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Opinion & Analysis

The Real Top 10: PGA Tour Power Rankings

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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

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

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

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

Russel Henly

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

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

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 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

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

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

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.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

 

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Nick is a true New Englander with a love for Boston sports, and carries a deep passion for golf and hockey. He played hockey collegiately, but has since focused mainly on golf. When Nick isn't working on his swing, you can find him sharing his sports opinions, or earning a living as chemist.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Marc Kilgore

    Feb 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    What the heck is this list? It makes no sense. These are not all guys playing at Pebble Beach. Tiger is not on the list. It’s not April 1st.
    Confused?

  2. Bobby Jones

    Feb 6, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Wish I could have my 60 seconds back from reading this “Real Top 10” list.

  3. Anthony Kelley

    Feb 6, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Guys….Chill out. I’m sure this list is based on who is in the “top ten spots going into the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am”. Quoting that from the statement above, assuming that it is based on active players on the field. Obviously if Tiger was playing, he would be part of this list but he’s not playing.

  4. Alex Lackner

    Feb 6, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Bad morals or not, tiger should be on this list

  5. J

    Feb 5, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    I don’t even like Tiger Woods, he’s a rotten example to anyone with morals or manners… But you make a top 10 guys of the year so far and he’s left off… And he won? Garrigus? Not even a top 5… Really? Wow man…rethink your writing skills…that’s seriously biased.

    • Blanco

      Feb 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Are people genuinely convinced they know “the real Tiger Woods,” based on 20 years of IMG branding followed by three years of relentless scandal gossip?

      “Tiger” is a world-class athlete and competitor to his fans, and the embodiment of cold immorality to his critics. I doubt anyone on Golfwrx knows a thing about Eldrick Woods the human being and father.

      All I know is that he’s an amazing golfer, most worthy of this list, and an inherently flawed individual, just like you and I.

      • J

        Feb 7, 2013 at 11:55 pm

        Convinced they know the real Tiger Woods? Nope… And mistakes are mistakes… A habit is not a mistake. He should have been on this list. Sill the top golfer in the world.

  6. Mateo

    Feb 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    ummmmmmmmmm Tiger Woods???
    This list is a joke.

  7. mlamb

    Feb 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Umm … Tiger? He has a win.

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Opinion & Analysis

High School reunion golf: When 58 feels like 18 again

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golf buddies reunion

Eric and David were winning our match as we approached the halfway point of the back nine at Falls Road Golf Club in Potomac, Md. But when my partner, Chip, yes, chipped in for eagle, their 15-footer for eagle suddenly seemed doubly long. David’s exuberant fist pump after draining his putt to match us said it all – the juices were flowing, and the match wasn’t going to be lost due to lackluster play or attitude. That we were paired together in a reunion tournament 40 years after the Class of 1978 graduated from Winston Churchill High School mattered not. We were athletes then – all four of us played on a Maryland state championship football team together – and, by gosh, our competitiveness was on full throttle now.

The years melted away as we traded stories about yesteryear and we learned about each other’s lives in the four-decade interim. Family and golf are shared passions, and our match showed it. While we were happily catching up in laughs and nostalgia, both teams clearly wanted to win. For bragging rights, of course. Once competitors, always competitors.

Cut to the past: David and Chip went on to play college baseball, while I stayed briefly with football, and Eric went forward playing basketball. Eric was such a gifted athlete that he not only quarterbacked our high school team to a senior year state championship (we also won it our junior year), he led the basketball team to a state title as well. A hoops scholarship to Georgetown followed, where he captained Coach John Thompson’s team his senior year. His teammates included Patrick Ewing, now Georgetown’s coach, among others. If you want to see Eric in action, Google “Michael Jordan game-winning jump shot in national championship.” You’ll find video clips of Eric (pictured below) running at Jordan a hair too late to stop His Airness from elevating and nailing the game-winning jump shot for North Carolina.

georgetown university north carolina national basketball championship 1982

Eric gets there too late to stop MJ’s game-winner in the national championship.

All to say that competition and living the athletic physical life contributed to our formation as people, and while we’re well removed from our peak years, we continue to pursue the pleasure that such activities afford. I’m still playing competitive baseball, and I’m trying to get David to join my team for the coming season, and a few other guys who I ran into at the reunion party the next night – Jimmy Flaikas, Mitch Orcutt, and Brian Hacker. How great it would be for us five former high school baseball teammates to be back on the diamond together. Priceless!

Jimmy and David have concerns about the physical demands, among other things, and whether their bodies are up to it. They’re both in great shape, so I’m confident they would do well. But they’re wise to weigh this carefully; discretion is the better part of valor when aging, after all. And that’s why golf is ideally suited to our current places in the circle of life. No torn meniscus or sprained ankles to be suffered, no concussions or broken bones forthcoming. Instead, we carelessly joked and competed with joyful appreciation of reconnecting through the game during our reunion weekend.

That golf is a lifelong game is one of its most appealing aspects. Perhaps it’s even an after-life game, as two elderly gentlemen illuminated. Lifelong friends now in their 80s, one of them fell deathly ill. His friend visited one last time and they reminisced about the good times shared through the game. As they parted, the friend said to his dying companion, “Do me a favor – let me know if there’s golf in heaven when you get there.” His friend promised he would and then he passed on peacefully that night. The next night, his friend was sleeping when he heard a voice. “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is, there’s golf in heaven; the bad news is, you have a tee time tomorrow morning.”

Fore! Now and forever.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Bear Slide Golf Club in Cicero, Indiana

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member AUTIGER07, who takes us to Bear Slide Golf Club in Cicero, Indiana. From the horse’s mouth, Bear Slide Golf Club offers a “Scottish links-style front nine and a traditional style back nine”, and in AUTIGER07’s description of the course, he highlights the tracks excellent variety of different holes on offer.

“Played this quite a bit when I lived in Indianapolis. Was always in really solid shape and the course provides a good mix of short-to-long holes. Pace of play used to be very enjoyable, and you never felt “rushed” during the round.”

According to Bear Slide Golf Club’s website, 18 holes around the course during the week will set you back $39, while the rate rises to $55 if you want to play on the weekend.

@joel63763660

@thelgcsaa

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole (Ep 63): Valentino Dixon talks Golf Channel documentary; Marvin Bush remembers his father

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Valentino Dixon shares his amazing story in an exclusive interview with Michael Williams. Also in this episode: a tribute to George H.W. Bush, featuring a conversation with his youngest son, Marvin.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

featured image c/o Golf Channel

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19th Hole

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