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Monday, August 4, 2014

PGA Championship - Power Ranking

As I compiled my Power Ranking for the PGA Championship this week, I found myself really studying current form. While the Masters and The Open Championship are all about course history, the PGA is typically captured by a player who is in the midst of a hot streak. As it relates to Valhalla Golf Club, it would help if that person was fairly lengthy off the tee and a solid ball-striker overall.

Since there are so many formats in play for the PGA Championship and many games are winding down, I've expanded my Power Ranking from 12 to a larger number. I realize that many players in many formats may have already been utilized, thus the depth.

When I mention statistical categories below, I scrutinized driving distance, SGP, total driving, par breakers, ball-striking, proximity and par-4 scoring average.

We are playing blackjack tonight, and taking it 21 deep!

  1. Rory McIlroy - Nuff Said.
  2. Adam Scott - There was a tight battle for the top spot, and the Aussie edges out the other two under consideration. Statistically, he has everything necessary for success at Valhalla. He oozes class and his form has been that of a top-10 machine of late. He enters off top 10s in each of his last five PGA TOUR starts including a T8 at Firestone CC last week.
  3. Keegan Bradley - This is his time of year, and he picked up a third consecutive top-five finish in the WGC-Bridgestone last week. The PGA setups tend to favor him, and he checks out all of the major statistical categories. 
  4. Sergio Garcia - He's finished runner-up in each of his last three PGA TOUR starts including last week at Firestone. If you dig deep enough, he is on the record as not being a big fan of Valhalla. He tied for 34th at this venue in 2000 and scored just 1 point in four Ryder Cup matches back in 2008. That said, his stats and form are both off the charts. Hey, Jim Furyk said he didn't like the RBC Canadian Open layout and then finished runner-up, so players can be liars.
  5. Rickie Fowler - All anyone really needs to know is that he's finished runner-up in each of the last two majors and has played well down the stretch in both. It doesn't hurt that he tied for eighth at Firestone CC last week.
  6. Marc Leishman - When it's all said and done, I wouldn't be surprised if he's ranked higher here than anywhere else, but it is with merit. Dating back to the 2012 Masters, he's showed a penchant for showing up in some big events, while losing interest in some smaller one; not unlike Fowler. He enters off a T5 at The Open Championship and a T3 at the WGC-Bridgestone last week. He's also long enough to be a factor at Valhalla. 
  7. Jim Furyk - While I certainly worry about his length off the tee, he's been extremely consistent of late. Fourth at the Open, second at the RBC Canadian and T15 at the WGC-Bridgestone in his last three. Length wasn't a major issue in the first two, but the wet conditions in the final round at Firestone CC could somewhat mimic the challenge that Furyk faces in terms of distance later this week.
  8. Justin Rose - Trending very well with a Win, T23, T4 in his last three PGA TOUR starts and is known as an elite ball-striker even if the stats aren't backing that up this season. 
  9. Ryan Moore - Absolutely on the bubble for a Ryder Cup berth, He's finished inside the top 12 in each of his last four PGA TOUR starts and enters off a T8 at Firestone last week. Ranks inside the top 20 in par breakers, ball-striking, proximity and par-4 scoring average.
  10. Matt Kuchar - Sort of like McIlroy at the top, it's hard not to slide Kuchar inside the top 10 in any tournament. It helps that he tied for fourth in the RBC Canadian Open and shared 12th last week. 
  11. Graeme McDowell - It's as easy as noticing his last five starts went T6-1-T9-T9-T8 at the Irish Open, Alstom Open de France, The Open Championship, RBC Canadian and WGC-Bridgestone. He's not an excellent statistical fit this week, but the last 20 rounds of golf can't be ignored.
  12. Henrik Stenson - Has been a bit of a disappointment in his last few starts but has the tee-to-green game to be a big factor at Valhalla if he puts four rounds together.
  13. Phil Mickelson - Stock rose with a final-round 62 at Firestone CC on Sunday to secure a T15. He's one of the few players with any real experience at Valhalla in the PGA, cracking the top 10 in 1996 and 2000. 
  14. Charl Schwartzel - The T43 in the RBC Canadian Open can be overlooked since it's sandwiched between a T7 at The Open Championship and a T4 at the WGC-Bridgestone. The South African winning this week doesn't exactly pass the smell test, but his recent performance doesn't lie. 
  15. Bubba Watson - Seems a bit off lately, failing to seriously contend since his third-place finish at the Memorial in early June. While the stats look good, a lot of the heavy lifting was done earlier in the season.
  16. Zach Johnson - Simply put, I'm a little worried about his length. He tied for 47th at The Open Championship and was T23 last week at Firestone, so the form is just average. 
  17. Hunter Mahan - Showed signs of life with a T15 at Firestone last week and went 2-0-3 in the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla. It's not out of the question for things to come together for him this week.
  18. Martin Kaymer - Finishing 70th at the Open and T56 at Firestone last week. Normally that knocks him all the way off the page, but his dominating win at Pinehurst wasn't that long ago. 
  19. Jimmy Walker - A couple of T26s in his last two starts have him on a slow fade. This isn't a surprise, as his traditional strengths were early in the season and he struck while the iron was hot. It's possible that he's a little worn down.
  20. Gary Woodland - A realistic dark horse, Woodland certainly has the power to blast his way around Valhalla and tied for 19th at Firestone last week. 
  21. Nick Watney - At his best, he is an elite driver of the golf ball and has a good enough overall game to capitalize on that. While he has not been at his best this season, his T12-T8 run in his last two starts offer hints that he may be on to something. 
There's always someone I regret leaving off, even at 21 deep, and the name I'm already kicking myself on is Patrick Reed. We know he runs hot and he tied for fourth last week.

We will return tomorrow with a look at the one-and-done. Until then, best of luck to all!

1 comment:

  1. One last week for my league with a Pick 2 one and done.....I sit in 4th place about $250K behind 3 and $500K behind 1st. I am the only one in about the top 15 with Rory left...so he is my one obvious choice. I am looking for a second player and I keep coming back to Leishman and Matsuyama.

    I am confused about one stat that I keep seeing that says clear advantage Matsuyama. Proximity from 175-200 yards...I assume there will be several shots this week where guys are playing from this range....Matsuyama has a very low GIR from this range but his proximity is #6 I think. Does this mean...if he hits the green he is close but the odds of hitting the green aren't that great?

    Obviously stats are hard to go by because some guys play easy track and pad stats (CHW III) and some play harder courses on average ...I looked at Muirfield for a similar type track and that is a big bonus for Matsuyama because he obviously won there recently.

    I see you have Leishman pretty high...which I cannot say seems crazy at all...but I see you don't have Hideki listed at all.
    What I prefer to base my judgement on is who is more likely to make the cut. Any opinion here? Then I'll take my chances on the weekend with Rory and whoever....