It's getting near Masters Time. And that means it's time to look at some numbers from the Tour this year.
My self-assigned Sunday late night project was to look at the most frequently discussed statistics on the PGA TOUR and attempt to decipher the keys to winning. My approach, (and maybe somewhat flawed approach), was to look at the top 25 ranked players in each category and then see how many of those had victories on the Tour this year. With eleven events in the record books through Sunday, March 10th and ten different total winners, I'm trying to see what, if any, common threads may run among the victors.
So, what stats to use? My thinking was to use the following: Driving Distance (Measured), Total Driving, Ball Striking, Greens in Regulation, Scrambling, Total Putting, Putting Average and Strokes Gained--Putting.
Before I begin, let me state up front that I fully recognize that a player can "click" one week and get everything is working. He drives the ball long and in the fairway, he hits irons stiff, he saves par and he putts out of his mind. It happens and then his stats for that weekend might catapult him into the top 25 in a few categories for a while. Obviously, the deeper into the season we get, the less effect one tournament will have on the numbers. So we should go back and look at the individual statistical performances of winners each week at pgatour.com.
For review, here are the 2013 winners:
Dustin Johnson: Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Russell Henley: Sony Open in Hawaii
Brian Gay: Humana Challenge in partnership with Clinton Foundation
Tiger Woods: Farmers Insurance Open and WGC-Cadillac Championship
Phil Mickelson: Waste Management Phoenix Open
Brandt Snedker: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
John Merrick: Northern Trust Open
Matt Kuchar: WGC-- Accenture Match Play Championship
Michael Thompson: Honda Classic
Scott Brown: Puerto Rican Open:
Here is what I came up with in each statistical category. For some further explanations of how each category is computed, go to Golf Stats 101 and Golf Stats 102.
Driving Distance (Measured): of the top 25, only Tiger Woods (rank 18th) has won this year.
Total Driving: of the top 25, none have won this year. Russell Henley (rank 27th) and Tiger Woods (rank 32nd) were the only winners ranked in the top 50 in this category.
Ball Striking: of the top 25, only Brandt Snedeker (rank 20th) has won this year.
Greens in Regulation: of the top 25, only Brandt Snedeker (ranked 1st) has won this year.
Scrambling: Of the top 25, Brandt Snedeker (rank 1st), Matt Kuchar (rank 14th) and Brian Gay (rank 25th) have won this year.
Total Putting: of the top 25, Russell Henley (rank 1st), Brian Gay (rank 4th) and Tiger Woods (rank 5th) have won this year. Obviously Woods got a huge boost from his 100 putt performance this past week at the WGC-Cadillac.
Putting Average: of the top 25, Tiger Woods (rank 2nd), Brian Gay (rank 6th), Russell Henley (rank 7th), Phil Mickelson (rank 8th), Brandt Snedeker (rank 11th) and Matt Kuchar (rank 15th) have won this year.
Strokes Gained--Putting: of the top 25, Tiger Woods (rank 7th), Brandt Snedeker (rank 12th), Russell Henley (rank 13th) and Phil Mickelson (rank 24th) have won this year. Brian Gay was just outside the top 25 at 26th.
Note: For some eye-blinking numbers on Tiger's putting performance this past week as assembled by pgatour.com, go here.
While it is early in the season, these numbers support the old saying "Drive for show and putt for dough." We will take another look at these numbers after the U.S. Open.
Thanks for reading.