There’s been lots of controversy lately over whether a Tiger Woods Intimidation Factor does in fact exist. Hank Haney insists it doesn’t. Others say that they see it. Everyone has an example. But examples are subjective.
What do statistics tell us? Two different statistical studies have shown that there is, in fact, a Tiger Woods Factor. Here are the study abstracts:
Dominance, Intimidation, and ‘Choking’ on the PGA Tour shows that players paired with Woods from 1998 – 2001 scored 0.462 strokes per round worse than normal.
Quitters Never Win: The (Adverse) Incentive Effects of Competing with Superstars found that payers are 0.2 strokes per round worse when Tiger Woods participates relative to when Woods is absence. Further “There is no evidence that reduced performance is attributable to media attention intensity or risky strategy adoption.”
The question is how much a .8 or a 1.2 strokes per round difference makes. Another study shows that when Tiger wins, he does so by scoring 0.71 strokes per round less than other winning players:
When Tiger wins, the mean of his neutral winning scores is 0.71 strokes lower than that o fother winning players, a difference that is statistically significant at the 0.001 level. This can be interpreted two ways. First, Tiger might simply play better when he wins compared with others who win. Alternatively, or perhaps in addition to playing better when winning, Tiger may choose to play in tournaments that are more diffcult to win in terms of their strength and depth of fields