Who’s the best right now?

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Who would you say is the world’s best golfer right now at what is roughly the mid-point of the golfing year as we head towards the Open Championship, the 3rd of 2012’s four Majors?

You might say Luke Donald because he is currently the No 1 on the official World Ranking list – until you remember that the rankings are based on a moving two-year timeline.

You might then say it’s a toss-up between Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, the respective winners of the Masters and the US Open, the season’s first two majors – until you look back at past results of the majors and note that a few of the winners have been pretty much one-off, flash-in-the pans never to be heard of again.

On the other hand you might look at the current money list of the world’s two biggest tours, the US PGA and European Tours, and nominate your world’s best golfer from one of these.

As things are right now, Jason Dufner with US$4,077 is the top man in the US followed by Watson on $3,732.

In Europe it is Justin Rose with €1,765,132 and Rory McIlroy €1,350,126 who are the biggest money winners, but it really isn’t possible to melt the players of both tours into one list based on the value of their winnings because they have been earned on different courses with different purses.

So where do you go from here?

You can look at the stats, of course, but again you have to take into account that they have been compiled on different courses with different levels of competition.

The longest driver would probably be the longest on both tours, although again the conditions of the courses on which the drives were hit might also affect an all-in-one comparison, partly because golf balls tend to travel further on hard, dry courses and at high altitudes and partly because players sometimes use a three wood off the tee for tactical reasons.

For the record, Bubba Watson, with an average distance of 316.3 yards is currently America’s big bomber with the driver while in Europe it is Belgium’s rising star, Nicolas Colsaerts, who, with an average of 317.6 yards, is top of the driving averages with Spain’s Alvaro Quiros (316.1 yards) close behind.

Perhaps three more important stats are the stroke averages per round, the percentage of greens hit in regulation and the number of putts needed per round, because all too often in golf, it’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.

The stroke Averages bring Matt Kuchar (69.16) and Tiger Woods (69.28) into the picture in America and Lee Westwood (69.97) and Justin Rose (70.00) in Europe.

The percentage of greens hit in regulation, on the other hand, putt the list toppers in the US in this category – Bubba Watson (72.36) and Lee Westwood (71.63) – firmly back in the equation.

In Europe the men leading the GIR list are Victor Dubuisson (79.0) and Louis Oosthuizen (78.7) but neither are contenders right now for best golfer

So where does that leave you halfway through 2012?

There’s still a long way to go to be sure, but perhaps the most prominent names bidding for the title of best golfer right now might be Watson, who in America at least, stands out like a beacon.

For right now, apart from winning the season’s first major at Augusta, he is:
– 7th on the World Rankings list is.
– Is the second highest prize money earner so far this year.
– Currently tops the list on the PGA Tour of greens hit in regulation (72.36%).
– Heads the Tour’s list of longest drivers (316.3 yards) and..
– Is 9th on the list of Average Strokes per round where his 69.16 is only 0.55 behind Kuchar’s list-topping 69.16 and is just 0.43 behind second-placed Woods’ 69.28.

Watson doesn’t make the top 10 in driving accuracy which is headed up right now by Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell with 70.98% of fairways hit from the tee, but in the light of the fact that Watson is tops when hitting the greens in regulation, this is not a critical stat in Watson’s case.

More critical might be Watson’s putting stats. He does not make the top 20 on the list of the Average No of Putts per Round. Brandt Snedeker with an average of 27.83 heads this list.

Nor is Watson in the top 20 on the Putts Saved per Round statistic which is lead by Aaron Baddeley (.808) and Luke Donald (.758).

By the end of the season, that might count against him, but as we head into July, he is clearly the man who is the PGA Tour stat standout.

Over in Europe your usual suspects top the Money list with Rose (€1,765,132) leading McIlroy (€1,350,126) and Westwood (€1,343,732).

In the Stroke Average per Round stat Westwood (69.97) leads Justin Rose (70.00) and 2010 Open Champion, Oosthuizen (70.09) and while any of the above might still challenge for the best golfer spot by the end of the year, none can claim to have done enough up till now to top Watson at the mid-point of the year.

But in case you disagree with this assessment, here are some stats that might help you to decide on your own man of the moment.World Rankings

The Top 20 on Monday, June 25, 2012 were:
1 Luke Donald (Eng) 9.96pts
2 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 8.89
3 Lee Westwood (Eng) 8.83
4 Tiger Woods (USA) 6.70
5 Webb Simpson (USA) 6.62
6 Bubba Watson (USA) 6.25
7 Matt Kuchar (USA) 5.90
8 Jason Dufner (USA) 5.75
9 Justin Rose (Eng) 5.61
10 Hunter Mahan (USA) 5.41
11 Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 5.16
12 Steve Stricker (USA) 5.03
13 Dustin Johnson (USA) 4.89
14 Phil Mickelson (USA) 4.86
15 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 4.84
16 Adam Scott (Aus) 4.68
17 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 4.60
18 Zach Johnson (USA) 4.58
19 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 4.49
20 Rickie Fowler (USA) 4.49

US PGA TOUR stats

US Money List
1 Jason Dufner $4,077,013
2 Bubba Watson $3,732,778
3 Hunter Mahan $3,387,212
4 Matt Kuchar $3,325,352
5 Rory McIlroy $3,164,700
6 Zach Johnson $3,084,941
7 Tiger Woods $3,050,398
8 Phil Mickelson $2,857,371
9 Webb Simpson $2,771,722
10 Rickie Fowler $2,731,569.

Average Strokes per Round
1 Matt Kuchar 69.16
2 Tiger Woods 69.28
3 Jim Furyk 69.36
4 Jason Dufner 69.46
5 Padraig Harrington 69.48
6 Rory McIlroy 69.49
7 Justin Rose 69.54
8 Lee Westwood 69.60
9 Bubba Watson 69.71
10 Zach Johnson 69.73.

Greens in regulation (Percentage of greens hit)
1 Bubba Watson 72.36
2 Lee Westwood 71.63
3 Justin Rose 70.33
4 Hunter Maha 70.00
5 John Senden 69.81
6 Jason Dufner 69.44
7 Greg Owe 68.65
8 Will Claxton 68.48
9 Tiger Woods 68.18
10 Martin Laird 68.09.

Driving Distance (Average distance of measured drives)
1 Bubba Watson 316.3
2 Jamie Lovemark 310.4
3 Robert Garrigus 308.5
4 Charlie Beljan 307.0
5 J.B. Holmes 306.3
6 Kyle Stanley 305.3
T7 Jason Kokrak 304.2
T7 Rory McIlroy 304.2
9 Dustin Johnson 303.7
10 Jason Day 303.0.

Driving accuracy (% of fairways hit per round)
1 Graeme McDowell 70.98
2 Heath Slocum 69.99
3 Jerry Kelly 69.80
4 Jim Furyk 69.0
5 Tim Clark 68.90
6 Brian Davis 68.51
7 David Toms 68.43
8 Mark Wilson 68.32
9 John Huh 68.05
10 John Mallinger 67.97

Average putts per round
1 Brandt Snedeker 27.83
2 David Duval 27.93
3 Jonas Blixt 28.00
4 Zach Johnson 28.03
5 Greg Chalmers 28.07
T6 Aaron Baddeley 28.08
T6 Brian Gay 28.08
8 Chris DiMarco 28.20
9 David Mathis 28.23
10 Charlie W 28.24

Putts saved per round
1 Aaron Baddeley .808
2 Luke Donald .758
3 Bo Van Pelt .723
4 Derek Lamely .719
5 Zach Johnson .709
6 David Duval .697
7 Bryce Molder .678
8 Brian Gay .656
9 Ryan Palmer .645
10 Martin Flores .616.

EUROPEAN TOUR

Race To Dubain Money List:
1 Justin Rose €1,765,132
3 Lee Westwood €1,343,732
4 Branden Grace €1,297,479
5 Louis Oosthuizen €1,295,314
6 Paul Lawrie €1,238,396
7 Graeme Mcdowell €1,205,708
8 Nicolas Colsaerts €1,185,558
9 Peter Hanson €1,098,374
10 Luke Donald €1,023,278.

Stroke Average per Round
1 Lee Westwood 69.97
2 Justin Rose 70.00
3 Louis Oosthuizen 70.09
4 Magnus A Carlsson 70.14
5 Prom Meesawat 70.25
6 Nicolas Colsaerts 70.29
7 Sihwan Ki 70.42
8 Peter Hanso 70.45
9 Branden Grace 70.49
10 Marcel Siem 70.53.

Greens in regulation
1 Victor Dubuisson 79.0
2 Louis Oosthuizen 78.7
3 Ian Poulter 77.8
4 Francesco Molinari 77.4
5 Ernie Els 77.1
6 Sergio Garcia 77.0
7 Magnus A Carlsson 76.7
8 David Drysdale 75.9
9 Nicolas Colsaerts 75.7
10 John Daly 75.65.

Driving distance averages
1 Nicolas Colsaerts 317.6
2 Alvaro Quiros 316.1
3 Scott Hend 310.2
4 John Daly 309.2
5 Jean-François Lucquin 308.9
6 Charles-Edouard Russo 306.1
7 Anirban Lahiri 305.9
8 Agustin Domingo 305.7
9 Pelle Edberg 304.0
10 Sam Walker 303.5

Driving Accuracy (Average fairways hit per round)
1 Adilson Da Silva 12.1
2 Adrian Otaegui 11.2
3 Matthew Nixon 10.4
4 Ian Poulter 10.3
5 David Drysdale 10.2
6 Ignacio Garrido 10.0
7 Peter Lawrie 9.9
8 Phillip Price 9.9
9 Simon Wakefield 9.8
10 Scott Barr 9.9.

Average Putts Per Round
1 Rikard Karlberg 27.4
2 Marcus Fraser 8.1
3 Sam Walker 28.1
4 Thaworn Wiratchant 28.1
5 George Coetzee 28.3
6 Brett Rumford 28.4
7 Daniel Gaunt 28.4
8 Luke Donald 28.4
9 Roope Kakko 28.4
10 Mikael Lundberg 28.5

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