Brooks Koepka Deserved #1 in the World

If you take a look at the PGA Tour rankings from late October, you will notice a surprising golfer sitting at the top of the rankings. Brooks Koepka was the #1 golfer in the world according to the statistics that helped to create this list. At first, this was a huge surprise, but once you take a look at the numbers that helped to create this #1 ranking, it’s not unusual at all. Even though he doesn’t currently hold this ranking, it’s likely we will see him back at the top in the future.

He was the 23rd player to achieve the rank of #1 in the world since official rankings were first created back in 1986. Greats like Tiger Woods, Greg Norma, Ernie Els, and Vijay Singh have all held this prestigious honor in the past, but there are some surprising and unusual things to consider when looking at Koepka. For one, he hasn’t been on the Tour for long. He turned pro in 2012 but didn’t start competing with regularity until 2015. Additionally, he hasn’t been all that successful if you look at pure wins. He’s only won five tournaments total. Yes, when he wins, he does so in a convincing manner. But that doesn’t change the fact that he spends a lot of time standing in the shadows of those who win with more frequency.

One of the things that long-time golf fans will notice about Koepka is that he is consistent. Very rarely does he miss a cut, and very rarely is he no within a threatening distance of the top golfers. Even though he doesn’t win often, he is almost always in the picture.

Still, Koepka’s stay at #1 is likely to be short. Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, and Dustin Johnson are sitting at #2, #3, and #5, respectively, in the world rankings right now. All three of these golfers are known for having strong starts to their season. On a good day, any of these golfers can surpass Koepka. They have all held the #1 spot in the past, but Koepka’s journey to the top is different. He’s only won five tournaments, while Rose, Thomas, and Johnson had each won at least eight tournaments before earning the prestigious #1 ranking.

But just saying that Koepka only has five wins is missing something important. If you take a look at Koepka’s wins, you will see that three of the five came from Major Championships. He won the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Open, along with the 2018 PGA Championship. Although Koepka doesn’t always win, when he does, he does it in a convincing manner, and he does it on the biggest stage possible. Koepka set a record this past August with the lowest ever 72-hole score at the PGA Championship, with just 264 strokes. The previous record had stood since 2001. Not only does he win the ones that count the most, he does it in a way that turns heads.

What Does this Mean for Betting?

Because of Koepka’s style of golf, we should expect to see him fall down the rankings of the list over the next few months. That is, if he holds true to how he has performed in the past. He’s the type of golfer that focuses mainly on the biggest events, and the next Major isn’t until April 2019. Historically, this has not been a tournament that Koepka performs incredibly well at, but then again, he’s only been on the tour since 2015. He didn’t play there in 2018, finished 11th in 2017, 21st in 2016, and 33rd in 2015. His new focus may help to increase his performance in 2019, but you can be assured that he has his sights set on something further down the road.

Additionally, that means that when the Majors come around again, we shouldn’t be surprised when he makes another push for #1 in the world. Koepka is very capable of beating the best in the world now, and as it gets closer to the Masters, we should see improvements in his form. That could mean that we can place bets on the best at the world, for a return that doesn’t reflect that level of expertise. If you can find returns of +1200 or better for Koepka in any Major, you are suddenly getting a huge deal on him.

Another interesting interpretation of Koepka’s achievement is that he made #1 at the very end of the season. When past #1s Rory McIlroy and Johnson held this honor, they did it very early in the season. In other words, there was far less data in the books when McIlroy and Johnson made #1 than when Koepka did. This could be an indicator of a greater degree of long-term success in Koepka, and count as evidence that he will hold his position for the foreseeable future. Without more golf to watch and time to interpret it, it’s hard to know for certain just how good Koepka is, or how good he will get.

But, come June, July, and August of 2019, the Koepka that we know now as #1 in the world has a very strong chance of reemerging. Whether or not he will regain his status as #1 at this point is uncertain; golf is far too complex of a game to know anything with that much certainty that far ahead of time. However, if history repeats itself and Koepka holds true to his pattern, we should expect to see him once again be giving the top ranked golfers in the world a very serious run for their money. He is more than capable of doing so, and the right value bets have potential for huge payouts as a result of this.