In my introductory blog entry, I wrote about several different statistical categories. Today, I'll break down two of those categories in further detail and share some thoughts on why some of these numbers seem out of synch. The numbers discussed today come from data as of September 9th.
Recall that I discussed the statistical category of Putting from Inside 5 Feet. The PGA Tour explains this as: "for all holes where putting distance was determined with a laser, the percent of putts made when the ball is less than or equal to 5 feet from the hole. In order to be ranked a minimum of ten attempts must be made." Number 1 on the tour is Jim Furyk at 98.52% (made 798 from 810 attempts). Prior to the conclusion of the Deutsche Bank Championship, Furyk ranked 4th in that category---he moved to number 1 after that event. (FYI: Sergio Garcia was number 1 and he dropped to number 2 after same event).
So, five footers are no problem for Furyk, right? Glad you asked. Let me point out that I am no Jim Furyk basher. I love the way he grinds, his work ethic and what he brings to the game. My discussion here is about stats and how to view them.
You see, the PGA TOUR keeps an abundance of statistical data. Data that I'm sure most golf enthusiasts don't care about. But you aren't like most golf enthusiasts and that's why you come to Puttingforbirdie.
Another one of those categories is called GIR Putting--Inside 5 Feet.The PGA Tour explains it as: "for those holes where putting distance was determined with a laser and the green was hit in regulation, the percentage of putts made from less than 5 feet from the hole. In order to be ranked, a minimum of ten attempts must be made."
So, how does Furyk do in this category? Well, if you ask me, he is still pretty solid at 90.63% (29 made from 32 attempts). But at 90.63%, Furyk is tied for 25th on the tour in this category. What explains the drop from 98.52% to 90.63%? From number 1 to number 25?
Think about it this way: if he is on the green in regulation, then it most likely means that Furyk's putt from inside five feet is either for eagle, birdie or par.This stands to reason because Furyk is 4th in another category, 3 Putt Avoidance, where he has only 3-putted on 24 of 1,368 holes played. So, on putts inside of 5 feet where he has reached the green in regulation, Furyk has missed only three times. But, let's express that another way: Since he has missed only twelve times overall (798 made from 810 attempts) from inside 5 feet, it means that 25% of those misses (3 out 12) have come when he was on the green in regulation. Now, do I know if this is some sort of statistical anomaly compared to the rest of the tour? No, I do not. Do I know if the pressure of an eagle, birdie or must make par putt got to Furyk? Nope. I merely point this out as a way to view numbers. So, the next time you sit down and hear Jim Nantz tell you that Jim Furyk is 98% inside 5 feet you'll know how to interpret that stat a little better. You can shout back at the television and ask Nantz if Furyk was on the green in regulation for this putt right now. Because now you know better!!!
By the way, because I know that you want to know, the leaders for GIR Putting-Inside 5 Feet are Sang-Moon Bae (25 for 25)and Luke Donald (21 for 21). That's right, 100% on putts inside 5 feet when on the green in regulation. Can anybody in your foursome make that claim?
In our introductory blog, we mentioned that Brandt Snedeker was number 1 on the tour in one putt percentage. Brandt one putts 44.44% of the holes he plays. And I love watching him putt because he doesn't take forever to putt like Keegan Bradley does. No, Sneds just lines it up and goes at it. No backing off, no second guessing himself. A very confident putter.
So,the question then is why doesn't Brandt win more often? His career record breaks down like this: In 165 events played he has three career victories, three second place finishes, five third place finishes, thirty-four top ten finishes, and sixty top 25 finishes. And he's banked over 14 million in career earnings.
Let's look at some other stats from Brandt this year and keep in mind that he was out with injury for part of the year.
Driving Distance: ranks tied for 113th (280.2 yards). Driving Distance is defined as "average number of yards per measured drive. These drives are measured on two holes per round. Care is taken to select two holes which face in opposite directions to counteract the effect of wind. Drives are measured to the point at which they come to rest regardless of whether they are in the fairway or not.
GIR Percentage: ranks 117th (hits 63.44 percent of greens in regulation). GIR percentage is defined as "the percent of time a player was able to hit the green in regulation (greens hit in regulation/holes played). Note: A green is considered hit in regulation if any portion of the ball is touching the putting surface after the GIR stroke has been taken. (The GIR stroke is determined by subtracting 2 from par (1st stroke on a par 3, 2nd on a par 4, 3rd on a par 5)."
Proximity to Hole: ranks tied 71st (35 feet 7 inches from hole on approach shot) which is defined as "average distance the ball comes to rest from the hole (in feet) after the player's approach shot. The approach shot distance must be determined by a laser, and the shot must not originate from on or around the green. The shot also must end on or around the green or in the hole. Note: 'Around the green' indicates the ball is within 30 yards of the edge of the green. Snedeker dropped nine places in this category from the previous week.
Fairway Proximity: ranks tied for 125th (32 feet 6 inches). Fairway proximity is defined as "average distance remaining to the hole for all approach shots hit from the fairway (or the tee box on a par 3). The approach shot distance must be determined by a laser, and the shot must not originate from on or around the green. The shot also must end on or around the green or in the hole. Note: 'Around the green' indicates the ball is within 30 yards of the edge of the green."
Approaches from 125-150 yards: ranks tied for 82d place (23 feet 1inch). Category is defined as "average distance the ball comes to rest from the hole (in feet) when a player's approach is hit from a distance greater than or equal to 125 yards and less than 150 yards. The approach shot distance must be determined by a laser, and it must originate from the fairway (or the tee box on a par 3). The approach must also end on or around the green or in the hole. Note: 'Around the green' indicates the ball is within 30 yards of the edge of the green."
Scrambling: ranked 12th (62.01%) Scrambling is defined as "percent of time a player misses the green in regulation, but still makes par or better." Snedeker moved up three places in this category from the previous week.
3-Putt Avoidance: ranked 33rd (2.40%). Defined as "percent of time 3 or more putts were taken for a hole (total 3-putts, 4-putts, etc./ total holes played)." I honestly thought Sendeker would have been top five in this category.
Strokes Gained in Putting: ranked 1st on tour. Average is .809. Maybe one of the most difficult statistical categories to wrap your head around. This is where Brandt truly shines in addition to his one putt percentage. Strokes gained in putting is defined as "number of putts a player takes from a specific distance is measured against a statistical baseline to determine the player's strokes gained or lost on a hole. The sum of the values for all holes played in a round minus the field average strokes gained/lost for the round is the player's Strokes gained/lost for that round. The sum of strokes gained for each round are divided by total rounds played. The Strokes Gained - Putting concept is a by-product of the PGA TOUR's ShotLink Academic program, which encourages members of the academic community to perform research against the wealth of ShotLink statistical data. Professor Mark Broadie from Columbia Business School developed the early concept which was later refined by the TOUR."
Now, to be fair, there is a plethora of other statistical categories we can look at where Snedeker's numbers are better. It's not my intent to hide those from you. My intent is to figure out how Snedeker one-putts so many greens. I'll keep digging and if I have more thoughts on this I'll share with you. Let's hope he brings that magical putting to Medinah the last weekend in September. Give me some feedback. And thanks for reading.