37th, T18th, T18th and 5th and Spieth's are T13th, T30th, T37th, T2nd, 2nd, T4th, Win and Win?" And then we'd hit them with "Patrick Reed who's next top ten in a major will be his first at No. 10?" And as they're still reeling from that, we drop the hammer with "Alex Noren, who has only even qualified for four of the last eight majors, missing the cut twice and finishing T46th and T49th in the other two is the 11th best player in the world? Seriously? Do you get bonus points for wearing Hugo Boss and looking like an extra from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?" (GET 'EM A BODY BAG YEAH!!!)

Now all we get is this 
bullshit self-righteous angst.
Get over yourself already.
In the end it really comes down to this. Do you want to rank golfers based on week to week performances against journeyman fields using a formula where Brendan Steele's win at the Safeway Open (38.0 ranking points) against zero top ten players is worth roughly the same as J.B. Holmes' 3rd place finish at the British Open (40.0 ranking points) against pretty much every player in the top 50? Well you go right ahead but when you wake-up tomorrow morning at the Motel 6 as the meat in an Alex Noren/Patrick Reed sandwich, don't blame us because you snuck-out of the Cheesecake Factory before we could stop you. 

Footnote

* Your 2016 MLB team home run leader behind Chris Davis, Manny Machadew and Mark Trumbew hon!!!

** Under the WGR formula, Matsuyama received more ranking points for winning the Hero World Challenge (46.0) than Jim Furyk, Shane Lowry and Scott Piercy did for finishing 2nd at the U.S. Open (43.33). That's just fucking stupid and I could pretty much rest my case on that alone.   

Email the FGR at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com and follow us on Twitter at @FantasyGolfRep.