Last week’s Numbers Game on Tiger and Phil was titled “Part One,” so you knew more was coming. If you read the comments, you may have guessed what else was on its way. Erik suggested that averaging the entire field may show that Tiger plays the tougher fields, but that the numbers get a lot closer simply due to the fact that a PGA Tour field has 144 players, many of whom are ranked 300th or worse. Erik suggested that we look at the average rank of the top players in the field and the number of players ranked a certain rank or better.
I chose the number 30, so this week we’ll look at the average rank of the top 30 players and the number of players ranked 30th or higher in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Let’s first take a look at the numbers involved for each player for the past year. Tournaments with an asterisk (*) are tournaments in which both Tiger and Phil played.
The first column (Average) in the tables below represents the average ranking of the top thirty ranked golfers in each event. The second column (Count) represents the number of players ranked 30th or higher in the field.
Tournament Average Count Finish ---------- Buick Invitational* 38.77 10 1 Nissan Open 26.23 17 WD WGC - Accenture Match Play* 16.93 28 T9 Ford Championship at Doral* 28.20 18 1 Bay Hill Invitational 26.53 16 T20 THE PLAYERS Championship* 16.73 28 T22 Masters Tournament* 15.97 29 T3 U.S. Open Championship* 17.27 27 CUT Cialis Western Open* 31.70 14 T2 British Open Championship* 16.70 28 1 Buick Open 44.93 7 1 PGA Championship* 15.87 29 1 WGC - Bridgestone Invitational* 16.03 29 1 Deutsche Bank Championship 64.87 4 1 WGC - American Express Champ. 17.50 27 1 ----------------------------- ----- -- Averages 26.28 20.73 No Phil Events 36.01 14.20
Tournament Average Count Finish ---------- Bob Hope Chrysler Classic 50.53 6 T5 Buick Invitational* 38.77 10 T8 FBR Open 36.53 10 T7 AT&T Pebble Beach National 53.73 9 T38 WGC - Accenture Match Play* 16.93 28 T9 Ford Championship at Doral* 28.20 18 T12 THE PLAYERS Championship* 16.73 28 T14 BellSouth Classic 42.67 13 1 Masters Tournament* 15.97 29 1 Zurich Classic of New Orleans 56.13 7 T15 Wachovia Championship 26.07 17 T35 the Memorial Tournament 23.97 19 T4 Barclays Classic 26.67 18 T18 U.S. Open Championship* 17.27 27 T2 Cialis Western Open* 31.70 14 T65 British Open Championship* 16.70 28 T22 The INTERNATIONAL 42.53 11 CUT PGA Championship* 15.87 29 T16 WGC - Bridgestone Invitational* 16.03 29 T54 ----------------------------- ----- -- Averages 30.16 18.42 No Tiger Events 39.87 12.22
Before we dive into the facts these numbers illustrate, let’s first discuss their meaning. The first column averages the world ranking of the 30 highest ranked players in the field. The lower this number is, the stronger the presence of the top 30 players. The lowest possible average is 15.5, representing an event in which each of the top 30 ranked players compete.
The second column lists the number of top-30 ranked golfers in the field. The higher the number, the more top thirty players are in the field. Obviously, the highest rank you can get here is thirty.
So what can they tell us? The thing which sticks out most when I look at the numbers is the difference between the “no-Phil/Tiger” events. When Phil isn’t playing and Tiger is, an average of 14.20 players from the top 30 entered into the event. If Phil is playing without Tiger – only 12.22 players from the top 30 tee it up.
The weakest field events that Tiger played in last year were the Deutsche Bank Championship (37.77 average, 10 players, Tiger won), the Buick Open (44.93 average, 7 players, Tiger won) and the Buick Invitational (average 64.87, 4 players [one of which was Phil], Tiger won).
Phil’s weakest events were the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (average 56.13, 7 players, T15), the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (average 56.73, 9 players, T38) and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (average 50.53, 6 players, T5).
Now wait a minute. I thought it was supposed to be easier when there weren’t as many top thirty players in the field? Why would Phil’s best finish in his weakest events be a tie for fifth?
Tiger and Phil will naturally play in many of the same strong-field events. Of the top three in both players’ lists, Tiger won two of them (PGA Championship and the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational) and finished third in the other (The Masters). Phil won one and finished T16 and T54 in the others. Not quite as impressive as two wins and a third.
Taking into account all events played in 2006 for Tiger we find that he was getting an average of 20.73 players from the top thirty in the same events as him while Phil is only getting 18.42. This is a huge difference and shows that Tiger really is the better player playing the stronger field events… which in turn shows us how much stronger of a player over Phil he really is.
This article was written by guest author Harry Solomon, an active member of our forum.