Flight Numbers: Barsby Was Better Than Himself At Worlds

A look at player and round ratings compared to past winners

gregg barsby
Gregg Barsby after tapping-in the final putt at 2018 Pro Worlds. Photo: Benn Wineka/UWDG

Gregg Barsby won the 2018 PDGA Professional World Championship, and he deserved it on merit as he scored lower than all of the other players. That is all great and good, but I am not writing this article to tell you that Barsby played better than everyone else this week. What I am writing to tell you is that Barsby rose to the occasion and played perhaps as well as he possibly could to win Pro Worlds.

Piece of evidence number one to support this claim: Barsby was rated lower than the median1 value for the top 10 finishers at Pro Worlds 2018. This is a rare feat because he is one of only three Worlds winners, including Nate Doss in 2005 and Eric McCabe in 2010, to be rated lower than the median of the top 10 finishing players. But that’s not all, Barsby’s rating was far lower in this regard than either Doss or McCabe.

The difference between top ten finishers’ median player rating and the winner player rating for all Pro Worlds since 1999. The positive values are in teal and the negative values are in red.

At the time of Worlds, Barsby was rated 1020, which is quite good. However, his rating is tied for the third lowest rating for a world champion since ratings have existed, and if we control for rating inflation — about a point per year — he would be the lowest-rated MPO world champion ever! This idea hits home even harder if you look at piece of evidence number two: Barsby’s average round rating was significantly higher than his player rating.

The average round rating minus the player rating for Pro Worlds winners since 2012. Gregg Barsby, the 2018 winner’s values are in red.

Barsby played almost 34 points over his rating for five rounds, which is unbelievable. Especially when you compare how he fared against the performances of those who won the past six world championships2, Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki, two of the best to ever play the game. They are both known as extremely “clutch”3 players, but they cannot hold a candle to Barsby’s performance.

The next question to ask is, can Barsby keep up his unprecedented bump in play? We don’t have to wait too long because the Delaware Disc Golf Challenge starts on Friday. Maybe we should more be focusing on, is the Worlds Hangover real?


  1. The median is the middle value. In this regard it is better than the mean because it is not as sensitive to extreme values.  

  2. There are no round ratings available for Pro Worlds before 2012. 

  3. I put clutch in quotes because there is a lot of controversy over the existence of clutch play in sports. 

  1. Aaron Howard
    Aaron Howard

    Aaron Howard is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Franklin & Marshall College. He loves to play disc golf and to think about things he loves quantitatively. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Instagram.

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