Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Arnold Palmer Preview and FGR Rankings Update

With two WGC events already in the books this season and coming off another tournament won by some guy named Kevin, Scott or Michael, it's a good time for a FGR Rankings Update. Before we get to the current standings, I need to point out what I hope to be the final tweak to the system which is to add bonus points for winning PGA Tour and European Tour events that were not already included in the formula.* I initially wanted to avoid this because it would move the FGR ranking formula closer to that of the World Golf Rankings (the "WGR") but I couldn't continue to discount the quality non-major wins that Tiger and Rory have been racking-up since the start of 2012. When you're beating strong fields like those at the Memorial, the Farmers and the FedEx events, you deserve some credit. (Tell 'em Rock). I guess what I'm trying to say is that, if I can change and you can change . . . EVERYBODY CAN CHANGE.

We've been pushing beads
back and forth all morning
to make the numbers work.
Without boring you with a lot of fancy statistical analysis that you would need an abacus to understand, I will tell you that the effect of this change was that Tiger picked-up 12 points moving him from 8th in the rankings to 4th. It was not enough, however, for him to catch Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott who have far outperformed Tiger in Majors over the past two years and he's not even within shouting distance of Rory who is still undisputedly the best player in the world if we resist the urge to base that title on just what we've seen over the past eight weeks (more on that below). Here are the updated rankings:                      

         FGR Rankings            World Golf Rankings





1.McIlroy 154 McIlroy 11.47
2. Scott 91 Woods 10.48
3. Bradley 91 Donald 7.08
4. Woods 78 Snedeker 6.56
5. Kuchar 69 Rose 6.53
6. Donald 69 Oostuizen 6.23
7. Rose 67 Scott 6.00
8. Westwood 67 Stricker 5.93
9. Els 64 Kuchar 5.44
10. Schwartzel 64 Mickelson 5.41
11. Hanson 64 Westwood 5.36
12. Mickelson 60 Poulter 5.24
13. Day 59 B. Watson 5.12
14. McDowell 59 Bradley 5.06
15. Poulter 58 McDowell 4.98
16. B. Watson 57 Schwartzel 4.96
17. Dufner 56 Garcia 4.94
18. Simpson 55 Dufner 4.84
19. Oosthuizen 52 Simpson 4.69
20. Stricker 44 Hanson 4.48

Remember that the FGR ranking formula is weighted to award points based on the following order of importance: (1) winning majors, (2) winning WGC events, (3) finishing in the top ten in majors, (4) winning the Players, (5) finishing in the top ten in WGC events and (6) winning regular tour events, the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai. So before you bash the current rankings for placing Tiger 4th, remember that he would trade all five of his wins over the past two seasons for one major and then consider that he only has two top 10's in the last eight majors (3rd at the 2012 British and 4th at the 2011 Masters). Not only that, his only other top ten in a WGC event besides his recent win at Doral was a tie for 8th at the 2012 Bridgestone. Those are Justin Rose numbers.

Yeah that's great Keegan but can
you bring home the Canadian Open?
During that same span, Rory McIlroy has two major wins (2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship) and six top 10's in WGC events. Adam Scott has four top 10 finishes in majors including two 2nd's (2011 Masters and 2012 British Open) to go with his win at the 2011 Bridgestone. And Keegan Bradley, who may be the most underrated player by the WGR, has a win at the 2011 PGA Championship and a 3rd at the 2012 PGA Championship to go along with his win at the 2012 Bridgestone and top 10's in the last two WGC Cadillac events.**

So who is currently overrated by the WGR? How about Brandt Snedeker who is 4th despite the fact that his only top 10 in a major since 2010 was a tie for 3rd at the British Open where he started the third round leading eventual winner Ernie Els by 7 strokes and lost to him by 4 after shooting 73-74 on the weekend. His strong run to the FedEx Cup title and his ridiculously hot start this year may be a signal that he's ready to emerge but I generally like to see my top five players in the world contend for at least one major before granting them that status. But hey, that's just me.  

THE ARNOLD PALMER PREVIEW

On those rare occasions when Tiger doesn't own this tournament, we're still usually treated to a respectable champion like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh or Phil Mickelson so look for (and pray for) this year's winner to be one of the best players in the world to help bust us out of this recent Michael Thompson - Kevin Streelman - John Merrick funk we've slipped into. As of this moment, I'm still holding Justin Rose out for a major in my one and done league but I'm very tempted to start him here. Same goes for Graeme McDowell but I have this image of him haunting me later with another U.S. Open win and a new line of cardigan sweaters.
Lindsey and Tiger? It took 30 years but we finally found
something more high maintenance than the Fiat Spider.

The Overall Top Five

1. Tiger Woods
2. Graeme McDowell
3. Justin Rose
4. Ian Poulter
5. Bubba Watson

The One and Done Top Five

1. Ian Poulter
2. Bubba Watson
3. Peter Hanson
4. Lee Westwood
5. Sergio Garcia

Last Week's Report Card: B

1. Jason Dufner - 21st
2. Webb Simpson - 17th
3. Sergio Garcia - 7th
4. Luke Donald - 4th
5. Jason Day - 43rd

That's a pretty solid outing last week, especially by recent FGR standards. I went with Sergio and he was right in the hunt as one of the announcers noted that we could be heading to another playoff this year. Then I crashed on the couch and had a weird dream in which Kevin Streelman was standing on the 18th tee with a two shot lead and Boo Weekley shot 63 to finish second. I guess one man's dream is NBC Sports' nightmare. Let's hope that this week's loaded field inspires a slightly more intriguing finish.

Endnotes

* This would include all tournaments that are not majors, WGC events or the Players but not events that are played simultaneously with those tournaments like the Puerto Rico Open and the Reno-Tahoe Open. And don't bust my chops for continuing to rig my ranking system. They've been tinkering with the FedEx Cup for years and it's still the most ridiculous playoff system in sports that's not called the Chase for the Cup.

** And that doesn't include Bradley's awesome Ryder Cup performance when he almost surely would have made the difference if he wasn't left on the bench for what turned-out to be the pivotal match (more on that here). I guess his "problem" in the eyes of the WGR is that he only gets up for the big games.