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Nine Holes With Jimmy Walker

Mar. 12, 2014     By     Comments (0)

ProfilesThanks to the PGA Tour's new "wraparound" schedule that starts in the Fall, and some timely great play of course, Jimmy Walker is the PGA Tour's hottest golfer. After spending years making his way up through the mini-tour and Web.com Tour ranks, Walker spent a handful of years as a winless journeyman PGA Tour player before breaking through last October.

Wins at the Frys.com Open, Sony Open, and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am rocketed Walker to the top of both the FedExCup points standings and the money list. Let's find out where he came from.

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TaylorMade JetSpeed Fairway Wood Review

Mar. 2, 2014     By     Comments (1)

TaylorMade JetSpeed Fairway SoleAfter several years of the RocketBallz woods occupying TaylorMade's consumer-oriented lineup, TM released the JetSpeed line late in 2013. Eschewing much of the look behind the RBZ woods (white crown on black face, bold graphics) and building upon the recent hype of their own SpeedPocket technology, the JetSpeed is somewhat of a tuned-down design.

There's no promise of a dozen extra yards here, despite what you might expect from TaylorMade. The JetSpeed isn't adjustable in any way, and there's no tour-level option. You won't find #JetSpeed trending any time soon.

And yet, it's earned a spot in my bag. Keep reading to find out why.

Volume Three Hundred Seventy-Five

Feb. 24, 2014     By     Comments (0)

Hittin the LinksHello fans of golf, and welcome to this week's Hittin' the Links. We take a look at the PGA Tour's first great finish at 2014 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, then meander our way from Michael Sam to Miguel Angel.

During a week when the northeastern United States experienced it's first snow melt of the year, the PGA Tour heated up just as fast, thanks to a few unbelievable shots from Frenchman Victor Dubuisson. Let's hit the links.

Five Predictions for 2014

Jan. 30, 2014     By     Comments (2)

Trap Five Logo2014 is going to be an interesting year. We've got Rory McIlroy trying to recapture his pre-2013 form; Phil Mickelson giving the career grand slam another go at Pinehurst; Jordan Spieth and a number a young players looking to make the leap; and of course Tiger Woods six years removed from his last major championship win.

Let's get to it.

Measuring Time Since Tiger’s Last Major Win

Dec. 20, 2013     By     Comments (2)

Trap Five LogoDuring the PGA Championship coverage, as it became clear that 2013 would be another winless major championship season for Tiger Woods, CBS aired a graphic that included the exact date of Tiger Woods' last major win.

June 16, 2008.

What were you doing on June 16th, 2008, besides watching a wounded Tiger limp around Torrey Pines, while Rocco Mediate slowly let his only real shot at a U.S. Open slip through his grasp? I was finishing my sophomore year - of high school. I couldn't so much as drive a car.

It's been over 5 years since that date. For comparison, Tiger won seven majors in the five-year span from 1999 to 2003. He won six over five years from 2005 to 2009. And he hasn't won a single one since.

Here's what the world has been up to.

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How EA Sports Can Revive the PGA Tour Video Games Sans Tiger

Dec. 3, 2013     By     Comments (7)

Trap Five LogoAccording to a statement released by EA Sports recently, the video game giant and golfer Tiger Woods have severed ties.

According to who you believe, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video games already appeared to be on the rocks, and the '15 edition (to be released in 2014) will be either delayed until at least April or not sent to market at all.

Neither option would be all that unheard-of; EA has monkeyed with the release dates for the Tiger Woods games before. The games were released in the fall every year between 2003 and 2007, until moving towards the late summer for the 2008 version and earlier in the summer for 2010. In 2012 EA cut a deal to include Augusta National in the game, and worked hard to push it out before The Masters.

EA is also no stranger to cutting off a game entirely. They dropped the MVP Baseball series after 2007 (mostly because rival 2K Sports signed an exclusivity deal with MLB in response to EA's similar deal with the NFL), and have yet to pick the series back up even after the 2K/MLB deal expired. After their NBA Live 10 game received (justifiably) terrible reviews, they cancelled its follow-up, NBA Elite 11, at the last minute, and haven't released a basketball game since despite relatively weak releases from 2K (though NBA Live 14 is set to come back later this year).

It remains to be seen what exactly the ramifications of the Tiger/EA separation are. I suppose it's possible that Tiger remains in the game as a playable character, though his days on the cover are surely gone.

The games remain different year-over-year, but the yearly releases have become frustrating. Excess players, expensive extra courses, and rotating single player modes have made the games stale, and while the extra space of Blu-Rays and larger on-board stock hard drives should help them, EA needs to make some deep changes. Here are a few things I think could get the PGA Tour video game series off and running again.

Why Tiger Should Win the 2013 PGA Tour Player of the Year Award

Sep. 26, 2013     By     Comments (5)

Thrash TalkTiger Woods has had a spectacular year by all accounts. Five PGA Tour wins and not a single missed cut, but no major victories. And that hurts, sure, but how much? Well, that's what I am here to identify.

There's a relatively simply stat that goes a bit beyond Old Man Par, called "z-score." Z-score is simply a way of comparing how someone scores to how the rest of the field scored. For instance, during Jim Furyk's 59 at the BMW Championship, the average score for all players that made the cut that week was 71.086. Z-score compares the player's score to that average, and uses the standard deviation of the round's scores to measure just how tough the course was playing on a given day. The number that the relatively simple formula spits out is a representation of how many standard deviations a player's score was from the course average. Only the scores from players that made the cut are used, otherwise you would not be able to compare Thursday and Friday rounds to weekend rounds. (Players who missed the cut are, by definition, playing worse, and not having their scores in the weekend course averages would made it look like the course was playing much easier.)

A simple explanation about the ramifications of z-score is that despite shooting a 69 on Saturday and a 67 on Sunday at the TOUR Championship, Tiger's Saturday z-score was actually better because the course played two shots easier on Sunday, and because the field's standard deviation that day was a bit higher.

Using the tournament leaderboards from Yahoo! Sports (the PGATour.com ones were a bit tougher to import into a spreadsheet), I plotted an entire season's worth of z-scores. (You can email or PM me for the full spreadsheet if you'd like.) I calculated the z-score for every player for every round, and then picked out the records of the PGA Tour Player of the Year finalists: Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, and Phil Mickelson.

How did they fare statistically? Read on the find out.

Graphing the World Rankings

Sep. 15, 2013     By     Comments (1)

xxxxA few months ago, back when Tiger was chasing down the number one ranking, I got an idea: Why not graph out the trajectories of the world's top players over their careers, using the official data available on the Official Golf World Rankings website? At the time, the OWGR site only provided downloadable player data back until about 2003, which is fine for the careers of Rory McIlroy and Brand Snedeker, but, as you'll see below, the Phil Mickelson graph from 2003 on is relatively boring.

Thankfully, when I looked at the data again this month, they had expanded the data all the way back to their career beginnings. Ernie Els, for instance, the oldest player I tracked, has data going back to 1989.

So this is what I decided to do: I got the points tally and OWGR ranking data for the top 15 players in the world as of July 7th (a while ago, I know, but it takes a while to compile and graph all of the data), and graphed both sets. The OWGR points and rankings are through that same day, so they do not include Phil Mickelson's Scottish Open win or his British Open title. Tiger's Bridgestone win is similarly unrepresented.

I decided to normalize the y-axes with a maximum of 25 points and a 500 ranking for comparison's sake, though with some of the more consistent golfers (Tiger, Phil, Ernie for much of the mid-2000s) that is a bit to their detriment (in that you can't see the more slight variations). The x-axes are different for each player, going back to the very beginnings of their pro careers. The OWGR data can get a bit wonky at the very beginnings of the data, which you can see pretty easily in the Tiger and Rory graphs. The y-axes cutoffs do minimize that a bit.

At the beginning I've also created two graphs, which superimpose data for all 15 players dating back to 2003.

If graphs aren't your thing, well, read the captions and enjoy the colors. And if you have to use Excel all day at your job, fear not, for I used the Apple app, Numbers.

OWGR Graphs July 2013 Top 15 Points

OWGR Graphs July 2013 Top 15 Ranking

Five Tour Roundup: July 2013

Jul. 30, 2013     By     Comments (0)

Trap Five LogoHere in the U.S., there are five golf tours aired on television: the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, the European Tour, the Web.com Tour, and the Champions Tour. Since we're about halfway through the season, it seems like now would be a good time to recap the action throughout the world of golf.

The PGA Tour has seen occasional dominance of four-time winner Tiger Woods, though he's shrunken during crunch time at the majors. The opposite could be said for Inbee Park, six-time winner on the LPGA Tour this year, and current grand slam candidate with three major wins thus far. The Web.com and Champions Tours each have a single multiple-time winner, while the Euro Tour has just two.

Let's get to it.

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