With the first big tournament of the season this weekend, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the current rankings and past results to see if we could make some guesses about who will win the Las Vegas Challenge.

Admittedly, I’m not hugely familiar with how these types of analyses are done for something like ball golf and I don’t have access to a big sophisticated dataset. If possible, it would be nice to include things like who putts better in the wind, distance v. technical courses, injuries, etc etc. But that’s beyond me right now.

Additionally, my day job is to do analysis with ecological data and not really make “predictions”. BUT! All those excuses aside, I figured we could do a little poking around nonetheless.

I operated under a few plain assumptions to determine who I think will win:

  • Top players (highest PDGA ratings) will perform well
  • Players who have played well at the LVC before will do well
  • A player’s performance at the LVC in a recent year is more valuable than an earlier year

Here’s who I think will win ranked in order for both the MPO and the FPO. First is a scrollable table of the rankings I generated and second is a plot that shows you who has over- or under-perform based on their player rating compared to previous LVC finishes. That is, players who “overperform” are those who play better at the LVC than they “should” compared to their PDGA rating. (Granted, there’s only 4 tournaments in the dataset)

Below the tables and figures you can see a description of how I generated my results.

MPO

PDGA # Name 2020 Ratings Rank Mean LVC Place Weighted LVC Place Times Played LVC Performance Weight Weighted Score Predicted Finish
37817 Mcmahon 3 2.0 1.8 3 -1.2 9.7 1
38008 Wysocki 1 3.8 4.3 4 3.3 10.6 2
45971 Heimburg 2 5.5 6.1 2 4.1 15.3 3
27523 Mcbeth 1 6.3 7.7 3 6.7 16.3 4
18824 Sexton 4 6.2 5.7 4 1.7 16.4 5
24341 Leiviska 8 9.2 9.4 4 1.4 26.8 6
41760 Jones 8 6.7 6.3 3 -1.7 27.7 7
26416 Brathwaite 10 16.8 14.9 4 4.9 46.8 8
38464 Withers 5 22.0 19.5 4 14.5 49.0 9
48346 Gibson 8 20.3 17.7 3 9.7 55.3 10
63765 Presnell 11 14.0 13.2 2 2.2 57.4 11
13864 Gurthie 7 21.3 17.7 3 10.7 60.3 12
44382 Barela 18 21.0 19.2 3 1.2 64.3 13
50401 Clemons 12 22.3 23.1 3 11.1 65.2 14
57493 Rothlisberger 24 23.0 23.0 1 -1.0 67.0 15
17295 Conrad 11 25.3 29.0 3 18.0 70.0 16
68835 Hannum 17 27.0 22.1 3 5.1 70.2 17
53332 Barham 21 20.0 21.2 3 0.2 71.3 18
47472 Keith 16 18.3 18.9 3 2.9 71.8 19
66362 Russell 19 27.8 24.4 4 5.4 76.8 20
99053 Tanner 38 4.0 4.0 1 -34.0 77.0 21
53565 Oakley 17 20.8 16.4 4 -0.6 79.8 22
27171 Ulibarri 15 28.7 35.8 3 20.8 86.7 23
49431 Castro 25 28.0 28.7 2 3.7 87.4 24
121715 Aderhold 24 13.0 13.0 1 -11.0 91.0 25
54049 Turner 23 24.5 30.0 2 7.0 91.0 25
26269 Skellenger 29 29.0 29.0 1 0.0 98.0 26
33705 Koling 13 37.0 43.3 3 30.3 102.7 27
59419 Samson 41 14.0 14.0 1 -27.0 114.0 28
56555 Meintsma 22 38.0 36.4 3 14.4 116.9 29
58814 Messerschmidt 24 30.3 34.6 3 10.6 118.1 30
35876 Montgomery 21 39.3 35.2 3 14.2 118.4 31
57425 Elmore 27 40.3 38.6 3 11.6 119.1 32
65737 Perkins 30 35.5 42.5 4 12.5 121.0 33
85850 Gilbert 21 29.7 28.8 3 7.8 124.6 34
36777 iv 41 33.0 33.0 1 -8.0 126.0 35
68286 Queen 15 39.0 39.0 1 24.0 129.0 36
45879 Earhart 26 45.0 45.0 1 19.0 130.0 37
15857 Barsby 18 49.0 57.0 2 39.0 132.0 38
41918 Shotwell 34 50.3 42.1 3 8.1 136.2 39
50312 Johnson 35 46.0 47.5 4 12.5 141.0 40
57365 Hammes 7 57.0 57.0 1 50.0 144.0 41
51740 Spradlin 41 23.0 23.0 1 -18.0 149.0 42
81039 Polidori 36 48.0 48.0 1 12.0 151.0 43
91498 Keseloff 41 45.5 48.0 2 7.0 161.0 44
85457 Gilbert 35 39.0 39.0 1 4.0 165.0 45
48950 Bell 22 75.0 63.3 3 41.3 168.7 46
80636 Lyon 37 37.3 33.1 3 -3.9 170.2 47
74719 Pinegar 31 59.3 52.6 3 21.6 171.1 48
72423 Hoop 17 58.0 55.3 2 38.3 172.6 49
81739 White 26 65.0 62.1 2 36.1 182.3 50
49519 Beckner 41 55.5 53.4 4 12.4 198.8 51
56485 Herr 41 52.0 52.0 1 11.0 203.0 52
41220 Metzler 39 61.0 61.0 1 22.0 203.0 52
43762 Hebenheimer 41 56.0 56.0 1 15.0 205.0 53
96832 Guthrie 41 56.0 56.0 1 15.0 207.0 54
56486 Herr 34 82.5 80.4 2 46.4 213.9 55
49865 Meyer 41 48.0 48.0 1 7.0 216.0 56
28091 Berger 41 74.5 78.0 2 37.0 218.0 57
88497 Martin 28 70.5 71.0 2 43.0 226.0 58
43369 Bates 41 72.0 72.0 1 31.0 228.0 59
19453 Kapalko 41 84.0 70.6 3 29.6 229.1 60
46190 Sullivan 41 68.0 70.8 3 29.8 237.7 61
49649 Smith 41 76.0 76.0 1 35.0 239.0 62
89816 Cookson 41 64.0 64.0 1 23.0 246.0 63
45478 Bilodeau 19 90.5 87.8 2 68.8 250.5 64
36806 Callahan 41 90.0 90.0 1 49.0 252.0 65
68103 Stoll 41 68.0 68.6 2 27.6 254.1 66
37909 Russell 41 79.7 82.2 3 41.2 254.3 67
29812 Dryden 41 83.0 83.0 1 42.0 261.0 68
52776 Laputka 41 80.5 88.8 2 47.8 263.5 69
62910 Miller 41 78.2 73.1 4 32.1 264.2 70
34964 Whalen 41 68.0 68.0 1 27.0 265.0 71
49514 Castillo 41 81.0 81.0 1 40.0 265.0 71
109666 Caplin 41 81.0 81.0 1 40.0 270.0 72
78421 Saggboy 41 77.0 77.0 1 36.0 271.0 73
79978 McDaniel 41 90.0 90.0 1 49.0 273.0 74
77246 Lucerne 41 79.5 80.2 2 39.2 274.4 75
96436 Johnson 41 85.0 85.0 1 44.0 281.0 76
127314 Schram 41 81.0 81.0 1 40.0 307.0 77
61067 Sutherland 41 82.5 87.3 2 46.3 313.7 78
69796 Vassari 41 111.0 111.0 1 70.0 366.0 79
73363 Derochie 41 132.0 132.0 1 91.0 389.0 80
75420 Malone 41 149.0 149.0 1 108.0 446.0 81

Notes: Darkness of point represents how many times the player has played the LVC (lightest is 2 times, darkest is 4 times). Only the top 20 shown.

In the plot, players to the left of the dashed line have performed better in past LVCs than expected based on their player rating. Those to the right, have performed worse. Keep in mind the higher ranked a player is, the harder it will be for them to “outperform” their rating - for example since Ricky Wysocki is ranked #1, he would have to have won every LVC to break even.

So it looks like according to the weighted score Eagle McMahon is favored to win. Kevin Jones typically performs a little better at the LVC than other tournaments and comes off his big win at the end of last season.

However, I think given the amount of data here, it’s pretty reasonable to expect anyone in the top ~10 to win and even then someone lower ranked could have a really breakout performance. For example, if the over/under chart had included 30 players, Tristan Tanner would be a huge outlier with a LVC Weighted Score of -34 due to his big performance and 4th place finish last year.

FPO

PDGA # Name 2020 Ratings Rank Mean LVC Place Weighted LVC Place Times Played LVC Performance Weight Weighted Score Predicted Finish
44184 Allen 4 1.8 1.6 4 -2.4 6.2 1
29190 Pierce 1 3.0 4.0 3 3.0 10.0 2
34563 Hokom 2 4.3 4.8 3 2.8 13.7 3
15354 Allen 6 3.7 3.8 3 -2.2 17.7 4
50656 Weese 7 6.0 5.7 4 -1.3 19.4 5
81351 King 4 6.0 6.0 1 2.0 21.0 6
32654 Fajkus 13 9.5 10.4 2 -2.6 29.8 7
48976 Scoggins 5 13.0 13.0 1 8.0 31.0 8
59431 Walker 13 9.2 9.3 4 -3.7 32.6 9
64751 McMorran 16 7.5 7.1 2 -8.9 33.3 10
51229 Bradley 10 12.0 12.0 1 2.0 36.0 11
58303 Ananda 17 10.5 11.0 2 -6.0 40.0 12
39504 Andyke 11 14.5 14.8 2 3.8 44.5 13
32917 Cox 17 14.5 13.9 4 -3.1 47.8 14
34751 Bailey 14 13.5 14.8 2 0.8 51.5 15
27832 Panis 17 15.2 14.4 4 -2.6 58.8 16
60798 Tomaino 20 17.0 17.0 1 -3.0 62.0 17
71262 Stinchcomb 18 16.3 15.1 3 -2.9 63.3 18
104030 Allocco 26 18.0 18.0 1 -8.0 73.0 19
84007 Maes 26 19.0 19.0 1 -7.0 94.0 20
63005 Bilodeau 26 27.0 27.0 1 1.0 96.0 21
56987 Richardson 26 30.0 30.0 1 4.0 108.0 22