One constant theme of pga players is the refrain “We need Tiger back”. Now that does not mean they particularly like having him around or they want him to return to his kick-their-asses form. No. It’s the money
The graph below shows the winners cheque and year on year % change for the Arnold Palmer Invitational (though any tournament would show the same general pattern)
As can be seen, after relatively modest increases in the early 90′s, prize money started exploding from 1997 onwards – Tigers first full professional season- such that the top cheque more than quadrupled by 2004.
The subsequent six seasons have only seen a 20% growth, however with the change predating Tigers woes and even the economy travails. It seems that whatever Tiger effect there has been is probably over and the professionals must rely on the fact that there are only a limited number of sponsorships available every year and resistance to reducing prize money to maintain their living standards
As you may know, I am planning to create a web site with a coverage not otherwise available
One aspect will be a preview for each week’s tournament and as a taster shown below is a table that will be a regular feature – The Front Nine. This shows the leading performers in the tournament over its history
The Arnold Palmer Invitational has been known under several names, principally the Bay Hill, since its inauguration in the mid 1960′s. The data available is from 1970-2010
Select categories from the combobox as required
This is another of Tiger Woods favourite events at which he will hope to show better form over all four rounds. His historical rival, Jack Nicklaus, played it somewhat sparingly and never won. His best chance was in 1982 when – in spite of besting playing partner, Ray Floyd, by a stroke – a final round 75 allowed Tom Kite to come from 6 back to force a playoff and win over Jack and Larry Walker
Happily, Arnold Palmer does have a victory to his name over this time period, exactly 40 years ago, with a close struggle with Julius Boros throughout the tournament seeing him prevail by a single stroke
As often is the case, I get piqued by an article or stray comment, start investigating it and then get led astray
The whole “Is Tiger finished” argument is one of them. There have been many discussions around this covering his age, level of competition, possible use of enhancers and how once he gets his swing back his dominance will return.
In later sections of this series of blogs I plan to bring a ‘more objective’ approach on whether the quest for the remaining 5 majors he needs to exceed Jack Nicklaus’s record 18 is realistic. However, it should not be forgotten that for one reason or another he has not won any of the last 10 majors. Padraig Harrington has won two over this span but I have yet to hear anyone suggesting he is going to win 5 more
One of the most famous Tiger stats was that he was 14-0 when going into the final round of a major with at least a share of the lead - until YE Yang topped him in the 2009 PGA. The corollary is that in the other 36 events where did not have the lead he could not produce a come from behind victory
So who could?
Here is a graph of the players who have done so in the Tiger era 1997-2009 (no 2010 data yet -I just can’t get the staff!). In addition to the aforementioned 14 wins by Tiger, there have been another 19 occurrences where the leader or joint leaders have held on. All three Vijay wins fall into that category whilst Phil Mickleson’s first trio were likewise a case of maintaining a third round advantage
Click on the graph data-points for further details (currently does not work with multiple occurrences)
The outlier, of course, is the notorious Jean van de Valde meltdown at Carnoustie, 1999 where a double-bogey at the last would have ensured his name on the Claret Jug. It was the perfect storm for winner Paul Lawrie as he posted a 67 the joint best score of the tournament and an average seven strokes better than the 13 players ahead of him as the final round began. Click on the plot point to see some of the famous names who could not match him that day, including 8 major winners
As I write the game has yet to be played but I’m guessing the ratings for the WGC-ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY final Sunday will not be breaking any records – at least not on the positive side
As a European, I’m delighted that Donald and Kaymer are in the final but they are hardly the type to set the world alight either with their style of golf (buccaneers they aint) or personality. Nice guys, but I’d give Kaymer a double-bogey for charisma and the only thing that would even make any parents hesitate in wanting Donald as a son-in-law is the fact that he is already married.
The highlight of Saturday was the unlikely literary-combo of Holmes and Watson bombing the ball 400 yards down the fairway. Unlike the occupants of 221b, however, it was Watson that came out on top finding the 7 percent solution to being 5 down after 10 holes. Although for JB scotch must be his tipple of choice rather than cocaine, he was clearly on something as he made the elementary mistake when, standing 1 up on the 18th tee with his partner in the desert, he decided to unleash a driver into an even worse predicament (buccaneer he is) with the predictable wrap-up a few pages later
It is the format that is at fault, of course. With half the field statutorily obliged to depart on day 1 -including Woods this time around – including what in theory could be the player with the second best round it seems to combine both arbitrariness and stupidity