Did Ernie Els get the wrong answer in pairing Abe Ancer v. Tiger Woods?

mulligan, 15 December 2019, Comments Off on Did Ernie Els get the wrong answer in pairing Abe Ancer v. Tiger Woods?
Categories: Uncategorized

The Golf Blog says: Ernie Els, the captain of the International team in the President’s Cup, utilized data analytics in determining how to pair his players against the US Team. A similar approach was used by the European team at the last Ryder Cup, which they won. For 3 days, Els’ strategy was working like a charm, with his team building a 4-point lead at one point, that was cut to 2 points by the end of Saturday.

With little margin for error in the Sunday singles matches against the more highly world ranked members of the U.S. team, Els made one decision that proved to be costly. Els sent out President Cup rookie Abe Ancer out first against Tiger Woods. Both players had the best records of their respective teams: Ancer 3-0-1 and Woods 2-0. Other than that, it’s hard to compare the two players. Ancer, a 28 year old, doesn’t have a single PGA Tour victory to his name, Tiger, of course, is tied for the most wins at 82. Ancer was a Cup rookie, Woods, the oldest Cup veteran on the team. Plus, Woods had the most singles victories all time at 6-2 (not counting his 4-1-2 Ryder Cup singles record).

But before the Cup, Ancer brashly said in November that he wanted to play Tiger in singles. Well, he got it, as Tiger said after the match. Ancer performed well but he was no match for Tiger Woods. Ancer never led the match and ultimately lost 3-2.

Was the pairing a mistake? Whatever the analytics said, it seems foolish to throw Ancer out first against Tiger Woods. Ancer was playing well enough that he probably could have defeated any of the other U.S. team players-or certainly would have a much higher probability than defeating Tiger. For example, what if Ancer went up against Kuchar or Fowler (who had not been playing terribly well before Sunday) in one of the last 2 pairings? Or Webb Simpson? You get the picture.

This is not analysis in hindsight. As soon as we heard the pairing, we didn’t like it for Ancer or the International team. Why put Ancer, who was playing the best for the International team, out against the opponent that he had the least chance of winning?? That’s playing the odds, or good old-fashioned analytics.

Just imagine: Els puts Ancer in the 4th last spot to be the final firewall for the International team: Ancer, Aussie Cameron Smith, Louis Ooshuizen, and Marc Leishman. The backloading of the stronger players (with the exception of Hideki Matsuyama) does make total sense with Els’ actual strategy. As things turned out, that would have put Ancer against Webb Simpson. And had Ancer won his singles match, the single match would have given the International team 15 points and taken away a point from the U.S. team, putting them at 15. All tied. The two teams share the Cup. Oh well.


You must be logged in to post a comment.

Leave a Reply:

Name *

Mail (hidden) *


Email: thegolfblog [@] gmail.com

Advertise Here