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Past Issues
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)

Data Golf PIP Rankings

Here at DG we want to start rewarding the players who drive the most traffic to our website. Unlike the PGA Tour's PIP system, ours is calculated using a single metric—profile page views.

Here are the current top 20:

Also unlike the PGA Tour's system, we don't pay out in cash. Instead, we'll be delivering value to our PIP leaders through a combination of HyFlyers GC equity (still pending approval) and digital moments from Bryson's NFT collection (including the coveted “BRYSON - Distance (SPECIAL EDITION 1/1)” NFT currently trading at $0).


FedExCup Fairness

One of the big changes made to the PGA Tour for 2024 was how FedExCup (FEC) points would be distributed. Last year, the majors and (select) elevated events received slightly more points than regular events, with most of the difference occurring at the top of the distribution (major winners received 600 vs 500 points, while 20th place received 51 vs 45 points). This season the signature events and the majors/Players are receiving significantly more points. The winners now get 700 and 750 points, respectively, but the important increases occur further down the leaderboard, with 20th place receiving 100 points in signature events and majors (and still 45 in regular FEC events).

To evaluate the fairness of these distributions, we estimated the expected points for a benchmark player for each tournament in 2023. This tells us how many points the same player is expected to earn at each event; if the point distributions are perfectly fair, this player’s expected points should be the same across events. For our benchmark we used a player with a skill level of +0.45, which is in the neighborhood of the 60-70th best player on the PGA Tour.

First we’ll discuss the old distributions. Unsurprisingly, FEC points were much harder to come by in tournaments with stronger fields in 2023. Our benchmark player could expect to earn just 19 points at the Travelers Championship (which was an elevated event last year but still only received regular FEC points), while at the Bermuda Championship they could expect to earn 52.6! The majors and Players had an (average) expected points value of 21.8, while for opposite-field events (where the winner receives 300 points) that value was 43.1.

So the story of the old FEC point distributions is clear: tournaments with weaker fields offered more points than their field strengths warranted. One interesting exercise we can do is to add up expected points for different playing schedules in 2023. Using Justin Thomas’ 20-event schedule up to the end of the PGA Tour regular season, our benchmark player would expect to earn 515 points (25.7 per event). Using Harry Hall’s 27-event schedule, which included most of the fall events and a couple opposite events, our benchmark player would expect 897 points (33.2 per event)!

Now let’s look at the new FEC distributions. Using the 2023 schedule and fields, but using the new distributions for signature events and majors/Players, the expected points by event type are: majors + Players: 38.6, full-field signature: 39.8, regular: 33.6, opposite: 43.6, Sentry: 102.7. The new point distributions applied to last year’s schedule look pretty fair (apart from the Sentry, which gets way too many points given its small field).

However, there has been one other important change for 2024: signature events now only have ~80 players and (most?) won’t have a cut, meaning that players are guaranteed to earn points. Here are the expected points for our benchmark player at each event so far in 2024: Sentry (70), Sony (27.1), American Express (25), Farmers (24.6), Pebble (55.1). The Sony/Amex/Farmers are all stronger-than-average regular FEC events, so it’s hard to say what the 2024 regular event average will be (it was 33.6 in 2023, excluding elevated events), but it looks like playing in the limited-field signature events this year will be worth 20-25 points per event (compared to playing in a regular event), which is pretty significant when thinking about the season-long race.


Digits Of The Week

+11.7

Joaquin Niemann shot a 59 in the first round of LIV Mayakoba, gaining 11.6 shots over the field and beating the 2nd best score of the day by 5. A minor adjustment for field strength yielded a True SG value of +11.7, which we rate as the 3rd best round on the major tours since 2004. The smaller field, as well as the penalizing nature of El Camaleon, likely helped Niemann separate from the pack.

Wyndham Clark’s course-record-breaking 60 on Saturday at Pebble Beach also made our all-time best rounds list, coming in at 45th (+9.1 raw, +9.9 true).


Rankings Update

It has been a slow start to 2024 for the world's best players:

Among those in the DG Top 10 to start the year, only Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy have won. Jon Rahm, who came T3 in his LIV debut last week, is the only player whose estimated skill has risen since the start of the year.

Even Scottie Scheffler's ball-striking is showing signs of weakness—he lost strokes off-the-tee last week for the first time since the 2022 PGA Championship (37 starts ago!).

Top 10 (see all)
Player DG OWGR
Scottie Scheffler 1 1
Rory McIlroy 2 2
Xander Schauffele 3 1 5
Viktor Hovland 4 1 4
Jon Rahm 5 3
Collin Morikawa 6 13 1
Patrick Cantlay 7 1 7 1
Max Homa 8 1 8 1
Tyrrell Hatton 9 1 15 1
Tommy Fleetwood 10 1 12 1
Notables
Ludvig Aberg 11 5 11 16
Justin Thomas 13 4 19 7
Joaquin Niemann 20 7 74 8
Nicolai Hojgaard 25 2 31 1
Wyndham Clark 27 16 6 4
Thorbjorn Olesen 34 1 56 1
Matthieu Pavon 37 23 26 8
Sergio Garcia 78 30
Caleb Surratt 166 20
Isaiah Salinda 250 108 202 249
Dylan Frittelli 421 191

Wyndham Clark won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am thanks to his Saturday 60 (and some bad weather that forced the PGA Tour to shorten the event to 54 holes). According to our model, Clark had a 30% chance of winning—and an 80% chance to top 5—before the event was called off.

As we noted in our last newsletter, Justin Thomas appears to be bombing the ball again. Last week at Pebble—on his way to a T6 finish—this continued as he averaged 22 yards longer than the tour average on measured drives, and ranked 7th in the field in distance on all drives. JT is now up to 13th in our rankings—his low point was 70th after the 3M Open last summer.

Dylan Frittelli had an awful 2023. He fell outside the top 500 in our rankings and down to 438th in the OWGR. He ended 2023 with a couple solid finishes on the DP World Tour, and now he's found his way back into the winner's circle with a win in Bahrain last week. We watched Frittelli leaving the parking lot in Harbour Town last year after opening with an 80, shooting 44 on his opening 9 Friday, and WDing. Honestly it was tough to watch, and we chose to leave that nugget out of our newsletter from that week. Glad to see his game has turned the corner.

Isaiah Salinda won the Panama Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour by 8 shots last week, moving him up to 250th in our rankings. We ranked Salinda has the 7th best amateur the summer before he turned pro, and the 123rd best amateur since 2010. After some early stuggles in his professional career, his strokes-gained moving average has finally returned to the peak levels he reached as an amateur.


Korn Ferry Concerns

Letzig has discovered some odd patterns coming out of the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour data.

Austin Hitt has—allegedly—opened his season with 3 consecutive T11 finishes... and is currently ranked 11th on the Korn Ferry Points list. Meanwhile, Brandon Crick has missed all three cuts exactly on the number.

One more week of oddities and we might need to send someone down to South America to confirm these tournaments are actually being played.


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Past Issues
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)