Introducing the Wild Principle
January, 30, 2008
By Jason Sobel
There are many ways of saying, "Tiger Woods is really, really good." (Putting yourself in the same tier is not one of 'em, Ian Poulter.) Let me introduce one more. I received an e-mail this week from reader Levi Wild of Dallas with the subject line: "A (Possibly) New Stat to Judge Tiger's Dominance." With skepticism, I read the proposal, and I couldn't believe how brilliantly simple it was. In his own words:
- I did a little research and I think there may be a new, completely absurd way to judge Tiger: His stroke differential against the best the field has to offer for each tournament. So, if Phil Mickelson wins by 2 over Tiger at the Deutsche Bank Championship (as happened last year), that's -2 against Tiger. If Angel Cabrera wins by 1 over Tiger at the U.S. Open, that's -1 against Tiger
and so on.
In 2007, Tiger was -20. That is a pretty staggering number when you think about it. He lost the Players and Arnold Palmer Invitational both by 11, so remove those scores and he was actually positive for the season. I find it disturbing that he had a lower stroke total than the best the field had to offer other than himself over the course of 13 tournaments last year. For the last five tournaments of last year, he was +19.
- TW was +2 in 2000. Crazy. He already has been in the positive. The most he lost a tournament by during 2000 was seven strokes. The +15 at the U.S. Open, +11 at the NEC, and +8 at the British Open were very notable because he beat the field by more than they were able to beat him all year!
- Of course, K.J. and Phil played 24 and 23 tournaments in 2007, respectively. But still, that means they averaged close to -9 per tournament, whereas Tiger averaged -0.75 in 2007.
- 1. Winning or losing in a playoff yields no differential.
2. This obviously considers only stroke-play tournaments.
3. A missed cut means you take the player's score after two rounds and compare it to that of the four-round winner. This can skew the results in favor of the player being analyzed. (See last year's U.S. Open, when Mickelson missed the cut at 11-over after two rounds. Cabrera won at 6-over, so Mickelson's differential reads only minus-5, but who knows how much more it would have been if he had been able to play the last two rounds.)
4. A withdrawal after two rounds means the differential is between the score of the winner and the score of the player when he withdrew.