Wednesday Thoughts


Can someone please tell me where I can get the numbers for total yearly PGA Tour prize money going back thirty or more years?

11:00 am   Test Your Memory:  Quick, tell me what Tiger Woods did at St. Andrews!

If you are anything like me, you drew a blank for quite a bit of time.

I was doing Google news searches this morning and found an article from prior to the Greenbrier trumpeting that Tiger Woods shot a 32 for nine holes in a practice round.  That was reason for optimism, blah, blah, blah.  I couldn’t remember anything about Greenbrier other than Woods missed the cut.   Oh, wait, no.  He finished T-32.  I remember that now.

Then I thought about Woods at the British Open.  Again, I recalled that he missed the cut.  He did miss the cut, didn’t he?  After further reflection, yes, he did.  He had to play out his final weather-delayed holes on Saturday with nothing on the line.

Could I remember anything else?  No, nothing at all.  Oh, wait, he dumped his very first approach on his very first hole into the Swilcan Burn.

My point:  Woods was as much of a non-factor as it is possible to be at a golf tournament.  His playing poorly isn’t even memorable any more.  The sports world has been discussing Spieth nonstop, and the exciting finish.  (And Rory wasn’t even playing.)  I am sensing the golf media is finally — reluctantly — moving on.

That said, let Woods shoot another good score in a practice round and they will all rush back to All Tiger All The Time mode.  They are weasels, and scared, imitative weasels at that.

More Thoughts on Justin Ray’s Stupidstics:

But what’s the point (of the example below)?  Is he telling us Jason Day is A Big Choker?  I certainly don’t see that.  Day had the worst of the weather on Sunday at St. Andrews and missed by one stroke.  At Chambers Bay, he had freaking vertigo and collapsed on the 54th fairway.  And he shared the lead with three other players (who didn’t collapse on the 54th fairway).

We are not told how many people (since WWII, an arbitrary starting point) held the lead at 54 holes in both events.  What was the sample size?  How many people held the lead in the second after holding the lead in the first and not winning? Three?  Sixty?  Who knows?  Ray didn’t say.

And isn’t there a pretty substantial difference between leading solo by six and being part of a four-way pack and not even knowing if you will be able to play the final round because of vertigo?

Ray’s stupidstics are supposed to have some great “historical” relevance?

There is a randomness to Ray’s information that takes away all meaning.  It’s like dumping a jar full of coins onto the floor seventy times, then “analyzing trends.”

“Every time twelve or more nickels came up heads, only twice was the number of heads-up quarters and dimes less than twenty-six or more than thirty-three.”  Yes, and the point is?  That life is full of random, meaningless patterns?

And when your sample size is small — and in almost every case, Ray’s sample size is small — you’re going to see a lot of “first time in history.”

And then there is the sleight-of-hand aspect.  A lot of stats seem “mind-blowing” — until you look under the hood.  Take the Birthday Problem.  If you randomly ask people their birthday, how many do you need to ask before you have a 50 percent probability that two of them have the same birthday?  How many for a 99.9 percent probability?  The answers are 23 and 70.  Yeah, I know: it seems that can’t possibly be right.

Here’s the Justin Ray formula:

Randomness of life +  Small sample size +  Sleight of hands = Random after-the-fact cherry-picked Justin Ray stupidstic.

Stupidstic of the Ray: Frankly, I’m disappointed in Mr Elling for retweeting this, but here’s my question…  What is the reason for Justin Ray telling the world this?

jrayellAm I suppose to go, “Holy sh–!  That’s amazing!”  I mean, what is the point?  This is a perfect example of meaningless information.  Ray’s stupidstic is about as interesting as this one:  “My mail is generally put in my mailbox face up, but this week on three occasions it was face down.  That’s only the third time that has happened since the Korean War.”  Or: “I rolled snake eyes followed by box cars.  That’s only the fourth time that has happened since the first moon landing.”  What’s funny is when Justin Ray tweets out these meaningless stupidstics, 25 or 30 golf reporters will retweet it.  A confederacy of dunces.

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26 Responses to Wednesday Thoughts

  1. Kris says:

    Justin Ray’s job is golf channel senior researcher and statistician. I think his “stupidstics” are bits of trivia he runs across and throws on twitter for fun. Sometimes it ends up on TV because someone at golf channel thought it was interesting. It’s not the most meaningful information ever, but I’m one of the dunces that likes useless trivia.

  2. Sports-realist2 says:

    Just think of the CRAZY stats you could come up with for the following words: Eldrick Woods, steroids, prostitutes, corruption, coverup, Steinberg, PGA………

    • lannyh says:

      Oh, yeah. Here’s one that would be relevant and historical: Woods’s Q Score plunge in popularity.

      If I had access to Justin Ray’s database information, I could come up with all manner of myth-busting articles. He could be doing for golf what Malcolm Gladwell and the two “Freakonomics” guys have done more broadly.

  3. HennyB says:

    Boy do we know the GC like the back of our hands or what? LOL. Did anyone happen to see the replaying of “Golfs Greatest Rounds” last night? You guesses it, the 2000 PGA Championship. Un-believable! They do this after every tournament Tiger does poorly in. They replay some round or tournament form years past to try and remind people how great he is and that the is still relevant. If I may quote the great Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World, “LIVE IN THE NOW!”

  4. HennyB says:

    I forgot to mention, the golf world really has it in for Jordan Spieth. They can’t stand the fact that he is the new young gun on tour setting all sorts of records as a teenager and now in his early twenties. There was an article out yesterday from Business Insider titled “Jordan Spieth Versus Tiger Woods, won’t even be close when it comes to tour earnings”. What a cheap shot. Its worth checking out.

    • lannyh says:

      I just read that article! In fact, it’s still open in my browser. Did you notice this line:

      “Spieth will almost certainly break Woods’ record for most earnings in a single season, $10.9 million set in 2007.”

      That’s Woods’s PERSONAL record, not the PGA Tour record. Vijay Singh earned more in 2004 than Woods in 2007.

      There was the implication, as I read it, that Woods holds the single-season record (why, of course, who else could it be…) when in fact it is Vijay.

      • HennyB says:

        I was always impressed that Hale Irwin was the first golfer in history (on any tour) to earn $2 million in a single season. That was back in 1997 and he didn’t on the Senior Tour where the purses are not nearly as big as the regular tour. Not to many people remember that. Definitely a milestone if you ask me.

      • TruthTeller says:

        The the thing to note about Vijay’s season is he played something like 10 more events but I believe the difference in earnings was less than $100,000.

      • lannyh says:

        Why? Why is that the thing to note? Money Leader is based on total money.

      • TruthTeller says:

        Well when a guy wins over 10 million playing 25 events, that’s pretty darn impressive. When a guy wins over 10 million playing something like 15 events, that kind of stands out.

    • Ken says:

      Didn’t that article point out that Spieth will surpass Woods’s earnings? I just glanced at it early this morning but I didn’t think that it was negative towards Spieth. Am I wrong?

  5. HennyB says:

    My apologies, I must correct myself. I misinterpreted the article to be a cheap shot at Jordan not be able to rake in the dough I regards to endorsements and appearance fees. Foot inserted into mouth.

    • lannyh says:

      Yeah, it was pro-Jordan pretty much. Two tipoffs: they didn’t say, “Of course Jordan is only getting this money because Woods personally increased prize money from $100 for a win to $1 billion for a win.” And, they didn’t factor in inflation.

      The media really has been anti-Jordan, though. I sense the tide is turning, but they have little choice. The Man in the Street is fascinated by Spieth’s great play. That said, I wrote about Jordan finishing one shot out of a playoff in February at the L.A. Open, and hardly getting any television time at all.

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        Point is, name the last 21/22 year old to win 2 majors with a chance of winning 3 in the same year………tick, tock, tick, tock…..

  6. Ken says:

    Before the British Open, there was also an article about how well his practice went there. I think it may have also said that he shot 32 there. And he played well in the Champions Challenge exhibition.

    Very meaningful.

  7. Sports-realist2 says:

    CBS using some remark by Gary Player to keep PROPPING up their falling star…(no I didn’t read it)….If I’m not mistaken, a while ago Player had also said that he believed steroids were being used on tour….Haven’t seen Mr. Blogger touch that one…Doubt he is allowed too….
    Ofcourse why not HAVE articles about his probably/possible STEROID USE????…Ofcourse we know why…….But it’s a funny thing, this freedom of the press….smh..

    • lannyh says:

      I saw the article. I’m doing my best to support it, having commented about five times. 🙂

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        Lanny you are falling for their trap…….Was Gary really saying what the title states?

      • lannyh says:

        Sure, but it wasn’t any big deal. Nothing controversial about it. It was like saying Rory is good for golf in Ireland.

    • Sports-realist2 says:

      Ofcourse it’s been a whole 2 days since St Andrews, and they couldn’t wait to move on, but you use some lame ‘race’ article is so bla, bla, and yada, yada……BUT this is the new CBS…..

      • Sports-realist2 says:

        Rigged stories is nothing new I suppose…..Like the joke says: Earth blows up, leaving no on alive–stock market rallies up 14 points….

      • lannyh says:

        I believe they would say literally anything if they thought they could up ratings/views and make an extra dollar. I don’t think they care what the fallout is. In fact, the more disastrous, the more viewers/readers they get.

  8. Bird says:

    ” He (TW) dumped his very first approach on his very first hole into the Swilcan Burn.”

    That was pathetic alright. The only shot on that hole I can deem more pathetic was Dunne’s final round approach, when he chunked it SHORT of the burn.

    Drumroll, rimshot.

    • lannyh says:

      I missed Dunne’s shot; I wound up very confused when they reported his score, because seeing the ball there, you assume he went in and dropped.

      Dunne is a good example of my point. I remember a LOT of Dunne’s shots, and can tell you how he led after three and blew up in round four. I’m hard-pressed to remember more than two or three things about him the entire week. Dunne was memorable; Woods was a complete non-factor, with nothing interesting at all. Had he not played, the tournament would have been no different.

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