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US Ryder Cup - What if there were no automatic qualifiers?

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54 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

I see your point. But consider this. The Ryder Cup is an exhibition match. That is really how it started. Do you want to see the biggest names in golf in the exhibition or some less prominent players that may do better in one cup because they may be playing better at the moment? I think the viewing public wants to see the big names.

That is the question isn't it, is the Ryder Cup an exhibition or a international competition that has deeper meaning for European and US golfers?   I consider professional sports all-star games exhibitions but I place the Ryder Cup more in line with the Olympics.  The PGA Pro Tour and European Tour seem to be competitive, vying to attract the largest money tournaments and best golfers.  

Maybe the PGA Pro Tour problem is the Euro guys approach this like an event that has meaning beyond an exhibition where as our guys want to have fun and without big prize money on the line the motivation to win isn't as great.  

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18 hours ago, neophyte said:

If a player can't produce a winning record in 3 ryder cups he shouldn't play.   All he does is put points on the European side of the scoreboard.

We have used 3 of the greatest stroke play players of today and each one has had total losing records.  What would our Ryder cup record be if Tiger, Phil and Jim had each one produced one more win point than losses each year. Transfer three points from the european score to the American side. 

That's brilliant. Past Captains should have replaced the automatic qualifying and GOAT or near-GOAT, Tiger Woods with the 100th ranked player who surely would have played better golf than him? Quality of opponents or relative strength of your partner for the format have nothing to do with a player's match record?

If the Euros had done that in the 70's and 80's it would have let the U.S. win a bunch more by keeping some of the better more consistent players off the team. Would the Euro team be stronger with all Westwoods or all Rorys?

Edited by natureboy

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9 hours ago, newtogolf said:

Maybe the PGA Pro Tour problem is the Euro guys approach this like an event that has meaning beyond an exhibition where as our guys want to have fun and without big prize money on the line the motivation to win isn't as great.  

I'd agree this has at least some effect, if only on the behind the scenes preparation by the Captains and assistants. The Euro system became smooth and regular. Less distracting and more calming for the players than the historically more ad-hoc approach by the U.S. I think at least for some U.S. players they almost take it too seriously and get tight. I think personal / tour / national pride matters a lot to these guys.

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4 minutes ago, natureboy said:

I'd agree this has at least some effect, if only on the behind the scenes preparation by the Captains and assistants. The Euro system became smooth and regular. Less distracting and more calming for the players than the historically more ad-hoc approach by the U.S. I think at least for some U.S. players they almost take it too seriously and get tight. I think personal / tour / national pride matters a lot to these guys.

The pressure is on the US now to win given they've been on a losing streak.  

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16 hours ago, boogielicious said:

...Do you want to see the biggest names in golf in the exhibition or some less prominent players that may do better...

I must admit, I think I just want the win.

Edit: 'merica.

Edited by roamin

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On 9/6/2016 at 8:47 PM, natureboy said:

Bubba's stronger record in Ryder Cup vs. President's Cup is likely due to the level of the competition and the relative pressure.Other than his rookie Ryder Cup against MAJ (probably a savvy short game and solid putting), Bubba's had pretty strong opponents (Donald and Kaymer both former world #1's) in singles. Don't put him in the first or last singles match.

Correction, don't put him in the first singles match or matches 8-10. That said, he seems to be playing himself out of consideration given his current play vs. the field of 70.

http://www.golfchannel.com/media/feherty-paul-mcginleys-special-ryder-cup-memory

Edited by natureboy

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On 9/2/2016 at 3:00 PM, Big C said:

In general, I can appreciate the statistical logic behind your analysis, but I think those considerations (as far as pairings and partnerships go) should be made after the squad is selected. I don't mean to dismiss the analytics, but really someone's Strokes gained/Tee to Green doesn't mean much...Stats are great but they have their limitations.

Specifically, your ambivalence on Reed is astonishing. Would you really take Rickie Fowler (in your words, "definitely" a pick) over Patrick Reed ("likely" a pick)??? Look at the body of work and tell me which of those two guys you would rather have on your match play squad.

Here's some analysis that speaks to strokes gained value for match play: http://mattcourchene.com/match-play-data-exploration-exercise/#comment-76 

Like I said in an earlier post, I don't think Strokes Gained is everything, but it is indicative of consistent level of play. It's strongly correlated with results (cuts made, top 10s, wins. In the Ryder cup relative strengths like strong driving and making birdies can really help in fourball, but everyone still has to play singles too. Apparently, though the contest rarely comes down to the last player in singles so the advantage of Fourball / Foursomes may be more important and a potentially weaker singles player can be 'hidden' down the order.

If the PGA Tour stats site allowed a date range search of the SG data it could show recent trends and I bet that Reed's recent win would be part of an upward trend or a 'run of form' while Bubba and Rickie seem to have faded from the early season a bit. Still, they are both long-term strong performers per their world rankings in past years.

This year Reed's results (cuts made, top 10s, wins) are better than expected based on SG than most of the team or prospective team members - second only to DJ. I think part of his match play 'edge' is related to his success / experience at Monday qualifying where you only have 18 holes to make something happen and it's better to be aggressive and 'go for it' than consistently avoid bogeys with a smattering of birdies for a 72 hole tournament and the season-long grind. Plus he's a good scrambler, which helps in match play. For comparison on that same metric, Phil's results were consistently below his SG expected performance, both this year and in '14. Possibly because he takes too many big chances (or erratic driving) for stoke play, a mindset possibly better for match play. This year Fowler is 2nd worst in 'under-performing' in results relative to his SG. Among prospects, Charley Hoffman and Russell Henley are both similar to Rickie in results vs. expected from SG.

One player that's interesting is Zach Johnson. His Ryder Cup record is about the same (slightly better) than his regular season match play results per the link above. He doesn't seem to 'under-perform' in Ryder Cup though. 

Edited by natureboy

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On 2016-09-08 at 6:23 PM, natureboy said:

I'd agree this has at least some effect, if only on the behind the scenes preparation by the Captains and assistants. The Euro system became smooth and regular. Less distracting and more calming for the players than the historically more ad-hoc approach by the U.S. I think at least for some U.S. players they almost take it too seriously and get tight. I think personal / tour / national pride matters a lot to these guys.

Truth.  Look at how the Euros reacted to the 2008 loss.  It seemed like they recognized the problem was just an off-year or maybe Faldo as a bad captain, so they didn't panic in the leadup to 2010.  Compare this to the USA, who seems to reshuffle the entire Ryder Cup process every two years and point fingers at everyone involved.

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4 hours ago, Broke100Once said:

Truth.  Look at how the Euros reacted to the 2008 loss.  It seemed like they recognized the problem was just an off-year or maybe Faldo as a bad captain, so they didn't panic in the leadup to 2010.  Compare this to the USA, who seems to reshuffle the entire Ryder Cup process every two years and point fingers at everyone involved.

I think they've recognized the issue with the ad-hoc approach and have adjusted to develop a more regular and thorough management system. I suspect (but don't know) that Faldo may have been slightly allergic to statistics and defaulted to traditional wisdom in making his pairings.

Edited by natureboy

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On 9/9/2016 at 5:26 AM, newtogolf said:

The pressure is on the US now to win given they've been on a losing streak.  

...............and they don't like that......"oh we can't win let's scrap it.....hahahaha!!!!

On 9/8/2016 at 7:24 PM, newtogolf said:

That is the question isn't it, is the Ryder Cup an exhibition or a international competition that has deeper meaning for European and US golfers?   I consider professional sports all-star games exhibitions but I place the Ryder Cup more in line with the Olympics.  The PGA Pro Tour and European Tour seem to be competitive, vying to attract the largest money tournaments and best golfers.  

Maybe the PGA Pro Tour problem is the Euro guys approach this like an event that has meaning beyond an exhibition where as our guys want to have fun and without big prize money on the line the motivation to win isn't as great.  

What a joke that is.Just look at what Phil did to Tom Watson at the press conf last time...you think he was joking,that showed how much the Americans want it.

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On 9/11/2016 at 9:43 AM, natureboy said:

I think they've recognized the issue with the ad-hoc approach and have adjusted to develop a more regular and thorough management system. I suspect (but don't know) that Faldo may have been slightly allergic to statistics and defaulted to traditional wisdom in making his pairings.

Back in the day,it was a very one sided affair until Seve turned it into something real and competitive.The Americans have been taking it very seriously..remember the passion of Kiawah when the yanks played in army fatigues and the mess you made in 2004 when Leonard sunk that monstrous putt. Incredible stuff.

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2 hours ago, Scotsclaff said:

...............and they don't like that......"oh we can't win let's scrap it.....hahahaha!!!!

What a joke that is.Just look at what Phil did to Tom Watson at the press conf last time...you think he was joking,that showed how much the Americans want it.

Phil is one guy, he was speaking for himself not the team.  

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4 hours ago, Scotsclaff said:

Back in the day,it was a very one sided affair until Seve turned it into something real and competitive.The Americans have been taking it very seriously..remember the passion of Kiawah when the yanks played in army fatigues and the mess you made in 2004 when Leonard sunk that monstrous putt. Incredible stuff.

What really changed things was the inclusion of Europe per Nicklaus' suggestion. That allowed Seve to play and it helped increase golf awareness and participation in continental Europe.

Even before that UK & Ireland were able to play to a tie, which is pretty impressive given the disparity in the talent depth and national population bases. In the past 10-20 years, Seve's legacy has continued to increase player quality on the European Tour. However, I expect if you increased the number of team members and matches in the Ryder Cup, the advantage would likely shift back to the U.S. as the PGA tour still has greater depth. But the top 12 from both tours is still very close in talent level year-to-year, making the matches very competitive.

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On 9/10/2016 at 0:27 PM, natureboy said:

Like I said in an earlier post, I don't think Strokes Gained is everything, but it is indicative of consistent level of play. It's strongly correlated with results (cuts made, top 10s, wins. In the Ryder cup relative strengths like strong driving and making birdies can really help in fourball, but everyone still has to play singles too. Apparently, though the contest rarely comes down to the last player in singles so the advantage of Fourball / Foursomes may be more important and a potentially weaker singles player can be 'hidden' down the order.

I was thinking about this last night, and I think there is a "next level" of statistical analysis coming down the line for golf. Strokes gained is extremely valuable, but it has it's limitations. Chief among those, IMO, is that it weights all rounds the same. The guy who is 15 shots out of contention gets the same SG "credit" as a guy who is battling it out for the lead on Sunday afternoon. 

I really don't intend to keep bashing the guy, but Jim Furyk's Sunday 58 was a prime example of this. It was shot while Furyk was well out of contention and for most of the round, off the radar to spectators and broadcasters. In other words, the exact opposite conditions of what guys in the Ryder Cup will be facing. 

My suspicion (and again, this is unsupported) is that Rickie Fowler has padded his impressive SG numbers on Thursday and Friday rounds. But what do the numbers look like on Saturday on Sunday? Or, more to the point, what do they look like on Saturdays and Sundays when he is in the top 20? 

If someone could develop an algorithm to weight each round's significance based on a handful of important factors (Is this a major? How strong is the field? Where does the golfer rank on the tournament leaderboard at the time the round is played?) and factor in strokes gained through that lense, I think that data would be really enlightening to see. Rounds like the ones that Phil and Stenson played at Royal Troon really should get more weight, in my opinion.

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1 hour ago, Big C said:

I was thinking about this last night, and I think there is a "next level" of statistical analysis coming down the line for golf. Strokes gained is extremely valuable, but it has it's limitations. Chief among those, IMO, is that it weights all rounds the same. The guy who is 15 shots out of contention gets the same SG "credit" as a guy who is battling it out for the lead on Sunday afternoon. 

I really don't intend to keep bashing the guy, but Jim Furyk's Sunday 58 was a prime example of this. It was shot while Furyk was well out of contention and for most of the round, off the radar to spectators and broadcasters. In other words, the exact opposite conditions of what guys in the Ryder Cup will be facing. 

My suspicion (and again, this is unsupported) is that Rickie Fowler has padded his impressive SG numbers on Thursday and Friday rounds. But what do the numbers look like on Saturday on Sunday? Or, more to the point, what do they look like on Saturdays and Sundays when he is in the top 20? 

If someone could develop an algorithm to weight each round's significance based on a handful of important factors (Is this a major? How strong is the field? Where does the golfer rank on the tournament leaderboard at the time the round is played?) and factor in strokes gained through that lense, I think that data would be really enlightening to see. Rounds like the ones that Phil and Stenson played at Royal Troon really should get more weight, in my opinion.

There are already statisticians investigating 'choking' in golf. Mostly what they seem to indicate from what I've read is that golf is so fundamentally variable that any such effect would be hard to distinguish from the noise of variable performance round-to-round. Tiger made so many cuts and won so many times, because his level of 'normal' play was good enough to win a lot of the time. His poorer performances could still make cuts. Most golfers have to elevate their level of play in one or more areas to win...some just to make the cut. That's why performance relative to the field in certain skill area is informative.

Golf is scored across 4 days. No one day counts more than the others so every shot gained or given away all matter to the final outcome equally.

While I'm sure it happens on some shots when in contention (particularly the body stall hook / pull), I'd expect that generally most golfers play a bit worse than their average SG when in contention. Personally, I expect that's what Rickie is dealing with this season. From what I remember most of his really bad rounds knocked him out of tournaments early. We all know that 'pressing' can be detrimental to a good golf swing so maybe that under-performance is really about trying too hard? Look at Lydia Ko. She's super chill about results and relies on playing about on average to her very high level game relative to the field. As they say, the results take care of themselves. There are golfers who 'rise to the occasion' like Larry Nelson, but I think they tend to be rare.

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On September 8, 2016 at 8:24 AM, newtogolf said:

That is the question isn't it, is the Ryder Cup an exhibition or a international competition that has deeper meaning for European and US golfers?   I consider professional sports all-star games exhibitions but I place the Ryder Cup more in line with the Olympics.  The PGA Pro Tour and European Tour seem to be competitive, vying to attract the largest money tournaments and best golfers.  

Maybe the PGA Pro Tour problem is the Euro guys approach this like an event that has meaning beyond an exhibition where as our guys want to have fun and without big prize money on the line the motivation to win isn't as great.  

Ive always felt that the Ryder cup is an exhibition that has been artificially blown up into a made for TV drama product by the networks and the US and European tours. The players are not allowed to have fun. Because its serious life or death business that make or break careers. 

lol...gimmie a break. 

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38 minutes ago, Groucho Valentine said:

Ive always felt that the Ryder cup is an exhibition that has been artificially blown up into a made for TV drama product by the networks and the US and European tours. The players are not allowed to have fun. Because its serious life or death business that make or break careers. 

lol...gimmie a break. 

I see lots of players having fun in the Ryder Cup. Was it Boo Weekely who rode his driver like a horse down the fairway? Yes TV hypes it, but it's still a fun competition for 'pride'. I'm sure it matters at least a little bit in terms of European Tour competing more effectively for sponsors to support their tour or get more comparable purses.

I fully agree, though, that it shouldn't make or break careers or reputations.

-----

@Big C one thing I'd add to my earlier post is that a passionate desire to win the event may help improve focus for the slightly more aggressive play that is more rewarded in 18 hole match play vs. 72 hole stroke play.

Edited by natureboy

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