Tuesday 30 April 2013

Testimonial Page Added & Other Amendments to GP

Sample testimonial on the new GP page
In addition to the menu changes on Golf Predictor for better mobile device compatibility, the menu bar on the outside section (Home page etc.) of the site has undergone the following changes:
  1. 'Contact GP' has been renamed to 'Contact Us'. This looks slightly better now that there is also an 'Access GP' option on the same menu.
  2. The position of the 'Links' and 'Contact Us' links have been changed to better reflect their relative importance.
  3. A new 'Testimonials' option has been added. This shows a page with testimonials solicited from current Golf Predictor subscribers. In order to encourage some responses, I offered a small extension to their subscription period (although I'm sure they would have been provided anyway!). A sample testimonial is shown in the screenshot above. Note that the quotation marks are not displayed on some older browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer 7).
  4. The 'Terms & Conditions' and 'Privacy/Cookies' options have been moved from the main bar to the 'About' dropdown menu. This was done to accommodate the new 'Testimonials' option.
Other minor changes include the addition of a Google + button and a link to the new Testimonials page to the Home page. I'd like to thank all the subscribers who took the time to supply testimonials. I hope they inspire others to follow suit and subscribe to Golf Predictor, the premier US and European PGA Tour statistics site!

Golf Predictor Menus Slightly Amended

New 'Access GP' menu option on outside section of the site
The menus on Golf Predictor have been updated slightly for better mobile device compatibility. While it is not recommended to use a mobile device to view Golf Predictor (see below), it should be possible to at least view the numerical data on a mobile browser, should you so wish.

It was brought to my attention by a user that the Register/Log In options on right of the top menu bar on the outside section (home page etc) were not visible on his Android device. This would be also true of the Log Out link in the same position on the top menu bar in the member section. This would obviously be a big problem for mobile users if they can not even log in to the system!

Upon testing with my Nexus 7 tablet (running Jelly Bean 4.2.2), this behaviour was duplicated, but only under relatively high zoom levels. Reducing the zoom level resulted in the reappearance of the aforementioned menu options. This behaviour was also exhibited on my iPhone, although the problem occurred only under much higher zoom levels. Having to zoom in to read a page and zoom out to log in or out was not ideal by any means. To address this, I have added new options on the main page menus (member section and "outside" section)  to allow users to access these commands at any zoom level. These new options can be seen under the new "Access GP" menu in the screenshot of the outside section above. The new log out option has been added to the "My GP" menu in the member section.

I have left the existing menu options in place for all users who are accustomed to using them. Incidentally, I did try making the site responsive and although it worked fine on desktop browsers (including Chrome), it refused to work on Android Chrome. Therefore, I decided on this far simpler solution rather than another site redesign! Note that occasionally the top menu bar still does not behave as it should on Android, but this is now only a minor cosmetic annoyance.

Golf Predictor was developed as a desk top application before the proliferation of smart phones and tablets. This was also when Adobe Flash ruled supreme and before the emergence of HTML5/JavaScript. Therefore, the charting technology used in all the charts on Golf Predictor are rendered in Flash. Therefore, users browsing Golf Predictor with any device that does not support Flash will not be able to view any of the charts at this time. Replacing the charting technology to a more mobile friendly one is problematic for the following reasons:
  1. It would be a huge effort to replace the more than 320 flash charts on Golf Predictor. I simply do not have the time or the inclination for this task at the moment.
  2. There is a paucity of acceptable HTML5/JavaScript alternatives. Almost every option is either too expensive or simply does not look good enough.
I have done a lot of research into replacing the charts recently. The easiest solution would be to upgrade from the free version of FusionCharts currently in use (Flash rendering only) to their paid version (Flash and failing that, defaulting to HTML5/JavaScript). That would mean minimal changes to all the charting code and result in better looking charts. However, I have been quoted a prohibitively high price by the developer, so unfortunately that is not an option. I may put in browser detection (not 100% reliable) on some charting pages and show inferior looking free HTML5/JavaScript charts to mobile clients. In the meantime, it is recommended that you use a PC to get the most out of Golf Predictor.

Monday 29 April 2013

2013 - Week 18 Predictions/Statistics Online

The predictions for this week, the Wells Fargo Championship (US PGA Tour) and the Volvo China Open (European PGA Tour), are now available on Golf Predictor. No Tiger Woods at Quail Hollow this year, but at least Rory McIlroy and a few others in the world top twenty are turning up. As usual, the field is not as strong in China, where Branden Grace and Paul Lawrie are the only two top fifty golfers teeing it up.

Sunday 28 April 2013

2013 - Week 17 Winners

Brett Rumford (ranked 33rd by Golf Predictor) won the Ballantine's Championship on the European PGA Tour. The 35 year old Aussie ended his six year winless streak the hard way. After double bogeying the 17th and scrambling a par on the last, Rumford had to sweat it out while Peter Whiteford and Marcus Frasar tried to overtake him. However, when the duo could only finish on the same score, it came down to a play-off. After straightening out his driver on the practice range, Rumford prevailed at the first extra hole with an exquisite approach to about five feet to set up a winning eagle. Our top ranked player, Louis Oosthuizen, finished in 5th and we had six of the top eleven plus ties (6/16).
Billy Horschel (ranked 16th by Golf Predictor) won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on the US PGA Tour. The 26 year old American won his maiden tour title thanks to a brilliant closing round of 64 (-8) that included six straight birdies from the seventh. Despite that, he was pushed all the way by recent winner D.A. Points and Horschel had to sink a long birdie putt on the last to edg out his compatriot by one shot. Our top ranked player, Justin Rose, finished in tied 15th and we had seven of the top fifteen plus ties (7/20)* in total.

*With two higher ranked golfers not playing, Colsaerts makes the top twenty in our rankings.

Monday 22 April 2013

2013 - Week 17 Predictions/Statistics Online

The predictions and statistics for this week, the Ballantine's Championship (European PGA Tour) and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (US PGA Tour), are now available on Golf Predictor. Not many big names teeing it up this week either, as the wind down after The Masters continues. At least there are several major champions in both fields for the locals to cheer on!

2013 - Week 16 Winners

Raphael Jacquelin (ranked 11th by Golf Predictor) won the Open de Espana on the European PGA Tour. The 38 year old Frenchman won his fourth tour title in a record equalling marathon play-off. Jacquelin had to play the 18th hole ten times in total to finally defeat rookie Maximilian Kieffer at the ninth extra hole. The tough layout in Valencia combined with the weather to give the players a stern test of golf and make the tournament even more of a lottery than expected. Our top ranked player, Sergio Garcia, finished in tied 12th and we had only five of the top sixteen plus ties (5/20).

Graeme McDowell (ranked 25th by Golf Predictor) won the RBC Heritage on the US PGA Tour. The 33 year old Northern Irishman won his first title in three years after a play-off with Web Simpson at a windy Hilton Head. Our top ranked player, Luke Donald, finished in tied 3rd and we had four of the top nine plus ties (4/17)* in total.

The weather and the relatively weak fields (especially in Spain) made it a good week for the bookies!

*Hanson's withdrawal promotes De Jonge into the top seventeen in the rankings.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Results Tables Updated

New pop-up text for the Position column,shown for Tiger Woods' season results ahead of the 2013 Masters
The results tables found on the Prediction page, the Golfer page and the "Results by Player" pages on Golf Predictor have been slightly updated. As shown above in the snippet of the Prediction page for Tiger Woods (for the 2013 Masters), hovering over the Position column now displays a pop-up. This new pop-up shows whether the golfer tied for that position and has been added thanks to a good suggestion from a user. The other such tables on this page and the results tables on the other pages mentioned above have been updated in a similar manner*. Just another way to make Golf Predictor slightly better for my valued users!

*Even the wins table on the Golfer page, which didn't really need it as there's always a play-off!

Monday 15 April 2013

2013 - Week 16 Predictions/Statistics Online

The predictions and statistics for this week, the Open de Espana (European PGA Tour) and the RBC Heritage (US PGA Tour) are now available on Golf Predictor. After the excitement of The Masters, it's back to the grind for the ordinary pros this week! While most of the big names are resting after the exertions of Augusta, there are several of the world's top ten playing in South Carolina. However, the field in Spain is not quite so stellar; the two home favourites are among the few competitors from The Masters who are teeing it up.

2013 - Week 15 Winner

Adam Scott (ranked 4th by Golf Predictor) won the first major of the year, The Masters (European/US PGA Tour). The 32 year old Australian finally won the major his talent deserved with a play-off over Angel Cabrera. In becoming the first Masters champion from Australia, Scott exorcised the demons from his collapse at The Open last year. Scott probably thought he had won it with a closing birdie, but Cabrera hit an incredible shot under pressure to three feet to force the play-off. However, the Aussie wasn't to be denied and he prevailed at the second extra hole with another birdie. Our top ranked player, Tiger Woods, controversially survived a major disqualification scare to finish in tied 4th. Many thought the world number one should have been ejected from the tournament due to an improper drop on the fifteenth hole in round two. However, a relatively recent change in the rules was invoked to enable him to escape with a two shot penalty. Overall, we had eleven of the top twenty plus ties (11/24).

Monday 8 April 2013

2013 Masters Tips/Analysis

It's the first major of the season and probably the most anticipated one, given its position in the calendar and the mystique of Augusta. Because of that, I have decided to post my own analysis of the Golf Predictor statistics for the 2013 Masters on-line. I've grouped the combatants into several sections with a short rationale for picking each player.

Those most expected to win will usually be available at a prohibitively short price, given the number of top golfers in the field. No prizes for guessing that Tiger Woods with his three wins from six starts this season is top of this list and a hot favourite with the bookies. All of his wins this season have come on courses he has won multiple times on before and Augusta certainly fits that bill. However, some say his latest swing results in a shot shape that doesn't suit Augusta. In addition, his desperation to finally edge nearer to Jack's magic total of eighteen majors force him to try too hard. At about 4/1, he's way too short a price to back, even without those concerns. Recently disposed world number one Rory McIlroy showed a welcome return to form last weekend in San Antonio, so it's no surprise he's also expected to do well. If he can stay well clear of the log cabins, he may get to completely exorcise the ghost of his 2011 Masters meltdown. However, at about 8/1, it's not worth taking a punt on him. On the other hand, Justin Rose has some great statistics and is available at about 20/1.

Currently In-Form Golfers
They say golf is a game of confidence and that is certainly true of the professionals. Once they start to string a few good performances together, they tend to keep it going for a few months at least. However, as this is the first major of the year, recent form might not necessarily be as important as in a regular tour event. Nerves will be jangling and some may not handle the pressure cooker of The Masters too well. The golfers with the best form in their last five events this season are Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Keegan Bradley (in that order). Of course, Tiger has won his last two events and three of his last five, but poor (for him!) results in the other two means he hasn't been as consistent as the three golfers just mentioned.

Similar Tournaments Form Golfers
Since majors are the most prestigious and desired (and hence most pressurised) golf tournaments, this metric is particularly important for these four events. The golfers with the best form in their last twelve majors are Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker and Adam Scott (in that order). Stricker is the only one of those three to make the cut in all these events and Westwood did miss the cut in the last major. Also, Scott may not have gotten over choking at The Open last year. I know I haven't, as I backed/tipped him!

Same Course Form Golfers
Golfers tend to perform better on courses they like or courses they believe suit their game. Many do up their playing schedule based largely on this. Course form is very important at Augusta with its undulating fairways and famously treacherous greens, not to mention the history and tradition associated with it. The golfers with the best form on the hallowed turf in the last five years are Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood (in that order).

Similar Weather Form Golfers
It's promised windy for the first two days and there is also a good chance of rain on Thursday. In normal conditions (dry, warm and calm), weather isn't much of a factor. However, in  the wind, previous form in such conditions is important. The golfers with the best form in similar weather to that promised in the last five years (minimum five tournaments) are Luke Donald, Steve Stricker and Lee Westwood (in that order). Note however that the actual weather might be different from the promised weather! If it stays dry and the course firms up over the weekend, the extra run in the fairways would give the shorter hitters more of a chance.

Value Bets
Taking all the statistics to account, Steve Stricker (great putter, good in the wind), Sergio Garcia (very consistent this season), Ian Poulter (two top tens here in the last 3 years) are considerably undervalued. However, none have won a major yet (both Europeans were denied by Harrington, with poor Sergio suffering twice!) and Stricker is part-time this season and didn't play particularly well in his last tournament in Houston. Lee Westwood (despite featuring in this post several times!) and Matt Kuchar (3rd here last year) are also a little undervalued.

Overall 2013 Masters Tips
The golfers with the best balance of statistics and bookie odds are Justin Rose (20/1 with Paddy Power & others) and Lee Westwood (28/1 with Paddy Power & others). Longer shots worth a punt are Garcia (45/1 Stan James & others) and Stricker (66/1 with Bet365 & others). 

Well, that's my analysis of the 2013 Masters and my final list of tips. Of course you are free (and encouraged!) to log in to Golf Predictor to conduct your own analysis, using the myriad of statistics, charts, tables and comparison tools. However, note that you will have to subscribe to access all the features!

2013 - Week 15 Predictions/Statistics Online

The predictions and statistics for this week, The Masters (European/US PGA Tour), are now available on Golf Predictor. Only one tournament this week, but it's the big one! It's that time of the year again and excitement is mounting among golf fans ahead of the first major of the season at Augusta. With Tiger Woods seemingly with his mojo back and the good recent resurgence of Rory McIlroy in Texas, it promises to be an exciting week's golf. I, for one, will be glued to the TV this weekend in the hope that a European (preferably Irish!) golfer can land arguably the most prestigious jacket in sport!

Sunday 7 April 2013

2013 - Week 14 Winner

Martin Laird (ranked 40th by Golf Predictor) won the Valero Texas Open on the US PGA Tour. The 30 year old Scot overcame recent indifferent form to secure his first US PGA Tour title in two years. Laird finished in style, closing with a course record equalling 63 (-9) to win by two. The victory came with the added bonus of qualification for The Masters this week. Our top ranked player, Rory McIlroy, showed a welcome timely return to form by finishing in second and we had seven of the top fifteen plus ties (7/21) in total.

There was no event on the European PGA Tour this week.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Table on "Tournament Winners Form" Page Updated

New pop-up text for Tournament Winners Form page, now also showing the tournament won by the golfer
The table on "Tournament Winners Form" page has been slightly updated on Golf Predictor. I noticed during research for some tweets yesterday that I had neglected to include the name of the tournament that each golfer won in this table! That oversight has now been rectified by adding this information to the pop-up displayed on hovering over the golfer's first name. This is shown above, for D.A. Points, a very unlikely winner of the Shell Houston Open based on his recent form! The form synopsis that was already in the pop-up has also had a header prefixed to it. Just another way to make Golf Predictor slightly better!

Monday 1 April 2013

Results Tables Updated on Golfer Page

Snapshot of the new look table showing position colour coding, round columns and amended pop-up text for all of Rory McIlroy's results up to the 2013 Shell Houston Open
Further to the recently amended results tables on the Prediction page, the results tables on each Golfer page on Golf Predictor have been similarly updated. Using the new sortable round columns, you can easily find each golfer's best and worst rounds (rounds 1-4) for the following sets of tournaments:
  1. Any events that the golfer won
  2. Any events that the golfer finished in the top ten in.
  3. Any events that the golfer missed the cut in.
  4. Any events that the golfer played in.
This is shown above for all of Rory McIlroy's results up to the 2013 Shell Houston Open. As before, clicking on a round row column header allows you to sort the round scores in ascending or descending order.

To make room for the round information, the "Made Cut" or "Tournament Type" column has been removed from the relevant tables. The removed information has been moved into the pop-up text (see screenshot above) and also incorporated into the new colour coding for the finishing positions (missed cut). As before, round five has been left out of the results tables due to space constraints. There are currently no five round events on either tour and  there have been only two since 2003 (the 2003-11 Bob Hope and the 2003 Las Vegas Invitational), so this should not be an issue. In any event, round five information is now also provided in the pop-up (see screenshot above), should it be relevant.

As also shown in the screenshot above, the Position column on the results tables have been colour coded like before. This will allow you to identify wins (red), top tens (yellow), withdrawals (brown) and missed cuts (blue) much more easily. The colour code itself is shown over the first results table on the page.

These updates to the Golfer page make it much more useful. However, these results tables are only visible to subscribers, so sign up today to get the most out of Golf Predictor, the premier US and European PGA Tour statistics site.

2013 - Week 14 Predictions/Statistics Online

The predictions for this week, the Valero Texas Open (US PGA Tour), are now available on Golf Predictor. All eyes will be on Rory McIlroy this week after he belatedly added this event to his schedule. Let's hope he can find the form he's desperately searching for ahead of The Masters next week. There is no event on the European PGA Tour this week.

2013 - Week 13 Winners

Marcel Siem (ranked 3rd by Golf Predictor) won the Trophee Hassan II on the European PGA Tour. The 32 year old German won his third tour title with a wire to wire victory in Morocco, despite being briefly caught early on in the round. Siem needed a win to give himself a chance of qualifying for Augusta and he duly obliged, winning by three shots in the end. Unfortunately for the German, results in Houston didn't go his way and he narrowly failed to make the top fifty in the world rankings. Our top ranked player, Francesco Molinari, finished in tied 15th and we had eight of the top fifteen plus ties (8/23).

D.A. Points (ranked 115th by Golf Predictor) won the Shell Houston Open on the US PGA Tour. The 36 year old American overcame poor recent form to record the second win of his PGA Tour career. In the process, Points qualified for The Masters, as did Henrik Stenson who finished tied second. Our top ranked player, Rory McIlroy, finished in tied 45th, but we had eight of the top sixteen plus ties (8/19).