I.T.N. No. 11
PUBLISHED July 18, 2019
Inside The Numbers ...
is a brief numerical summary of the current happenings in the world golf, published every Monday — hopefully.
Rory McIlroy came into the Open Championship as the hometown and betting favourite. Our model agreed, pegging Rory as the favourite to win at 6.5% and a whopping 85% to make the cut. However, after a disastrous opening-round 79, our model only gave him a 7% chance of making the cut. After battling back to +2 for the tournament through 16 holes on Friday, McIlroy’s cut probability had climbed back up to 30%. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Rory, as he parred the last two holes to miss the cut by one stroke.
Not all missed cuts are equal: golfers who missed the cut by 1 stroke at the Open Championship averaged +0.47 true strokes-gained in their two rounds. In our pre-tournament simulations, we estimated that the cutline would be expected to fall at about +0.4 true SG per round; the fact that just 73 players advanced to the weekend was the likely cause of the slightly tougher realized cutline.

For an interesting comparison, players who missed the cut at last week’s Barbasol Championship averaged -1.82 true SG per round — due to the combination of a weak field and a larger percentage of golfers making the cut relative to The Open.
So far this season 12 players have picked up two wins at stroke-play events on the PGA, Korn Ferry, and European tours. However, not all wins are equal — winning the Masters is more impressive than winning the John Deere, which in turn is more impressive than winning an event on the Korn Ferry tour. In our season-long performance table we include a column called true expected wins, which is the number of wins we would expect each player to have if all their events been played at an average full-field PGA Tour event (think Travelers Championship). Here are all the players with 2 wins this season, sorted by True xWins:
On route to becoming Champion Golfer of the Year, Shane Lowry averaged 4.92 strokes-gained per round. According to our simple model of expected wins, this strokes-gained performance would be expected to win an Open Championship 93% of the time. Further, it we estimate it would have been good enough to win an average PGA Tour event over 99% of the time. Impressive stuff!