"He's on a hot streak."
"Rory just can't miss right now."
"You want Webb Simpson on your fantasy team this week, he's been playing great the last few months."
The hot streak. Long defended by athletes, denounced by statisticians. It pops up in discussions about three-point shooting, batting titles, and blackjack, but I want to talk about golf.
I don't really care about putting hot streaks, and it would have taken me a decade to comb though the data to chart individual rounds, but there was one thing I could check out: tournament finishes.
I wanted to see how a player's finish in one tournament ("event A") could be used to predict their finish in the next tournament ("event B").
My hypothesis going in was, with some reservations, that there must be something to the hot-hand theory. We've all seen the kind of streaks Tiger and Rory have gone on where they seemingly can't miss a putt, and we've all had our own streaks where nothing seems to go straight. I figured most pros would go through the same thing.
But the results told a largely different story.