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Past Issues
58. Captain Keegan (2024-07-10)
57. Bryson 4.0 (2024-06-19)
56. Newsletter No. 56 (2024-06-12)
55. Valhalla Delivers? (2024-05-22)
54. Major Expectations (2024-05-15)
53. Major Moves (2024-04-17)
52. Masters Tidbits (2024-04-10)
51. On Site at The Players (2024-03-21)
50. Still Top Scheff (2024-03-13)
48. Taylor Triumphs (2024-02-15)
47. DG PIP Rankings (2024-02-07)
46. California Kids (2024-01-23)
45. Yuan Goes Yard (2024-01-17)
44. Brain Drain (2024-01-03)
43. LIV Fever (2023-12-06)
42. Nothing Major (2023-11-15)
41. Driving Machine (2023-11-08)
40. How's Traffic? (2023-10-18)
39. Lucky Luke (2023-10-11)
38. Postmortem (2023-10-04)
37. Ryder Cup (2023-09-27)
36. Letzig Returns (2023-09-20)
35. That's a Wrap (2023-08-29)
34. Pick 6 (2023-08-23)
33. Tale of Two Glovers (2023-08-16)
32. Forecasting the FedEx (2023-08-09)
31. Postseason (2023-08-01)
30. Major Letdown (2023-07-25)
29. Underdogs (2023-07-19)
28. Up and Down (2023-07-11)
27. Validation for Rickie (2023-07-05)
26. The Ams Strike Back (2023-06-27)
25. Wyndham Rewarded (2023-06-20)
24. The Show Rolls On (2023-06-13)
23. Scottie's Scaries (2023-06-08)
22. Grillo, Mi Amigo (2023-05-30)
21. Major Koepka (2023-05-23)
20. Glory's Second Shot (2023-05-16)
19. We Meet Again.. (2023-05-09)
18. Big Tone (2023-05-01)
17. Health Check (2023-04-24)
16. Live From Harbour Town (2023-04-17)
15. Phil Thrills (2023-04-11)
14. Down Magnolia Lane We Go (2023-04-03)
13. Peaking for Augusta (2023-03-27)
12. Fall of The DeChambino (2023-03-21)
11. Top Scheff (2023-03-13)
10. Fore Right! (2023-03-06)
9. CH3.. Wins? (2023-02-28)
8. The Rahm Slam (2023-02-21)
7. Garbage Time (2023-02-14)
6. Little Misery (2023-02-07)
5. Rory Returns (2023-01-30)
4. Rahm Threat (2023-01-23)
3. Rising Maverick (2023-01-16)
2. Morikawa's Meltdown (2023-01-09)
1. Introducing Letzig (2023-01-02)

Brain Drain

With the big news of the off-season being Jon Rahm’s move to LIV Golf, we thought it would be interesting to see how the tour affiliation of the top 100 DG-ranked players has evolved over time. A player’s tour is assigned based on where they played the majority of their recent non-major rounds, and the yearly values are averages from all ranking dates in a given season.

The plot makes it clear that the big loser over the last 10 years—at least in terms of retaining talent—has been the DP World Tour. The DPWT’s share of the top 100 players peaked in 2010 at 25%, before steadily falling to 16% by 2019. Then things really started to go south: Covid hits in 2020 and basically forces the top guys to play in the US; the PGAT-DPWT partnership starts in late 2020 which makes the path to the PGAT a bit easier; and finally, LIV starts in mid-2022 and immediately poaches several top European players. As a result, the DPWT’s share of the top 100 golfers is now only a third of what it once was.

This also provides an interesting framing for the PGA Tour’s loss of players to LIV: they went from having an absurd 91% of the top 100 in 2022 to just 75% in 2023, which puts them back roughly where they were in 2009-2014 when the DPWT was at its peak.

The evolving tour composition of the best players in the world also relates to an important detail that affects all the “true”, or adjusted, SG values on our site: the choice of a baseline. Historically, we’ve set the average True SG value for all PGA Tour rounds in a calendar year to zero. Even before LIV, this was problematic because the overall strength of the PGA Tour could fluctuate over time, making a True SG value of +1 mean something slightly different across seasons. The solution to this problem is to use a tour-independent baseline, so since early 2023 we have been using the average performance of players ranked 125th-175th in a given season for our zero value.

Using this new baseline, the average True SG value on the PGA Tour from 2004-2021 is -0.05, with the lowest season average occurring in 2010 (-0.14). After LIV’s introduction halfway through 2022, the PGA Tour's average True SG dipped to -0.09, and in 2023 it fell further to -0.20. As was highlighted in the plot above, while today's PGA Tour has been meaningfully weakened by LIV's emergence, it's overall strength is not that different from years past when more of the game’s best played in Europe.


Digits Of The Week

94%

The probability that this week’s field at The Sentry would beat a Top 5 player over 72 holes. This is our preferred measure of field strength—which we call the “X-Score”, named after perpetual Top 5 player Xander Schauffele—as it takes into account both the skill and size of a field. For reference, the strongest fields have X-scores around 96%, while typical full-field events on the PGA Tour have scores around 91%.

While the PGA Tour as a whole may be getting weaker, the Sentry field has never been stronger. Under the newly expanded entry criteria that includes the top 50 from last year’s FedExCup standings, the only eligible player skipping this week is Rory McIlory. This week’s field is stronger (by X-score) than 4 of the last 5 Sentry tournaments, with only the 2021 edition having similar field strength.


Rankings Update

Looking at our 2023 year-end rankings, Jon Rahm's name might stick out the most. Not only because of his recent move to LIV, but also how far down the list he is at 6th. Rahm was unquestionably the best player in the world through the first 4 months of 2023: he won The Masters—and three other tournaments—while averaging +3.0 strokes-gained per round in his 11 starts. The big Spaniard has cooled off since then though, going winless and averaging just +1.7 strokes-gained per round since May, 12th-best in the world in that period.

Other top players have struggled to maintain their elite play after signing with LIV Golf—it will be interesting to see how a perennial top-5 player, in the prime of his career, fairs.

Top 10 (see all)
Player DG OWGR
Scottie Scheffler 1 1
Viktor Hovland 2 4
Rory McIlroy 3 2
Patrick Cantlay 4 5
Xander Schauffele 5 6
Jon Rahm 6 3
Collin Morikawa 7 13
Max Homa 8 7
Tommy Fleetwood 9 14
Tyrrell Hatton 10 12
Notables
Ludvig Aberg 13 30 2
Jordan Spieth 18 15
Min Woo Lee 19 33
Bryson DeChambeau 25 154 1
Nicolai Hojgaard 30 50
Louis Oosthuizen 60 131 2
Trace Crowe 284 232 2
Harrison Endycott 288 369 2
Hayden Springer 410 482 4

A few weeks ago Harrison Endycott won medalist honours at PGA Tour Q-School to earn his card back after a disappointing 2023 season. It was a good time to put together the best 4-round stretch of his career (+12.7 true strokes-gained). Endycott (ranked 288) will be joined on the PGA Tour this year by fellow Q-School graduates Trace Crowe (284), Hayden Springer (410), Blaine Hale Jr. (500+), and Raul Pereda (500+).

At 19th and 30th, Min Woo Lee and Nicolai Hojgaard finished the year as the two highest ranked full-time DP World Tour players. Both will be playing on the PGA Tour this year alongside the 8 others who earned the promotion via their position on the 2023 Race to Dubai points list. #BrainDrain


Player Feature


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Past Issues
58. Captain Keegan (2024-07-10)
57. Bryson 4.0 (2024-06-19)
56. Newsletter No. 56 (2024-06-12)
55. Valhalla Delivers? (2024-05-22)
54. Major Expectations (2024-05-15)
53. Major Moves (2024-04-17)
52. Masters Tidbits (2024-04-10)
51. On Site at The Players (2024-03-21)
50. Still Top Scheff (2024-03-13)
48. Taylor Triumphs (2024-02-15)
47. DG PIP Rankings (2024-02-07)
46. California Kids (2024-01-23)
45. Yuan Goes Yard (2024-01-17)
44. Brain Drain (2024-01-03)
43. LIV Fever (2023-12-06)
42. Nothing Major (2023-11-15)
41. Driving Machine (2023-11-08)
40. How's Traffic? (2023-10-18)
39. Lucky Luke (2023-10-11)
38. Postmortem (2023-10-04)
37. Ryder Cup (2023-09-27)
36. Letzig Returns (2023-09-20)
35. That's a Wrap (2023-08-29)
34. Pick 6 (2023-08-23)
33. Tale of Two Glovers (2023-08-16)
32. Forecasting the FedEx (2023-08-09)
31. Postseason (2023-08-01)
30. Major Letdown (2023-07-25)
29. Underdogs (2023-07-19)
28. Up and Down (2023-07-11)
27. Validation for Rickie (2023-07-05)
26. The Ams Strike Back (2023-06-27)
25. Wyndham Rewarded (2023-06-20)
24. The Show Rolls On (2023-06-13)
23. Scottie's Scaries (2023-06-08)
22. Grillo, Mi Amigo (2023-05-30)
21. Major Koepka (2023-05-23)
20. Glory's Second Shot (2023-05-16)
19. We Meet Again.. (2023-05-09)
18. Big Tone (2023-05-01)
17. Health Check (2023-04-24)
16. Live From Harbour Town (2023-04-17)
15. Phil Thrills (2023-04-11)
14. Down Magnolia Lane We Go (2023-04-03)
13. Peaking for Augusta (2023-03-27)
12. Fall of The DeChambino (2023-03-21)
11. Top Scheff (2023-03-13)
10. Fore Right! (2023-03-06)
9. CH3.. Wins? (2023-02-28)
8. The Rahm Slam (2023-02-21)
7. Garbage Time (2023-02-14)
6. Little Misery (2023-02-07)
5. Rory Returns (2023-01-30)
4. Rahm Threat (2023-01-23)
3. Rising Maverick (2023-01-16)
2. Morikawa's Meltdown (2023-01-09)
1. Introducing Letzig (2023-01-02)