By Mike Stachura
Statistics are a little like fireworks. Fun to look at, but dangerous to play with.
We offer that as a warning before you read the following:
Based on our exclusive statistical analysis, the winner of this week's U.S. Open will be Boo Weekley.
Weekley, the PGA Tour's version of Larry the Cable Guy
, was the winner at Colonial last month, has four top 10s this year and is regarded as one of the premier shotmakers in the game today, ranking in the top 10 in greens in regulation.
Wonderful qualifications for a contender heading into a shorter U.S. Open venue like Merion where iron play likely will be much more important than, say, long-distance driving. In fact, the last 15 U.S. Open winners ranked an average of 7th in the field in greens in regulation. And furthermore, the last man to win a U.S. Open at Merion, David Graham in 1981, hit all 18 greens in the final round of his victory.
Almost none of that, however, is the basis for our statistical prediction that the self-described redneck from Milton, Fla., will be holding the trophy presented to the winner of our national champion this week. No, it's a little more complicated than that. Or convoluted. Or contrived. But the headline's good so we're sticking with our pick.
Here's how we got to Boo.
First, we looked at four key statistical categories: driving distance, driving accuracy, greens in regulation and strokes gained putting. Our belief is that if you are good in those areas you're a good pick to play well in any golf tournament, but especially the U.S. Open. Specifically, we looked at where the last five U.S. Open winners ranked on the PGA Tour in those categories heading into the U.S. Open (our numbers were based on the statistical rankings after the Memorial Tournament).
For example, heading into the U.S. Open last year, Webb Simpson ranked 100th in driving distance, 129th in driving accuracy, 21st in greens in regulation and 21st in strokes gained putting.
Then, we took each U.S. Open champion's average rank across those four statistical categories to come up with an aggregate or Super Rank (or what Boo's camo hip waders smell like after a long, dark night of frog-gigging). Webb Simpson's Super Rank prior to the 2012 U.S. Open was 68. Rory McIlroy's in 2011 was 61; Graeme McDowell's in 2010 was 81; Lucas Glover's in 2009 was 47; and Tiger Woods in 2008 was 54.
Next, we took the average of those five Super Ranks to find the prototypical Super Rank for U.S. Open champions. That number was 62.
So, by the theory of transcendental transpositional logic, the winner of this year's U.S. Open would be the player whose average current Super Rank was 62.
That player is Boo Weekley, who after Memorial this year ranked 59th in driving distance, 17th in driving accuracy, fourth in greens in regulation and 168th in strokes gained putting.
That's right. You heard it here first. Super. Rank.
(photo by Getty Images)