Thursday, March 13, 2014

The FGR Rankings Update: March 13, 2014

Quick, who's the best golfer in the world? If you go by the Official World Golf Rankings ("OWGR"), it's Tiger Woods followed by Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day and Phil Mickelson. However, if we based it on the first two and half months of 2014, Day would be the only one of those players worthy of a position on that list because, in addition to being the only one with a win in the first ten tournaments, he's also the only one with a top five finish. And that is the kind of climate that allows Patrick Reed to declare himself one of the five best players in the world and pretty much get away with it despite the fact that HE'S NEVER EVEN PLAYED IN A MAJOR!

Always remember to check
the gas lines on your kiln.
I suggest we use this time we have after the first two WGC events and a little less than a month before the Masters to gain some perspective. Let's start by laying down a few rules that we can apply when trying to determine who the best player in the world is. Rule No. 1: Nothing that happens in golf between the Tour Championship and the Masters really matters. The Tour Championship matters because it's inevitably worth $10M to the winner but also because the players are still in prime form as opposed to almost four months later (and longer in some cases) when they hit Hawaii looking like the Deltas the morning after their exploitation of Fawn Liebowitz' untimely demise. Rule No. 2: You don't get to be part of the conversation until you at least contend in a major.

As noted above, Patrick Reed's resume is a little thin but at least he has the marquee win from last week. That makes his resume look like Thomas Edison's compared to what Jimmy Walker (the other guy everyone seems to be confusing with Tom Watson) brings to the table including (a) three major appearances in the last eleven years that have yielded a tie for 21st and two missed cuts, (b) two WGC events where he finished tied for 17th and tied for 25th, and (c) never having qualified for the Tour Championship. So let's just dial-back the Reed and Walker chatter a bit until we've seen them accomplish something on the big stage. (And yes, I'm talking to you Patrick Reed).

Let's get back to the original question. Who is the best golfer in the world? Well, Sonja Henie's out* but fortunately the Fantasy Golf Report came-up with a scientific way to answer this question several years ago when the original formula for the FGR Rankings ("FGRR") was devised. The formula is just simple enough for me to understand but a bit too complicated to explain here. The basic tenets are these: (1) Majors won in the last twelve months earn lots of points followed by majors won the year before that, (2) coming in second in a major is worth almost as much as winning a WGC event, and (3) the regular tournaments that are won just as often by guys like Derek Ernst as they are by guys like Phil Mickelson ain't worth much. To put it in perspective, Mickelson earned 50 FGR points for winning the 2013 British Open and 2 FGR points for winning the 2013 Scottish Open because the last time I checked, they don't replay classic Scottish Opens on the Golf Channel.

What that means is that a guy like 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner who is ranked 17th in the OWGR is ranked 3rd in FGRR. If you have an issue with that, ask yourself whether Henrik Stenson, who is ranked 3rd in the OWGR, would trade his wins at the Tour Championship and the DP World Championship for Dufner's Wanamaker Trophy. I think he would (though the fact that it would probably cost him close to $20M might make him think twice about it). An even better question would be whether Tiger would trade his 2013 wins at the WGC-Cadillac, The Players and the Bridgestone for Adam Scott's green jacket and the answer to that one is not debatable.** In my mind, neither is the best player in the world right now because the numbers never lie (especially when I'm the one who made-up the numbers).    

The FGR Rankings Top Fifteen

1. Adam Scott - 114
2. Tiger Woods - 102
3. Jason Dufner - 100
4. Phil Mickelson - 97
5. Justin Rose - 88
6. Henrik Stenson - 74
7. Ernie Els - 73
8. Jason Day - 71
9. Rory McIlroy - 69
10. Ian Poulter - 67
11. Graeme McDowell - 62
12. Bubba Watson - 62
13. Matt Kuchar - 53
14. Webb Simpson - 48
15. Jim Furyk - 47

So that's the lens through which I see golf greatness and I'm pretty sure I have history on my side because no one cares that Tiger is on the verge of catching Sam Snead for most PGA Tour wins of all-time. The only historical golf scoreboard that matters currently reads: Jack Nicklaus - 18 . . . Tiger Woods - 14 and that is as it should be.

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In much the same way that Mila Kunis and
Elisha Cuthbert are successful Hollywood
actresses . . . in case you were confused.
* If you've ever wondered what in the hell Chevy Chase was talking about when he ruled-out Sonja Henie as a replacement for Al Czervik, here is your answer. Sonja Henie was a three time Olympic figure skating champion (1928, 1932 and 1936) who went on to become a successful Hollywood actress and the reason she could not play that day at Bushwood was because she had been dead for eleven years. So there you go.

** And what do you know, those three tournaments are worth 50 points combined or the same amount as last year's Masters. I love it when stuff like that happens.

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