|Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship as one of 124 players ranked in the top 200. (US Presswire)|
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sometimes, it's all right there in the numbers.
But like the old saying goes, while the scorecard tells you how many, it doesn't explain how.
For giggles, if not a bit of illumination, the New World Order research department secured an interesting document this week that features some numbers and rankings that will surely generate conversation -- on both sides of the Pond -- about the PGA and European tours and their perceived relative strength.
It has been an argument point for some years now as the European corps has stormed to the top of the world rankings behind the likes of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, all past or present world No. 1s this season. The Yanks, meanwhile, have mostly scrambled about, and this week, longtime standard bearers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both are ranked outside the world top 10 for the first time in 1½ decades.
But is a tour best measured by the firepower at the top, or by overall depth and talent throughout the field? Is an army best measure by its generals, or its band of foot soldiers?
Let's split the difference, shall we?
With the official PGA Tour season having concluded last week at Disney, here's a rather eye-opening list of where many of the top events on the world's two richest tours ranked in 2011 with regard to the number of top 200 players in the field.
Let the transcontinental tour ragging begin anew -- but this time, everybody can fall back on actual facts to argue their points.
The tournaments below are listed in order based on the number of top 200 players who entered. For general ballast, the number of players ranked in the top 15 is also noted, though not used for ranking purposes. Being limited-field events typically topping out at 70-80 players, the star-laden World Golf Championships events deserve something of an asterisk, but they still rank high in the top 200 count, nonetheless.
A handful of short-field events, like the Volvo World Match Play on the European and Tour Championship on the U.S. circuit, are not on the list because their size works against them when using this particular measure. Also, the top 200 number should be taken with a grain of salt, especially with events like Phoenix and Colonial, which were light in impactful players at the top end of the scale.
Sure, there are some surprises. The Barclays, the FedEx Cup series opener, had one of the deepest fields in golf. Make all the wisecracks you want about the FedEx Cup points system, because everybody has, but the four tournaments themselves offer some stellar fields.
Another? The British Open, despite offering open access to thousands of pros and amateurs, ranked third.
Random observations: How stacked are the Florida events, huh? The five Sunshine State events conducted from March into May all ranked in the top 27 for top 200 talent. Also, who would have guessed that the Hilton Head event would assemble a field similar in impact to the Dubai Classic?
1. PGA Championship
Tour: Both. Top 200: 124. Top 15: 15.
2. Players Championship
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 114. Top 15: 13.
3. British Open
Tour: Both. Top 200: 113. Top 15: 15.
4. The Barclays
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 104. Top 15: 11.
5. Deutsche Bank
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 94. Top 15: 12.
6. U.S. Open
Tour: Both. Top 200: 91. Top 15: 14.
7. Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 85. Top 15: 7.
8. Memorial Tournament
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 84. Top 15: 8.
Tour: Both. Top 200: 82. Top 15: 15.
9. Northern Trust/L.A.
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 82. Top 15: 8.
11. Waste Management/Phoenix
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 77. Top 15: 2.
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 75. Top 15: 4.
13. WGC Bridgestone
Tour: Both. Top 200: 74. Top 15: 15.
13. Quail Hollow
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 74. Top 15: 8.
13. Honda Classic
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 74. Top 15: 7.
16. Barclays Scottish Open
Tour: Euro. Top 200: 71. Top 15: 5.
17. BMW PGA Champ
Tour: Euro. Top 200: 70. Top 15: 8.
17. Colonial Invitational
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 70. Top 15: 1.
19. BMW/FedEx Cup
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 69. Top 15: 11.
20. Dunhill Links
Tour: Euro. Top 200: 68. Top 15: 7.
21. AT&T National
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 67. Top 15: 1.
22. Dubai Classic
Tour: Euro. Top 200: 66. Top 15: 4.
22. Hilton Head
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 66. Top 15: 5.
22. Abu Dhabi
Tour: Euro. Top 200: 66. Top 15: 8.
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 65. Top 15: 2.
25. French Open
Tour: Euro. Top 200: 65. Top 15: 2.
27. WGC/Match Play
Tour: Both. Top 200: 64. Top 15: 15.
Tour: Both. Top 200: 64. Top 15: 14.
27. Travelers Championship
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 64. Top 15: 3.
30. Shell Houston Open
Tour: PGA. Top 200: 63. Top 15: 6.