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1996 NEW AMERICAN GRAND PRIX
FINAL RANKINGS:

MCBRIDE WINS GRAND PRIX IN RAW POINTS,
OSBORN IS "PLAYER OF THE YEAR" IN ADJUSTED SCORE

By Bob Alman

Designing a system for tracking the top players in American croquet includes not only taking into account the wins and places, but also the relative strength of the player fields in the events tracked. The 15 Grand Prix events were ranked and weighted to award more points to players placing in the strongest events, either American Rules or International Rules. The strongest American Rules events of 1996 were, in order: The USCA American Rules Nationals, the Arizona Open, the Palm Beach Invitational, and the San Francisco Open. The strongest International Rules Events were the Sonoma-Cutrer World Singles Championship and the U.S. Open.

The inaugural and experimental first year of CROQUET WORLD ONLINE MAGAZINE's New American Grand Prix was a horse-race until the American Rules Nationals in Palm Beach in October, where, as it happens, the final places were determined. The last Grand Prix event of the year, the U.S. Open in Palm Springs, was strong, but none of the leaders were contesting, so it turned out to be anti-climactic. If they had played, Mehas, Osborn, or Rodoni could have equalled or surpassed McBride's 300 raw points.

Canadian McBride, with a 1.0 handicap, turned in a stunning performance in three consecutive wins, proving he's one of the most consistent performers in the sport.. McBride's wins, however, were not in the strongest of the 15 Grand Prix events.

When the tournaments were weighted according to their player strenght, and when the adjusted point totals of each player were AVERAGED by dividing the number of events each player played into their total adjusted points, a slightly different picture emerges, placing Osborn at the top of a fairly considered ranking of top players.

Osborn won on the strength of his performance in three tournaments: the Palm Beach Invitational, the Mid-Atlantic Regionals, and the American Rules Nationals. He also won the very strong Delaware Invitational, which was not included in the Grand Prix of 1996, but has now earned a place in the 1997 edition.

HOW THE TOP PERFORMERS STACK UP

With different methods of computing, it's possible to rearrange the order of finish, but any way you figure it, the top consistent tournament performers on the American continent in 1996 were John Osborn, current National Champion Jim Hughes, Wayne Rodoni, Leo McBride, Mik Mehas, and retiring USCA president Bill Berne.

Mik Mehas played more Grand Prix events than anyone else, and in all six, he never finished lower than fourth. Mehas ended with the highest WEIGHTED point total - 642.

Bill Berne played five events without winning one, but twice placed second.

Wayne Rodoni looked like a sure thing early in the year, with his San Francisco Open win, second place in the Sonoma-Cutrer World's Championship, and third place in Arizona - all of them top weighted events. But Rodoni inexplicably folded in the nationals, garnering only a 13th-place finish, so he must lose the "Player of the Year" honors on AVERAGING, which accounts for consistent play. (Rodoni was the only one of the top six to fail to place in the top eight in all of their Grand Prix events.)

Late bloomer Jim Hughes placed second in the weighted and averaged scoring and could have won it all with a slightly better showing in the Mid Atlantic Regionals.

To fairly reward consistent play, it is necessary to require that Grand Prix winners play a minimum number of Grand Prix events to qualify for "Player of the Year" commendation. We have determined the minimum number to be three, which eliminates from consideration some of the best players in the country - such as Jerry Stark, Don Fornier, and John Taves. Thus, the New American Grand Prix cannot be considered a fair test for choosing "the best players" in America, but only a reasonable method of acknowledging the most consistent performers in the top tournaments of the year.

Somewhere around midyear, it became obvious that any system of evaluating top players would have to take into account the strength of the tournaments reported, as well as the consistency of the players' results in the tournaments they contest. Weighted according to the aggregate handicap of the top eight finishers, the table below shows how the events stacked up, in descending order of strength. The figure on the left is the total handicap for the top eight finishers in the tournament. Events with a score under 3.5 are weighted with TRIPLE POINTS; those scored at 4.0 through 9.5 are weighted with DOUBLE POINTS.

RANKING THE EVENTS IN THE 1996 GRAND PRIX

0 Sonoma-Cutrer World Singles Championship
0 USCA American Rules Nationals
2 Palm Beach Invitational
2 Arizona Open
3 San Francisco Open
3 U.S. Open
4 USCA Southwest Regionals
4.5 USCA Southern Regionals
5.5 USCA International Rules Nationals
8.5 USCA Mid-Atlantic Regionals
13.5 Canadian Open
16 USCA Midwest Regionals
17 USCA Northeast Regionals
N/A Chattooga Challenge (fewer than 8 top flight players)
N/A USCA Northwest Regionals (fewer than 8 top flight players)

In 1997, the Delaware Invitational, which has become a consistently top tournament, will become the 16th Grand Prix event. The 1997 New American Grand Prix will be scored only with WEIGHTED points and will incorporate all the other corrections discovered in the 1996 trial year. It begins with the Palm Beach Invitational in January.

THE GRAND PRIX PLAYER RANKINGS are updated after each event, based on reported results. Points are awarded on the following basis:
FIRST PLACE 100 points
SECOND 60 points
THIRD 40 points
FOURTH 30 points
FIFTH 25 points
SIXTH 20 points
SEVENTH 15 points
EIGHTH 10 points


GRAND PRIX FINAL RAW POINT STANDINGS, 1996
(before weighting and averaging)

>300 points Leo McBride
286 points Mik Mehas
235 points John Osborn
200 points Wayne Rodoni
193 points Bill Berne
173 points Jim Hughes
160 points Jerry Stark, Don Fornier, Jr.
125 points Archie Burchfield
115 points Robert Fuilford (England)
106 points Doug Grimsley
100 points Jim Hall, Aaron Westerby (New Zealand), Cameron Guernsey
88 points Nate Weimerskirch
80 points Phil Arnold
73 points Richard Powell
61 points Britt Ruby
60 points Ray Bell, Tony Hall (Australia), David Barr, Leon Parker, Mark Najarian, Rufus Bayard
53 points Rhys Thomas, Pat Roach
48 points Charlie Smith
46 points Rick Sheely
43 points Alan Wolman
41 points Rory Kelly
40 points Gar Bechstead, Wally Clark, Phil Fusz, Rob Currier, Paul Scott (England)
38 points Bob Kroeger
35 points Sal Esquivel, John Young, Debbie Prentis
33 points Jacques Fornier
30 points Fred Jones, John Taylor, Wayne Fisk, Ross Robinson, John Oerhle
28 points Ren Kraft
26 points Chuck Reif, Carl Hanson
25 points James Hawkins
23 points Bob Cherry, John Phaneuf, Byron Thomas, Dwight Mayer, Matt Baird, Steve Wain, Louis Nel, Stuart Lawrence, Dick Brackett, Rick Wilhoite, Stuart Brodsky, Erv Peterson
20 points Mike Westfall
18 points John Fournier, Audrey Wille, Dave Lewis, Gord Lunn
15 points Shane Davis (Australia), Tony Stephens (New Zealand), Bill Martin
13 points Phil Trowbridge, Mack Penwell, Joe Koenig, Phil Currier, Brian Cumming

TOP SIX 1996 "PLAYERS OF THE YEAR"
(after weighting and averaging)

  1. John Osborn - three events, 505 adjusted points
          168 averaged adjusted points

  2. Jim Hughes - three events, 493 adjusted points
          164 averaged adjusted points

  3. Wayne Rodoni - four events, 600 adjusted points
          150 averaged adjusted points

  4. Leo McBride - three events, 400 adjusted points
          133 averaged adjusted points

  5. Mik Mehas - six events, 642 adjusted points
          107 averaged adjusted points

  6. Bill Berne - five events, 389 adjusted points
          78 averaged adjusted points


TOP EIGHT FINISHERS
IN THE 15 GRAND PRIX EVENTS IN 1996

January 15 - 21

PALM BEACH INVITATIONAL
Palm Beach, Florida
1st - Johnny Osborn
2nd - Jim Hughes
3rd - Rhys Thomas
4th - Bill Berne
5th - Bob Cherry, John Phaneuf
7th - Phil Trowbridge, Chuck Reif
February 25 - March 3
ARIZONA OPEN
Phoenix Arizona
1st - Jerry Stark
2nd - Don Fournier, Jr.
3rd - Wayne Rodoni
4th - Doug Grimsley
5th - Charlie Smith
6th - Alan Wohlman
7th - Carl Hanson, Mack Penwell
April 17-21
USCA SOUTHWEST REGIONALS
Phoenix, Arizona:
1st - Mik Mehas
2nd - Ray Bell
3rd - Pat Roach
4th - Ren Kraft, Rory Kelly
6th - John Fournier, Britt Ruby
8th - Jacques Fournier
April 30 - May 4
USCA SOUTHERN REGIONALS
Wellington, Florida
1st - Jim Hall
2nd - Bill Berne
3rd - Gar Bechstead
4th - Fred Jones
5th - Byron Thomas, Dwight Mayer
6th - Chuck Reif, Richard Powell
May 8-11
SAN FRANCISCO OPEN
San Francisco, California:
1st - Wayne Rodoni
2nd - Tony Hall
3rd - Mik Mehas, Sal Esquivel
5th - Doug Grimsley, Charlie Smith
7th - Rhys Thomas, Carl Hanson
May 12-18
SONOMA-CUTRER WORLD CROQUET CHAMPIONSHIP
(International Rules)
Sonoma-Cutrer Winery, Windsor, California
1st - Aaron Westerby (New Zealand)
2nd - Wayne Rodoni
3rd - Phil Arnold
4th - MIk Mehas, Colin Pickering (Australia)
6th - Shane Davis (Australia), Robert Fulford (England), Tony Stephens (New Zealand)
June 19-22
USCA NORTHWEST REGIONALS
Grandview, Washington
1st - Cameron Guernsey
2nd - David Barr
3rd - Wally Clark
4th - John Taylor
5th - James Hawkins
6th - Mike Westfall
June 20-23
CANADIAN OPEN CROQUET CHAMPIONSHIPS
Toronto, Ontario
1st - Leo McBride
2nd - Mike Weimerskirch
3rd - John Young, Debbie Prentis
5th - Audry Wille, Dave Lewis, Bob Kroeger, Gord Lunn
June 26-29
USCA MIDWEST REGIONALS
Mayfield, Kentucky
1st - Archie Burchfield 2nd - Leon Parker
3rd - Phil Fusz
4th - Wayne Fisk
5th - Rick Sheely, Matt Baird
7th - Joe Koenig, Stuart Brodsky
July 24-28
USCA NEW ENGLAND REGIONALS
Newport, Rhode Island
1st - Leo McBride 2nd - Mark Najarian
3rd - Rob Currier
4th - Ross Robinson
5th - Steve Wain, Louis Nel
7th - Phil Currier, Brian Cumming
August 7-11
USCA MID-ATLANTIC REGIONALS
Wilmington, Delaware
1st John Osbord
2nd Rufus Bayard
3rd Doug Grimsley
4th John Oehrle
5th Stuart Lawrence, Dick Brackett
7th Tom Hughes, Jim Hughes
September 25-28
USCA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS (International Rules)
Mayfield, Kentucky
1st Leo McBride
2nd Mik Mehas
3rd Archie Burchfield, Bill Berne
5th Rick Wilhoite, Alan Wolman
7th Bill Martin
8th Stuart Brodsky
September 30 - October 6
CHATTOOGA CHALLENGE (American & International Rules)
Cashiers, North Carolina
1st Robert Fulford
2nd Bill Berne
3rd Paul Scott
4th Mik Mehas, Nate Weimerskirch
6th Bob Kroeger
October 20 - 26
USCA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS (American Rules)
Palm Beach, Florida
1st Jim Hall
2nd Richard Powell
3rd John Osborn, Mik Mehas
5th Bill Berne, Rick Sheely
7th Britt Ruby, Pat Roach
December 2-8
U.S. OPEN (International Rules)
Palm Springs, California
1st Don Fornier, Jr.
2nd Jerry Stark
3rd Phil Arnold
4th Britt Ruby
5th Jacques Fornier, Erv Peterson
7th Rory Kelly, Doug Grimley



 
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