2011 PGA Tour: Ranking the Tournaments from Easiest to Toughest

Mike LynchContributor IIIAugust 31, 2011

2011 PGA Tour: Ranking the Tournaments from Easiest to Toughest

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    With the regular season behind us, I decided to look back and see how difficult each tournament proved to be.  Even though the majors are not hosted by the PGA Tour, they were included.  I did not include the tournaments played concurrently with WGC events or The British Open.

    The ranking was done by comparing the tournament scoring average in relation to par.  For example, the average score at the Masters was 72.57.  The course is a par 72 so the differential is +0.57.  The ranking was strictly based upon this formula.

    There are many variables that can affect the scoring average at a tournament.  The field, the cut procedure and using multiple courses are a few.  I make note of the tournaments in which there is an obvious factor that affects the scoring average.  

    The rankings are not adjusted because ultimately it is impossible to quantify such factors with complete accuracy.  For example, the WGC tournaments have no cut.  I could try to factor in the effect of a cut by finding the average difference of strokes between the first two rounds compared to the final 36 holes in all events with a cut.  The problem is that the score would become a prediction rather than being based solely on actual play.   

    Here are all of the stroke play tournaments ranked from easiest to hardest. 

32. Hyundai Tournament of Champions

1 of 32

    Date: January 6-9

    Location: Kapalua, Hawaii

    Course: The Plantation Course

    Yardage: 7411

    Par: 73

    Average Score: 70.09

    Differential: -2.91 

    Winner: Jonathan Byrd

    The seasons first event was also its easiest.  Jonathan Byrd finished with a 24 under par total of 268.  He defeated Robert Garrigus in a playoff.

31. Bob Hope Classic

2 of 32

    Date: January 19-23

    Location: La Quinta, California

    Courses: Palmer and Nicklaus Courses at PGA West, La Quinta CC and Silver Rock

    Yardages: Palmer, 6,930.  Nicklaus, 6,924.  La Quinta CC, 7,060. Silver Rock, 7,403

    Par: All four courses are par 72

    Average Score: 69.47

    Differential: -2.53

    Winner: Jhonattan Vegas, 27 under-par total of 333

    Vegas defeated Bill Haas and Gary Woodland in a playoff.  The Pro-Am event was 5 rounds, with the Palmer course being used twice.  The cut came after four rounds. 

30. Waste Management Open

3 of 32

    Date: February 3-6. 

    Location: Scottsdale, Arizona

    Course: TPC Scottsdale

    Yardage: 7,216

    Par: 71

    Average Score: 69.52

    Differential: -1.48

    Winner: Mark Wilson with an 18 under-par total of 266

    Wilson won his second event of the season, beating Jason Duffner in a playoff.

29. Travelers Championship

4 of 32

    Date: June 23-26

    Location: Cromwell, Connecticut

    Course: TPC River Highlands

    Yardage: 6,844

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 68.57

    Differential: -1.43

    Winner: Frederic Jacobsen with a 20 under-par total of 260

28. John Deere Classic

5 of 32

    Date: July 7-10

    Location: Silvis, Illinois

    Course: TPC Deere Run

    Yardage: 7,257

    Par: 71

    Average Score: 69.61

    Differential: -1.39

    Winner: Steve Stricker with a 22 under-par total of 262

27. Wyndham Championship

6 of 32

    Date: August 18-21

    Location: Greensboro, North Carolina

    Course: Sedgefield CC

    Yardage: 7130

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 68.79

    Differential: -1.21

    Winner: Webb Simpson with an 18 under par total of 262

26. WGC Cadillac Championship

7 of 32

    Date: March 10-13

    Location: Doral, Florida

    Course: TPC Blue Monster

    Yardage: 7,266 

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 71.48

    Differential: -0.52

    Winner: Nick Watney with a 16 under par total of 262

    The field only featured 66 players and had no cut.  

25. Sony Open

8 of 32

    Date: January 13-16

    Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

    Course: Waialae CC 

    Yardage: 7,068

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 69.5

    Differential: -0.50

    Winner: Mark Wilson with a 16 under par total of 264

24. Shell Houston Open

9 of 32

    Date: March 31 - April 3

    Location: Humble, Texas

    Course: Redstone Golf Club

    Yardage: 7,457

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 71.74

    Differential: -0.26

    Winner: Phil Mickelson with a 20 under-par total of 268

23. Transitions Championship

10 of 32

    Date: March 17-20

    Location: Palm Harbor, Florida

    Course: Innisbrook Resort-Copperhead

    Yardage: 7,340

    Par: 71

    Average Score: 70.82

    Differential: -0.18

    Winner: Gary Woodland with a 15 under-par total of 269

22. Wells Fargo Championship

11 of 32

    Date: May 5-8

    Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

    Course: Quail Hollow Club

    Yardage: 7,422

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 71.95

    Differential: -0.05

    Winner: Lucas Glover with a 15 under-par total of 273

    Glover defeated Jonathan Byrd in a playoff to win.

21. The PLAYERS Championship

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    Date: May 12-15

    Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

    Course: TPC Sawgrass

    Yardage: 7,215

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 72

    Differential: 0

    Winner: K.J Choi with a 13 under-par total of 275

    The PGA Tour could not have been too happy about its signature event.  Tiger Woods played like a weekend golfer and withdrew after five holes.  The tournament proved to be a rather easy event on the calendar.  Choi defeated David Toms in a playoff.

20. Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

13 of 32

    Date: May 19-22

    Location: Fort Worth, Texas

    Course: Colonial Country Club

    Yardage: 7,204

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 70.08

    Differential: +0.08

    Winner: David Toms with a 15 under-par total of 265

    Scoring got much higher as windy conditions moved in on the weekend.  Toms win came after losing in a playoff the previous week.

19. The Heritage

14 of 32

    Date: April 21-24

    Location: Hilton Head, South Carolina

    Course: Harbour Town Golf Links

    Yardage: 6,943

    Par: 71

    Average Score: 71.09

    Differential: +0.09

    Winner: Brandt Snedeker with a 12 under par total of 272

    Snedeker defeated Luke Donald, the worlds top ranked player, in a playoff.

18. Zurich Classic of New Orleans

15 of 32

    Date: April 28 - May 1

    Location: Avondale, Louisiana

    Course: TPC Avondale

    Yardage: 7,341

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 72.11

    Differential: +0.11

    Winner: Bubba Watson with a 15 under-par total of 273

    Watson defeated Webb Simpson in a playoff.

17. The Memorial by Nationwide Insurance

16 of 32

    Date: June 2-5

    Location: Dublin, Ohio

    Course: Muirfield Village GC

    Yardage: 7,265

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 72.13

    Differential: +0.13

    Winner: Steve Stricker with a 16 under-par total of 272

16. WGC Bridgestone Invitational

17 of 32

    Date: August 4-7

    Location: Akron, Ohio

    Course: Firestone CC

    Yardage: 7,400

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 70.17

    Differential: +0.17

    Winner: Adam Scott with a 17 under-par total of 263.

    Another WGC event that featured a small field and no cut.  Scott won with Tiger Woods former caddie, Steve Williams, on the bag.  It was Woods' first tournament since May.

15. Farmers Insurance Open

18 of 32

    Date: January 27-30

    Location: La Jolla, California

    Course: Torrey Pines South Course and North Course

    Yardage: South, 7,569.  North, 6,874

    Par: Both 72

    Average Score: 72.2

    Differential: +0.20

    Winner: Bubba Watson with a 16 under par total of 272

    The first 36 holes used both courses.  After the cut, only the South Course was played.  That was the venue of the 2008 US Open.  The event likely would have produced higher scores had all rounds been on the South Course.

14. AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

19 of 32

    Date: February 10-13

    Location: Monterey Peninsula, California

    Courses: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill GC and Monterey Peninsula CC

    Yardages: Pebble, 6,816.  Spyglass, 6,858.  Monterey, 6,838 

    Par: 72 for Pebble and Spyglass.  Monterey is a 70 

    Average Score: 71.66

    Differential: +0.26

    Winner: D.A. Points with a 15 under-par total of 271

    The differential is based on a par average of 71.4.  Each course was played once before the cut.  The final round was played at Pebble Beach.  The players making the cut needed to shoot 286 to finish at even par.  This is a total of 71.5 strokes per round.  

    Following three rounds, even par was a total of 214 which is 71.33 strokes per round.  44.9 percent of the field played four rounds, so the 71.4 total works.  It is close enough to the precise total that it doesn't affect the rankings.     

13. The Masters

20 of 32

    Date: April 7-10

    Location: Augusta, Georgia

    Course: Augusta National

    Yardage: 7,435

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 72.57

    Differential: +0.57

    Winner: Charl Schwartzel with a 14 under-par total of 274

    The Masters checks in as the easiest major of 2011.  This is not much of surprise given its many scoring chances.  I did not expect nine non major tournaments on the PGA Tour to play more difficult than Augusta.

12. The Greenbrier Classic

21 of 32

    Date: July 28-31

    Location: White Sulfer Springs, West Virginia

    Course: The Old White TPC

    Yardage: 7210

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 70.59

    Differential: +0.59

    Winner: Scott Stallings with a 10 under-par total of 270

    After being a punching bag in 2010, the renovations at Old White bit back.  Stallings beat Bill Haas and Bob Estes in a playoff.

11. AT&T National

22 of 32

    Date: June 30 - July 3

    Location: Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

    Course: Aronimink Golf Club

    Yardage: 7,206

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 70.72

    Differential: +0.72

    Winner: Nick Watney with a 13 under-par total of 267

10. Northern Trust Open

23 of 32

    Date: February 17-20

    Location: Pacific Palisades, California

    Course: Riviera Country Club 

    Yardage: 7,298

    Par: 71

    Average Score: 71.84

    Differential: +0.84

    Winner: Aaron Baddeley with a 12 under-par total of 272 

9. FedEx St. Jude Classic

24 of 32

    Date: June 9-12

    Location: Memphis, Tennessee 

    Course: TPC Southwind

    Yardage: 7,244

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 70.99

    Differential: +0.99

    Winner:  Harrison Frazar with a 13 under-par 267

    Frazar defeated Robert Karlsson via playoff in the week prior to the US Open.

8. Arnold Palmer Invitational

25 of 32

    Date: March 24-27

    Location: Orlando, Florida

    Course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge

    Yardage: 7,381

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 73.2

    Differential: +1.2

    Winner: Martin Laird with an eight under-par total of 280

    Laird shot a final round 75.  Winds made scores skyrocket on Sunday.

7. Valero Texas Open

26 of 32

    Date: April 14-17

    Location: San Antonio, Texas

    Course: TPC San Antonio

    Yardage: 7,522

    Par: 72

    Average Score: 73.67

    Differential: +1.67

    Winner: Brendan Steele with an eight under-par total of 280

6. US Open

27 of 32

    Date: June 16-19

    Location: Bethesada, Maryland

    Course: Congressional Country Club

    Yardage: 7,574

    Par: 71

    Average Score: 73.28

    Differential: +2.28

    Winner: Rory McIlroy with a 16 under-par total of 268

    McIlroy broke the all time scoring record with his mark.  The course played softer and had lighter rough than was expected.

5. PGA Championship

28 of 32

    Date: August 11-14

    Location: Johns Creek, Georgia

    Course: Highlands Course, Atlanta Athletic Club

    Yardage: 7467

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 72.31

    Differential: +2.31

    Winner:  Keegan Bradley with an eight under-par total of 272

    Bradley defeated Jason Dufner by one stroke in a three hole playoff.  The 2012 PGA Championship is being held at the notorious Kiawah Island Ocean Course.  It may top the US Open again.

4. HP Byron Nelson Championship

29 of 32

    Date: May 26-29

    Location: Irving, Texas

    Course: TPC Four Seasons Resort

    Yardage: 7,235

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 72.35

    Differential: +2.35

    Winner: Keegan Bradley with a three under-par total of 277

    Bradley won over Ryan Palmer in a playoff.  Both of his wins in 2011 came from behind on very tough courses.

3. RBC Canadian Open

30 of 32

    Date: July 21-24

    Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

    Course: Shaughnessy Golf and CC

    Yardage: 7,010

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 72.52

    Differential: +2.52

    Winner: Sean O'Hair with a four under-par total of 276

    Not many would have guessed the Canadian Open would play tougher then the US Open. Extreme rough penalized stray shots.  O'Hair won in a playoff over Kris Blanks.

2. Honda Classic

31 of 32

    Date: March 3-6

    Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

    Course: PGA National Champion Course

    Yardage: 7,158

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 72.54

    Differential: +2.54

    Winner: Rory Sabbatini with a nine under-par total of 271.

1. The British Open

32 of 32

    Date: July 14-17

    Location: Sandwich, England

    Course: Royal St. George's

    Yardage: 7,211

    Par: 70

    Average Score: 72.91

    Differential: +2.91

    Winner: Darren Clarke with a five under-par total of 275.

    Clarke was three shots clear of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.  It is not surprising to see the British Open play so tough given the conditions.  It was by far the toughest major of 2011.