Can stats pick U.S. Open winner? If so . . .
Looking for a U.S. Open winner? If you consider the world ranking of the past 10 champions, the average is 31.2, or No. 31, and currently that name would be . . . Webb Simpson.
Not a bad choice, given that he not only has a U.S. Open victory to his credit but will be playing in his native North Carolina when the big stage is set up at Pinehurst No. 2. Simpson was ranked 14th when he won the national championship at The Olympic Club in 2012.
Of the past 10 U.S. Open winners, only four were ranked within the top 10:
- Justin Rose, fifth, in 2013;
- Rory McIlroy, eighth, in 2011;
- Tiger Woods, first, in 2008;
- Retief Goosen, ninth, in 2004.
Geoff Ogilvy was 50th when he won in 2006, and Lucas Glover was 71st in 2009. The highest-ranked player to win in the past 10 years: Michael Campbell (89th), when he triumphed at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005.
If that doesn't feel like quite the right ouija board, there might be another formula.
How about average world ranking for the past 13 major champions? That computes to 13.78, or rounded off to No 14, which gives the current nod to Dustin Johnson.
Of the past 10 major winners, blue-chip comes to mind, given that four of them were ranked in the top 10:
- Phil Mickelson, fifth, at the 2013 Open;
- Rose, fifth, at 2013 U.S. Open;
- Adam Scott, seventh in 2013 Masters;
- McIlroy, third at 2012 PGA.
Only Ernie Els (40th at 2012 Open) was ranked outside the top 25.