The art, or science of predicting the outcome of sporting events has never been a larger business than it is today. We pick up any sports magazine, and some bright kid at MIT has a new formula for calculating how many games can be won if player A is substituted for Player B. The list of statistics are mind-boggling to say the least. Golf has such data available so you, the fan, can mull through the stats pages and somehow predict who will win the Open Championship in 2013.
The big variable golf has that most sports don’t, is the golf course variable. In football, the field is 100 yards long, 50 yards wide, in baseball, it’s 90 feet from base to base at every field in the world. But in golf, different golf courses favor different players. Different grass types produce different speeds and breaks on the greens, the list of variables are endless to say the least.
Ask anyone who they think will win the Open Championship this year, and of course, they are going to say “Tiger Woods”. He’s due, isn’t he……? Tiger hasn’t won a major championship since 2008, and he hasn’t won an Open Championship since 2006. In fact, he has never won at Muirfield, two of his Open wins came at St. Andrews, and the third came at Royal Liverpool, so why is he the favorite to win this year?
Phil Mickelson is in Scotland this week playing at the Scottish Open in an attempt to get himself acclimated to the weather, and the unique golf courses that are played during the Open Championship. Phil has never won an Open Championship, and I’m not sure he ever will. Winning, especially in Scotland is an exercise in patience that I’m not sure Lefty has in his bag. Mickelson has trouble anytime he gets out of California, or Arizona. With an exception for Augusta, Phil has won the lion’s share of tournaments in his career on the West Coast.
The interesting thing about statistics is, you can massage numbers in a way that will produce any outcome you want. Just keep calculating until they tell you what you want to see. Tiger is still number one, and is still the favorite at Muirfield next week. Speaking of numbers…..How is Rory McIlroy still ranked number two in the Official World Golf Rankings? That ranking system has more VooDoo mathematics than the BCS.
For a sport that was banned during the Mao regime for its opulence, golf has taken off in a big way in China. Families are only allowed to have one child, but Chinese who have tasted capitalism are quickly spending their income on creating the next Tianlang Guan, Andy Zhang, or….Tiger Woods.
This is a very well written article from The New York Times Magazine, and is worth the time to read. It gives us some insight as to why the Asian community is looking to dominate the sport of golf.
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