July 14, 2015
By Bill Cooney and Mark Broadie, PGATOUR.COM
- Big-hitting Bubba Watson is fifth in scrambling this season on TOUR. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Welcome to our latest edition of stats formulas. This week we'll attempt to predict The Open Championship via one stats-based formula and another based on past and most recent performance. We've only selected one champion in five events -- Rory McIlroy at last season's PGA Championship. But three of the five top selections in the stats formula have finished in the top 10 in that respective tournament (See: 2014 U.S. Open, 2014 Open Championship, 2014 PGA Championship, 2015 PLAYERS, 2015 U.S. Open).
The stats formula simply works by selecting three stats that would seem to be key for the respective tournament -- this week at St. Andrews -- and adding up the rankings in each category for a total value. The players with the lowest 15 (and ties) values are in the chart below. Only players in the field at The Open are ranked and players who play mostly overseas are not included. For the record, Rory McIlroy would have ranked eighth in the formula with a value of 104. Tiger Woods' value is 433.
For The Open, I decided to use driving distance, strokes gained: tee-to-green and scrambling. From what I recall from the previous two Opens at St. Andrews, having the ability to drive it long is huge. It allows players to cut corners and to have better angles into greens on the approach. I'm also big on ball-striking this week, which strokes gained: tee-to-green stresses quite a bit. And scrambling just seems logical, as it's ultra important at all venues. With the huge greens -- which will likely be quite slow compared to most TOUR venues -- I tend to think the best putters will have a smaller advantage than usual. As always, feel free to agree or disagree with these three selections for St. Andrews and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Bubba Watson came out as the clear favorite in the stats formula. A surprise, you say, with scrambling in the equation? Not at all. Watson has drastically improved his short game. In fact, his scrambling mark (65.45 percent, fifth) this season is the highest of his career on TOUR. He's only ranked inside the top 100 in the category twice since 2006.
|Player||Driving Distance||SG: Tee-to-Green||Scrambling||Total Value|
|1. Bubba Watson||7||5||5||17|
|2. Hideki Matsuyama||33||2||12||47|
|3. Dustin Johnson||1||9||42||52|
|4. Jason Day||4||32||30||66|
|5. Daniel Berger||16||33||22||71|
|6. Jordan Spieth||76||3||6||85|
|7. Steven Bowditch||21||71||2||94|
|8. Ryan Palmer||12||16||77||105|
|9. Keegan Bradley||14||15||87||116|
|10. Webb Simpson||84||10||24||118|
|11. Harris English||26||67||39||132|
|12. Louis Oosthuizen||37||28||72||137|
|13. Patrick Reed||74||35||29||138|
|14. Henrik Stenson||59||7||74||140|
|15. Sergio Garcia||24||4||127||155|
|15. Charley Hoffman||36||37||82||155|
TOURNAMENT PERFORMANCE FORMULA (Mark Broadie)
Broadie, the Columbia Business School professor and strokes gained guru, used a weighted formula based on two categories: A player's lowest tournament adjusted scoring average in the past eight events (he also looked at European Tour events) and a player's adjusted scoring average in the prior 36 events (again, he looked at European Tour events). Broadie then weighted the 36 prior events at 60 percent (Average performance from past year) and the eight most recent at 40 percent (Best performance in previous eight events).
Here are his results, with the ranking in each category listed:
Note: Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth are the only players ranked in the top 10 of both the stats formula and the performance-based formula below. Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson and Jason Day are in the top 15.
|Player||Rank, ave performane past yr||Rank, best performance prev 8 events|
|1. Jordan Spieth||4||2|
|2. Adam Scott||2||20|
|3. Henrik Stenson||3||29|
|4. Bubba Watson||6||10|
|5. Dustin Johnson||5||13|
|6. Zach Johnson||26||4|
|7. Rickie Fowler||14||7|
|8. Matt Kuchar||9||12|
|9. Jim Furyk||1||65|
|10. Bernd Wiesberger||45||1|
|11. Jason Day||7||39|
|12. Justin Rose||10||48|
|13. Hideki Matsuyama||8||59|
|14. Brandt Snedeker||17||33|
|15. Branden Grace||25||20|