While it is clear that both the European and PGA Tours possess world class talent, most of us hold the belief that the US Tour has more depth and overall ability than it’s European counterpart. In this short post, we provide an answer to the question of how much stronger PGA Tour fields are (if they are at all) than those on the European Tour.
In order to compare the talent level on each Tour, we have decided to analyze the performance of a subset of players who are/have been active on both Tours. The requirement to be one of the players in our sample is to have played at least 40 rounds on each tour since 2010. In addition, rounds at events that are shared by both the European and PGA Tours (WGCs and Majors) are excluded. After filtering our sample with these requirements, 36 players (22 are predominately PGA Tour players, 14 are predominately Euro Tour players) were eligible to be analyzed.
The analysis is simple; we calculate each player’s average strokes-gained over the field on each Tour and plot them against each other. The figure below has the players’ European Tour relative scoring average on the x-axis, and PGA Tour relative scoring average on the y-axis (positive relative score indicates the player shot better than field average). The 45-degree line represents equality of a player’s performance on the two tours. Red dots indicate the player has played the majority of their events on the PGA Tour, while blue dots indicate the majority of events were played on the European Tour. To see more information on a specific player, hover over the data point.
Perhaps not surprisingly, all of our data points are located on or below the 45-degree line, indicating that players perform better against the fields on the European Tour than they do on the PGA Tour, presumably because the fields are weaker in Europe. On average, our sample of players performed 0.95 shots better relative to the field on the European Tour than on the PGA Tour, which accumulates to approximately 4 shots per event.