I was watching the Scottish Championship on the European Tour on Thursday, and they were interviewing eventual winner Adrian Otaegui after he opened with a tournament-leading 10-under 62 at Fairmont St. Andrews. Otaegui was telling the interviewer how he felt a good round and a great performance had been coming, even though his finishes and scores didn't necessarily indicate it was imminent.
Always looking for an edge and a better way to look at players, I wondered what kind of markers we might be able to find for players who are on the come -- even if their results aren't showing it.
The best single statistic we have available is something we already track. We compare a player's average strokes gained tee-to-green per round in the prior 50 PGA Tour events to the same measure in the prior 10 PGA Tour events. This gives us an indication if a player is trending above or below their long-term baseline performance in the one stat that can really tell us if a player is ready to breakout.
However, averages are problematic from a statistical point of view, particularly with a relatively small sample size and the possibility of erratic changes in values in the data set. We typically see some pretty dramatic ranges in strokes gained tee-to-green from event to event, for a variety of reasons. Averaging out that data creates a comparison point between players, but it doesn't tell us the players who are more consistent from event to event, course to course, grass to grass, field to field.
That's why we should be using long-term variance to give us a better clue as to the best players on Tour in terms of consistency.
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