Are Majors Overrated? Brooks vs Rory

The Tour Championship wrap up podcast got me thinking about this when the guys were discussing player of the year. DJ said that Brooks is obviously the best player in the world and should win player of the year without any discussion. I was kind of surprised by this because Rory has had a really good year and I expected at least some discussion about this. I went back and compiled the year for both players side by side. If anyone thinks of a number that isn’t in here I can add it in.

Rory Brooks
Wins: The Players CJ Cup
RBC Canadian Open PGA Championship
Tour Championship WGC Memphis
Top 5 8 9
Top 10 14 9
Top 25 16 13
TOUR SG:Total 2.551 (1st) 1.366 (9th)
Datagolf Raw SG Total 2.17 (1st) 1.58 (4th)
Datagolf True SG Total 2.60 (1st) 1.97 (8th)
Major Finishes
Masters T21 T2
PGA T8 1
US Open T9 2
Open Championship CUT T4

After looking at this today I think week in and week out Rory is the best player in the world right now and Brooks isn’t even that close. Throwing out the strokes gained stats and just looking at results, Brooks should probably win player of the year, but the difference is his major win. I don’t think the discussion is as obvious as the NLU guys made it seem and the perception of these two golfers right now seems to be shaped by their major finishes.

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Are Majors Overrated?


But in all seriousness, 5 players beat Brooks in all majors this year. More than 5 players beat Rory in the PGA alone (his best finish).


I ranted about this on Twitter a bit.

I don’t necessarily disagree that Brooks should have won it, but like you say, I’m surprised that there wasn’t much debate about it. Nobody really put up any fight.

If nothing else it proves the importance we give the majors, because without the major results, there isn’t any argument that Rory was a better player week in week out.

It’s also noticeable that while Rory had his most consistent year he had one of his poorest years in majors.

This kind of proves my point even more though. Those 4 tournaments define Brooks’s season and prove that he is the best. Rory has 70+ rounds that prove he is the best.


This stat kind of makes the point that the majors are a bit overrated, imo, at least within certain debates. Citing 4 events for a POTY debate is a terrible argument. If Brooks was markedly worse in the non-majors (think zero top 10s) would people still bring up this point and think Brooks is a slam-dunk winner? I don’t believe so. So by that logic we should be accounting for play in other events throughout the year.

That said, I completely think Brooks should win POTY. I just don’t know where you draw the line and say he shouldn’t. Maybe the same resume, minus the WGC win? Maybe outside the top 20 in the SG stats?

I think when it comes to POTY you have to throw out SG and just look at finishes. The PGA and his play in majors gives him the edge but it is close. Still I was shocked to not see Brooks at the top of the SG stats. He’s not even top 10 off the tee which is crazy.

Regarding the Strokes Gained stuff, I don’t there they have numbers for the US Open, Masters, or UK British Open. Considering his finishes in those events (and Rory’s on the other end) I don’t think it paints a complete picture. I’m not sure how many total starts Brooks had, but eliminating three of his best finishes from the dataset probably hurts his numbers a bit.

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For the PGA Tour SG stats this is true but somehow datagolf figured out a way to do it and has these events included. Granted, it’s not the same exact calculation but it’s at least counting them.

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Don’t you mean every golfer ever?

I hear your point for sure, I just thoroughly disagree with diminishing Rory’s choke-job at majors and not giving enough credit to Brooks for elevating his game at the, historically, most significant events.

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I think you’re right. Datagolf’s SG total use the majors since that is just based on results and not shotlink data. If you compare Rory and Brooks under True Strokes Gained you can see the majors as individual data points.

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You could but I also like using SG where you can because it’s another useful data point and finishes isn’t everything. Sort of like how Cy Young winners used to be judged largely off wins but then the advanced stats came around and now a 10 win Jacob deGrom can win.

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i think Brooks’ major record goes to show you how much is wrong with the majors right now.

i think they set up exactly for Brooks’ game. At some point, he’ll have to start winning regular events in order for me to feel like his major wins are validated.

Right now, Brooks just seems a little “icky” to me.

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There is something to this in my mind. I dont think Brooks needs to validate his majors but just because he is the best Major golfer in the world doesn’t mean he is the best outright golfer in the world.

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I don’t disagree with this, but Brooks’s game and Rory’s games are basically the same. They’re both big time bomb and gouge type guise.

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Set up for Brooks’, but not Rory’s? I agree with you here comparing Brooks v. “The Field”, but specifically in Brooks v. Rory, I’d argue it’s set up equally well for both of their games, except Brooks’ shows-up.

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For sure Brooks shows up at majors and Rory doesn’t (at least recently). I do think the way the US Open and the PGA are set up now there are really only a few guys who have a chance at winning, and Brooks is obviously one of those guys.

on course games are similar.

i think they prepare differently. if you weigh every tournament equally, Rory is miles better than Brooks.

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It would be interesting to go back to 2013 and redo the POTY discussion. The Big Cat wins without a major but 5 wins (2 WGCs included). Does it remain the same?

No one really dominated the majors though. Phil maybe had the best with a win and T2. Or Dufner with a win and a T4.

In a recent podcast (think it was the Commonground one) someone (Doak, I think) talked about Brooks’ approach to majors, and it was to recognise that the greens in majors are set up harder and faster. So the trick is to not get on the wrong side of the hole.

This matches my own observation that Brooks very rarely goes for pins in majors. If you watch him he tends to go for the centre of the green, or the centre side of the pin. It’s like he figured out that getting pars is better than risking bogey, and if you can sneak in 3 birdies a round you’re at 12 under by the end - enough to be in the hunt in most majors. And he also knows many people will crack under pressure when he’s able to keep calmer because he’s putting less stress on himself.

Rory, I will admit, has let the majors get in his head. He’s too smart to play golf under pressure. But he has always been an aggressive golfer. He goes for pins. And when he misses he misses big. This pays dividends in Tour stops but is troublesome in majors.

Brooks, by contrast is too conservative to score competitively at regular Tour events.

None of this means that he doesn’t deserve POTY. But I personally don’t view him as a supremely talented player over his peers. A cunning one? Yes. But not better.


I think you’re right on this. JT and Brooks had a season long bet for whoever had more hole outs. Brooks said it was a dumb bet for him and was quoted saying that he can’t remember the last time he holed out, which makes sense because he really doesn’t go for a lot of pins (at least as much as Rory or JT). Now, this is not the greatest metric, but still brings some merit to your theory.

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