Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The numbers say Phil needs Tiger...

It's been quite a while since I posted a blog here, so thanks to all of you who have missed my blogging and/or left comments. After watching Phil Mickelson win his third Masters title this past Sunday, (and a BIG congratulations go out to you, Phil!) I felt inspired to blog again.

As those who follow the game closely know, "Lefty's" play had been very lackluster ever since winning the TOUR Championship last September. His finishes over that time: 19,45,8,24,14,30 and 35. Certainly not the type of play you would expect to preceed a major title. All of this got me to thinking about the last time Phil's play was lackluster - the latter part of the 2008 season into early 2009. Not coincidentally (in my opinion), the missing ingredient or common denominator was a certain man named Woods. Check out some numbers I just threw together on Phil on his PGA Tour play since the beginning of the 2008 season. By my count, "Lefty" has played 45 competitive PGA Tour events over that time. In 27 of those tournaments, Tiger was also in the field.

With Tiger in the field (27 tournaments):
Wins: 5 (18.5%)
Top 5's: 10 (37.0%)
Top 10's: 12 (44.4%)
Top 30's: 21 (77.8%)
Median: 14.5

Without Tiger in the field (18 tournaments):
Wins: 1 (5.6%) - note, win was the week prior to Tiger's last return
Top 5's: 3 (16.7%)
Top 10's: 5 (27.8%)
Top 30's: 12 (66.7%)
Median: 19.0

Pretty striking, isn't it? Phil was 3 1/3 times more likely to win with Tiger in the field than not! He was also 2 2/3 times more likely top have a top five finish with Tiger in the field. Given his often "go for broke" style of play, it's not too surprising that when he's out of contention, the "Tiger effect" isn't nearly as pronounced for Phil as shown by the median finishes of 14.5 with Tiger in the field vs. 19.0 without the world's #1 player amongst the competitors.

The bottom line based on the numbers of the past two plus years is that Tiger seems to inspire Phil's play. When Phil is near the top of the leaderboard, he's a MUCH better and more focused player and much more likely to place in the top 5 and/or win!

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