PGA Tour player performance is something that fans and media alike are always measuring and sharing their opinions about. When these matters are discussed between friends, enemies, co-workers, spouses, in-laws – there is always some disagreement. Some people like to measure the entire season’s performance when evaluating a golfer, and some employ the “What have you done for me lately?” school of thought. I always thought there was something to be said for both sides.
I wanted to find a way that I can measure a Tour player’s performance over the course of a season, but also keep in mind how hot (or cold) a player is to help me predict what they may (or may not) do in the future. The FedExCup standings does a good job of tracking a player’s season, but let’s look at it this way: if you only played in two PGA Tour tournaments and won them, you would have 1,000 FedEx Cup points (assuming one of them wasn’t a major). With those numbers at playoff time, you could play in every other tournament, not make a cut, and be in the top 30 in the FedEx cup standings! What I’m telling you is that you can’t judge a golfer by those standings alone.
So I invented a system that takes those FedExCup standings, puts them through a series of number crunches and put together my own Power Ranking to give you a mix of how good these players actually are, meshing together their season performance and recent performance in an effort to quell the arguments between you and your loved (or not so loved) ones.
Let’s take a look at who owns the top ten spots going into the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
1. Brandt Snedeker
It’s no surprise that the guy who has three top-3s to start the 2013 season is No. 1 on this list. Starting off his year with a third place finish at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions and putting together back-to-back second place finishes these last two weeks, Sneds is showing us that he wants to be the first person ever to defend their FedEx Cup title.
2. Phil Mickelson
With a dominating performance at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, highlighted by his first round performance where he had a chance of shooting a 59 on TOUR, this west coast swing is where Phil does damage. You have to believe after the week he’s had, and going up to Pebble Beach this week to a tournament that he won last year, he will be the favorite to win.
3. Brian Gay
With a win at the Humana Challenge and a respectable T24 finish at the Phoenix Open, Gay is putting together a great start to his season. The 41-year-old tends to have good early season form shown, which is confusing because he has not put himself in the field this week at Pebble, a tournament he finished T20 at last year.
4. Russell Henley
You’ve got to be impressed with a 23 year-old that wins the first full-field tournament of the year, which was also his first start as a PGA Tour rookie. He has made the cut in all three of his starts this season, where he has only shot one round over par. There is a host of young talent on tour right now, and Henly is poised to show us that he can compete with the best.
5. Charles Howell III
Howell already has three top-10 finishes in 2013, including a playoff loss to Brian Gay at the Humana Challenge. He’s taking a week off this week after playing four consecutive weeks, but look for him on the front page of leader boards in the tournaments to come.
6. Dustin Johnson
DJ came out with guns blazing in 2013, taking home a trophy in the winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions. We know what Johnson can do off of the tee, but the improvement in his short game has been scary good over the past years, increasing his rank in Strokes Gained-Putting from 171st in 2011, to 51st last year. With this much of a short game improvement, look for him at the top of the leader board this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which he won in 2009 and 2010.
7. Bubba Watson
Bubba put together a good start to his season, finishing T4 the Tournament of Champions and solo 15th at the Phoenix Open. He recent years, the 2012 Masters champ has really turned himself into an all-around player, instead of just being known for his long ball. He hasn’t shot a round over par yet this season, and finished off the Phoenix Open with a bogey free round of 7-under 64.
8. Ryan Palmer
Ryan Palmer put together a hot start to his 2013 campaign, his best start since 2010, picking up two top-10s in his first three events. Most recently, he notched a solo 5th place finish this past week in Phoenix. He has been hitting the ball beautifully, and he will be looking to keep this hot start going this week at Pebble Beach, a tournament where he finished T29 last year.
9. Robert Garrigus
Garrigus has had an absolutely sensational start to his year by finishing T16, T6, and T11 in his three starts so far. Robert has been long off the tee, averaging over 306 yards, and has hit almost 78 percent of greens in regulation. That is going to be a killer combination this week if he can keep up this stellar ball striking trend, going to a tournament where he finished T20 last year.
10. Nick Watney
The Nike newcomer rounds out the top 10 this week by way of a T13 finish in Kapalua, along with a T4 at the Farmers Insurance Open. It seems that Nick has taken a liking to his new equipment, because he has been striking the ball wonderfully to start off the year. Watney will be in the field for the Pro-Am as he has been his entire career, where he hasn’t missed a cut since 2004. Over that span, he has also managed to pick up two top-10s. Expect more of the same this year.