After a brief hiatus, the golf Power Rankings return. During their absence, we decided to limit the rankings to PGA Tour players, and SI’s statistical guru, David Sabino, worked with me to develop a mathematical formula we could use to determine our top 10. The new rankings incorporate 15 different statistical categories, some weighted to grant them additional influence, so it’s more reflective of overall play than simply dollars earned.
Best of all, players lose ground if they take a week off, so the list won’t go stagnant with the same old names sitting at the top. After 16 events, here’s how they stand.
1. Vijay Singh. Singh’s won twice and has two other top 10s; those numbers take him very far in our system. He’s also made the cut in all 11 of his starts, another stat our formula loves. But the big difference for Singh so far in ’07 (after a down year in ’06) is his putting. He’s averaging 1.754 putts per green in regulation, which ranks 16th on Tour.
2. Charles Howell. The king of the close call, Howell finally won this year (the Nissan), which goes nicely with his four other top 10s. After reuniting with his longtime teacher David Leadbetter in the offseason, Howell has returned with a stronger short game to go with the prodigious length and great iron play he’s always brought to the table.
3. John Rollins. With three top 10s but no wins, Rollins is a perfect example of a guy who’s not blowing anyone’s spikes off, but he’s doing everything well. He ranks at least 50th in almost every statistic that matters. That sort of consistent good play will take you far in the power ranking.
4. Aaron Baddeley. After his win at Phoenix, the second in a year, Baddeley started to look like he might be the guy to emerge from the pack of young hopefuls chasing Tiger Woods. Whether or not he will still remains to be seen, but his three top 10s, continued great putting (12th) and improved driving (27th in total driving) certainly are good signs for his future.
5. Mark Calcavecchia. Calc may be the exact opposite of Rollins. He’s missed three cuts and he’s not doing anything particularly well, but he’s scoring. And, he’s racking up top 10s; he has four, including a win. If he could hit the ball a little farther, he’d be a consistent threat to the top players in the game.
6. Zach Johnson. The new Masters champ is still flying high off his first major win, and it didn’t hurt when he followed that up with a tie for sixth the next week at the Heritage. He’s taking a few weeks off now to recover, and it will be interesting to see how he deals with the pressure of the spotlight when he returns.
7. Phil Mickelson. Sure, Mickelson stunk it up at Augusta, but he’s got a win and a second this season. Now that he’s hooked up with Butch Harmon, look for his driving accuracy and fundamentals to improve.
8. Tiger Woods. As usual, Woods has been awesome, with two wins and two other top 10s in five starts. But if we’re trying to find out who’s playing the best right now, it’s hard to justify a formula that would crown a king who’s played less than one third of the events. As Tiger plays more, he’ll almost certainly move up.
9. Geoff Ogilvy. The defending U.S. Open champ has been consistent but unspectacular this year, his best showing coming in a runner-up finish to Henrik Stenson at the Match Play. He seems to do better on tougher golf courses, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rise over the next third of the season.
10. Robert Allenby. After struggling with his swing for two years, Allenby’s been playing great all year. He has six top 10s and more than $1.5 million in the bank. All he needs is a win to cap his return to the top tier.