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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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On Spec

On Spec: Dr. Paul Wood, Ping Golf’s VP of Engineering

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Host Ryan Barath talks all things design and innovation with VP of Engineering at Ping Golf, Dr. Paul Wood.

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

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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19th Hole

GolfWRXers Vote: Best U.S. Open venue showdown – Quarter-finals

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@neilhartmantv

There were no major shocks in round one of our GolfWRXers vote for best U.S. Open venue, but five-time host Olympic Club was a casualty, losing out to Pinehurst in what was our most competitive match-up. The west coast venue was defeated by a margin of 63% to 37%, in a round which saw the majority of match-ups prove comfortable for the heavy hitters. 

Here is a look at how WRXers voted during round one.

Game 1: Pebble Beach (90%) vs Torrey Pines South (10%)

Game 2: Winged Foot (81%) vs Oakland Hills (19%)

Game 3: Baltusrol (73%) vs Chambers Bay (27%)

Game 4: Pinehurst Resort No.2 (63%) vs Olympic Club (37%)

Game 5: Oakmont (74%) vs Bethpage Black (26%)

Game 6: Southern Hills (76%) vs Olympia Fields (24%)

Game 7: Merion (90%) vs Erin Hills (10%)

Game 8: Shinnecock (86%) vs Congressional (14%)

Now we’re onto the quarter-finals, with some tasty match-ups. We’ll leave voting open for 48 hours. At that time, we’ll determine the winners and lock in our semi-finalists.

Get voting!

*Years hosted, winners and avg. winning score from 1950 onwards*

QF 1

Pebble Beach

  • Years Hosted: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
  • Winners: Nicklaus (+2), Watson (-6), Kite (-3), Woods (-12), McDowell (E), Woodland (-13)
  • Avg. winning score: -5.33

Winged Foot GC

  • Years Hosted: 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006
  • Winners: Casper (+2), Irwin (+7), Zoeller (-7), Ogilvy (+5)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.75

QF 1

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QF 2

Baltusrol GC

  • Years Hosted: 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
  • Winners: Furgol (+4), Nicklaus (-5), Nicklaus (-8), Janzen (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -4.25

Pinehurst Resort (No 2.)

  • Years Hosted: 1995, 2005, 2014
  • Winners: Stewart (-1), Campbell (E), Kaymer (-9)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.33

QF2

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QF 3

Oakmont CC

  • Years Hosted: 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
  • Winners: Hogan (-5), Nicklaus (-1), Miller (-5), Nelson (-4), Els (-5), Cabrera (+5), Johnson (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -2.71

Southern Hils CC

  • Years Hosted: 1958, 1977, 2001
  • Winners: Bolt (+3), Green (-2), Goosen (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

QF 3

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QF 4

Merion GC

  • Years Hosted: 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Trevino (E), Graham (-7), Rose (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: (+0.25)

Shinnecock Hills GC

  • Years Hosted: 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
  • Winners: Floyd (-1), Pavin (E), Goosen (-4), Koepka (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

QF 4

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Opinion & Analysis

Clark: A teacher’s take on Brandel Chamblee’s comments

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Because I’m writing to a knowledgeable audience who follows the game closely, I’m sure the current Brandel Chamblee interview and ensuing controversy needs no introduction, so let’s get right to it.

Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player, now plays a role as a TV personality. He has built a “brand” around that role. The Golf Channel seems to relish the idea of Brandel as the “loose cannon” of the crew (not unlike Johnny Miller on NBC) saying exactly what he thinks with seeming impunity from his superiors.

I do not know the gentleman personally, but on-air, he seems like an intelligent, articulate golf professional, very much on top of his subject matter, which is mostly the PGA Tour. He was also a very capable player (anyone who played and won on the PGA Tour is/was a great player). But remember, nowadays he is not being judged by what scores he shoots, but by how many viewers/readers his show and his book have (ratings). Bold statements sell, humdrum ones do not.

For example, saying that a teacher’s idiocy was exposed is a bold controversial statement that will sell, but is at best only partly true and entirely craven. If the accuser is not willing to name the accused, he is being unfair and self-serving. However, I think it’s dangerous to throw the baby out with the bathwater here; Brandel is a student of the game and I like a lot of what he says and thinks.

His overriding message in that interview is that golf over the last “30-40 years” has been poorly taught. He says the teachers have been too concerned with aesthetics, not paying enough attention to function. There is some truth in that, but Brandel is painting with a very broad brush here. Many, myself included, eschewed method teaching years ago for just that reason. Method teachers are bound to help some and not others. Maybe the “X swing” one player finds very useful, another cannot use it all.

Brandel was asked specifically about Matthew Wolff’s unique swing: Lifting the left heel, crossing the line at the top, etc. He answered, “of course he can play because that’s how he plays.” The problem would be if someone tried to change that because it “looked odd.” Any teacher worth his weight in salt would not change a swing simply because it looked odd if it was repeating good impact. I learned from the great John Jacobs that it matters not what the swing looks like if it is producing great impact.

Now, if he is objecting exclusively to those method teachers who felt a certain pattern of motions was the one true way to get to solid impact, I agree with him 100 percent. Buy many teach on an individual, ball flight and impact basis and did not generalize a method. So to say “golf instruction over the last 30-40 years” has been this or that is far too broad a description and unfair.

He goes on to say that the “Top Teacher” lists are “ridiculous.” I agree, mostly. While I have been honored by the PGA and a few golf publications as a “top teacher,” I have never understood how or why. NOT ONE person who awarded me those honors ever saw me give one lesson! Nor have they have ever tracked one player I coached.  I once had a 19 handicap come to me and two seasons later he won the club championship-championship flight! By that I mean with that student I had great success. But no one knew of that progress who gave me an award.

On the award form, I was asked about the best, or most well-known students I had taught. In the golf journals, a “this-is-the-teacher-who-can-help-you” message is the epitome of misdirection. Writing articles, appearing on TV, giving YouTube video tips, etc. is not the measure of a teacher. On the list of recognized names, I’m sure there are great teachers, but wouldn’t you like to see them teach as opposed to hearing them speak? I’m assuming the “ridiculous” ones Brandel refers to are those teaching a philosophy or theory of movement and trying to get everyone to do just that.

When it comes to his criticism of TrackMan, I disagree. TrackMan does much more than help “dial in yardage.” Video cannot measure impact, true path, face-to-path relationship, centeredness of contact, club speed, ball speed, plane etc. Comparing video with radar is unfair because the two systems serve different functions. And if real help is better ball flight, which of course only results from better impact, then we need both a video of the overall motion and a measure of impact.

Now the specific example he cites of Jordan Spieth’s struggles being something that can be corrected in “two seconds” is hyperbolic at least! Nothing can be corrected that quickly simply because the player has likely fallen into that swing flaw over time, and it will take time to correct it. My take on Jordan’s struggles is a bit different, but he is a GREAT player who will find his way back.

Brandel accuses Cameron McCormick (his teacher) of telling him to change his swing.  Do we know that to be true, or did Jordan just fall into a habit and Cameron is not seeing the change? I agree there is a problem; his stats prove that, but before we pick a culprit, let’s get the whole story. Again back to the sensationalism which sells! (Briefly, I believe Jordan’s grip is and has always been a problem but his putter and confidence overcame it. An active body and “quiet” hands is the motion one might expect of a player with a strong grip-for obvious reason…but again just my two teacher cents)

Anyway, “bitch-slapped” got him in hot water for other reasons obviously, and he did apologize over his choice of words, and to be clear he did not condemn the PGA as a whole. But because I have disagreements with his reasoning here does not mean Brandel is not a bright articulate golf professional, I just hope he looks before he leaps the next time, and realizes none of us are always right.

Some of my regular readers will recall I “laid down my pen” a few years ago, but it occurred to me, I would be doing many teachers a disservice if I did not offer these thoughts on this particular topic!

 

 

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