Driving Drives Tiger’s Golf Wins

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I gave Eureqa (pronounced Eureka, but spelled with a Q&A) software a try. I decided to feed it Tiger Woods golf stats from 1997 to 2009 (with 2009 as a hold out). I wanted to see how the software worked to predict his wins, using the number of tournaments he entered, driving, fairways, greens and putts. I got the data from http://www.databasegolf.com/players/playerpage.htm?samid=WoodsTig01. I normalized and removed the 2004 outlier, which the software made REALLY EASY.

The conclusion of the analysis is that his wins can be pretty well predicted based on his driving stats. The prediction for 2009 is that he would win 4.3 tournaments. He won 6.

I could have made a better guess for 2009, the hold-out, by simply taking the average from 1997-2008 (5.25) or a ratio of tournaments entered to tournaments won (5.15) and gotten closer than the modeled answer. But, the model is trying to tell us “why he wins.” In that respect, the factor most often occurring in the models, and the key factor in the simpler models is Tiger Woods “driving.” Eureqa made getting to the answer really easy.
I like the software. it has much promise. The problem with the software is it will over-fit a dataset. The user needs to find the balance of simplicity and fit. Using a hold out is essential, and I wish the software made that easier to do. It would also be nice to delete multiple columns at a time, or multiple rows at a time to make organizing the data for analysis faster. I think the assumption is you will order your data in Excel, then cut and paste the table. But, I wanted to assemble the data from various excel spreadsheets, and that was doable, but not as efficient.

I tried Eureqa on this simple data set, then gave it some more complex data sets as well. I was impressed by the simplicity and power.

I highly encourage curious minds to download Eureqa and give it a try.

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