2011 PGA Tour: Ranking the Tournaments from Easiest to Toughest
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
Date: January 6-9
Location: Kapalua, Hawaii
Course: The Plantation Course
Average Score: 70.09
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
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
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
Date: February 3-6.
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Course: TPC Scottsdale
Average Score: 69.52
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
Date: June 23-26
Location: Cromwell, Connecticut
Course: TPC River Highlands
Average Score: 68.57
Winner: Frederic Jacobsen with a 20 under-par total of 260
28. John Deere Classic
Date: July 7-10
Location: Silvis, Illinois
Course: TPC Deere Run
Average Score: 69.61
Winner: Steve Stricker with a 22 under-par total of 262
27. Wyndham Championship
Date: August 18-21
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
Course: Sedgefield CC
Average Score: 68.79
Winner: Webb Simpson with an 18 under par total of 262
26. WGC Cadillac Championship
Date: March 10-13
Location: Doral, Florida
Course: TPC Blue Monster
Average Score: 71.48
Winner: Nick Watney with a 16 under par total of 262
The field only featured 66 players and had no cut.
25. Sony Open
Date: January 13-16
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Course: Waialae CC
Average Score: 69.5
Winner: Mark Wilson with a 16 under par total of 264
24. Shell Houston Open
Date: March 31 - April 3
Location: Humble, Texas
Course: Redstone Golf Club
Average Score: 71.74
Winner: Phil Mickelson with a 20 under-par total of 268
23. Transitions Championship
Date: March 17-20
Location: Palm Harbor, Florida
Course: Innisbrook Resort-Copperhead
Average Score: 70.82
Winner: Gary Woodland with a 15 under-par total of 269
22. Wells Fargo Championship
Date: May 5-8
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Course: Quail Hollow Club
Average Score: 71.95
Winner: Lucas Glover with a 15 under-par total of 273
Glover defeated Jonathan Byrd in a playoff to win.
21. The PLAYERS Championship
Date: May 12-15
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Course: TPC Sawgrass
Average Score: 72
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
Date: May 19-22
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Course: Colonial Country Club
Average Score: 70.08
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
Date: April 21-24
Location: Hilton Head, South Carolina
Course: Harbour Town Golf Links
Average Score: 71.09
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
Date: April 28 - May 1
Location: Avondale, Louisiana
Course: TPC Avondale
Average Score: 72.11
Winner: Bubba Watson with a 15 under-par total of 273
Watson defeated Webb Simpson in a playoff.
17. The Memorial by Nationwide Insurance
Date: June 2-5
Location: Dublin, Ohio
Course: Muirfield Village GC
Average Score: 72.13
Winner: Steve Stricker with a 16 under-par total of 272
16. WGC Bridgestone Invitational
Date: August 4-7
Location: Akron, Ohio
Course: Firestone CC
Average Score: 70.17
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
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
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
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
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
Date: April 7-10
Location: Augusta, Georgia
Course: Augusta National
Average Score: 72.57
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
Date: July 28-31
Location: White Sulfer Springs, West Virginia
Course: The Old White TPC
Average Score: 70.59
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
Date: June 30 - July 3
Location: Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
Course: Aronimink Golf Club
Average Score: 70.72
Winner: Nick Watney with a 13 under-par total of 267
10. Northern Trust Open
Date: February 17-20
Location: Pacific Palisades, California
Course: Riviera Country Club
Average Score: 71.84
Winner: Aaron Baddeley with a 12 under-par total of 272
9. FedEx St. Jude Classic
Date: June 9-12
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Course: TPC Southwind
Average Score: 70.99
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
Date: March 24-27
Location: Orlando, Florida
Course: Bay Hill Club and Lodge
Average Score: 73.2
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
Date: April 14-17
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Course: TPC San Antonio
Average Score: 73.67
Winner: Brendan Steele with an eight under-par total of 280
6. US Open
Date: June 16-19
Location: Bethesada, Maryland
Course: Congressional Country Club
Average Score: 73.28
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
Date: August 11-14
Location: Johns Creek, Georgia
Course: Highlands Course, Atlanta Athletic Club
Average Score: 72.31
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
Date: May 26-29
Location: Irving, Texas
Course: TPC Four Seasons Resort
Average Score: 72.35
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
Date: July 21-24
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Course: Shaughnessy Golf and CC
Average Score: 72.52
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
Date: March 3-6
Location: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Course: PGA National Champion Course
Average Score: 72.54
Winner: Rory Sabbatini with a nine under-par total of 271.
1. The British Open
Date: July 14-17
Location: Sandwich, England
Course: Royal St. George's
Average Score: 72.91
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.