The PLAYERS Championship is the PGA golf event with the largest cash prizes awarded on tour, and the presence of the top players on tour on par with the majors, yet is still the most prestigious of the non-major events. That include the spectre of having an island green for a hole, the now infamous 17th at TPC Sawgrass.
Here are my foursome for the week, based on the combined stats of ball striking and scrambling, listing top 10 accomplishments on tour for 2014 thus far:
Bubba Watson: driving distance, holes per eagle, scoring average, all around, par 3 and par 4 birdie or better, top 10 finishes, scrambling, par 3 performance, scrambling from over 30 yards, GIR % under 75 yards, approaches 175-200, putts inside 5′, 15-20′ and 15′ to 25′, driving % over 300 and 320 yards, GIR % other than fairway, scrambling from rough, 3 putt avoidance, distance to hole after tee, plus 7 radar stats.
2013 37th 286
2011 45th 286
2009 37th 288
Not terrible stats as they are all pointing the right way, but he’s pretty sensitive to the conditions of the game and he’ll be somewhat off mentally for round 2, and he’s pretty weak physically. Would not lock him in to make the cut but anything’s certainly possible. Don’t expect too much from him if he does survive the 4 rounds.
2008 winner of this tournament Sergio Garcia:
Scoring average, sand save %, all around, par 4 birdie or better, scrambling, par 3 and 4 performance, scrambling from over 30 yards, GIR% under 70 yards and 175-200, approaches 200-225 yards, putting inside 5′, 10-15′, and over 25′, GIR% other than fairway, and 3 radar stats
2013 T8th, 281
2012 T56th, 291
2011 T12th, 280
2010 47th, 288
2009 T22, 286
2008 won, 283
2007 2nd, 279
2006 T14, 286
2005 T32, 289
2004 T53, 290
2002 T4, 284
2001 T50, 293
Very good strength for the 4 days, mental game improving, tho he’s feeling rather disconnected from his surroundings. Overall I do like his chances, especially if he can land his share of GIR and approaches,
Driving accuracy, all around, par 3 birdie or better, scrambling, par 3 and 4 birdie performance, GIR% under 100 and 125 yards, approaches 50-125 yards, putting over 25′, and 1 radar stat
2013 T19, 283
2012 T2, 277
2011 T12, 280
2010 T22, 282
2009 T32, 287
2007 T16, 285
2006 T58, 297
2005 T8, 283
Best of this foursome scoring-wise in this tournament.
No real strength to his drives, but he’s invested more emotionally in the game here. He’ll also make more than his share of mental errors. Tough cycles for a golfer. The passion’s there but waning.
Charles Howell III
Total birdies, top 10 finishes, par 4 and 5 performance, driving % over 300, GIR% other than fairway, 0 radar stats
2013 T66 291
2007 79th, 298
2006 T53, 295
2003 T32, 287
2002 T60, 295
Quite a week ahead for Charles, with all 4 cycles strongly up, and only has to weather some physical miscues in the first 2 rounds and do his best on those par 4s and par 5s. If he does, he’s a strong contender.
My fandom of golf is really more about the competition rather than rooting
for household names. Though, I will appreciate a good guy to fans (Lefty), a
feel-good story, or a one-win player who just got their card recently and
got the magic invite, (how about Matt Jones and the called chip-in Sunday!)
to Augusta National, or a player or three who have great resumes but have
not yet won a major (hello again, Sergio Garcia).
That typed, I’m not a Tiger fan, and I won’t watch (or refuse to watch)
based on whether or not Tiger is involved.
I believe in fair courses. After all, golf ideally is man vs the elements,
especially in links courses. The best golf does reward good driving and
approaches, punishes really bad shots, and has a decent but not overly sense
of fairness to it. Some courses specialize in having trees, water, sand,
rough, all of it, as prime hazards. I haven’t calculated or begun to figure
out which holes or courses at large have the most trouble of different types
to overcome, but I can certainly give you my take on whether or not a hole
is really good. Frankly, I’d like risk-reward holes over any other type.
Prototypical is the 17th ‘island’ hole in The Players Championship. Any
hole that I call a knee-knocker, one where you really have to watch your
yardage and wind situation, say, the 18th at Pebble Beach, or sometimes the
1st at St. Andrews, is worth viewing. I have sometimes played the
interactive World Golf Tour, and I really like the narrow dogleg fairways
and risky holes of Congressional Country Club, notably the 6th, where you
have a risk-reward element on your 2nd shot. Do you go over the water to the
green or lay up in a bottleneck fairway? So many ways to score low or high
on it. That’s what I love about golf, and about great players who make those
I guess that’s why I put a premium on two stats above all others: Ball
Striking (combo of rank in ‘Total Driving’, which itself combines driving
distance and accuracy) and Scrambling, the art of getting into trouble and
out of it again, and still scoring par or better. The best in Total Driving
on the PGA Tour right now, and whom you’ll see at Augusta, is Derek Ernst.
Best in Scrambling? Sergio Garcia.
What I did here was take the combined ranks of the players listed in both
categories, and used the lowest raw scores to determine my ideal foursome
who should contend and win in the Masters.
Sergio is 1st in Scrambling, 20th in Ball Striking = 21
Zach Johnson 11th in Scrambling, 17th in Ball Striking = 28
Bubba Watson 10th in Scrambling, 22nd in Ball Striking = 32
Webb Simpson 25th and 19th = 44
Just behind these: John Senden, 28th, 17th = 45
Also notable but not playing this week: Chris Stroud, Charles Howell III,
Russell Knox, Brendan Steele.
A little more about each player:
Sergio, as cited above, seems to be on everyone’s list as the best player
without a major title. 8 Tour wins. Currently #1 in Scoring Average on the
PGA Tour, 3rd in Sand Saves, 9th All-Around, 3rd in Par 4 Birdie or Better,
3rd in Par 4 performance. Top 10 also in these categories: Scrambling over
30 yards, Greens in Regulation under 75 and also 175-200, approaches
200-225, putting from inside 5′, over 25′, rough proximity, average distance
of putts made, 3-putt avoidance, back 9 scoring average, club head speed,
spin rate, distance to apex.
Average round at Augusta: 72.96 (low 66, high 79), making 11 of 15 cuts.
Best finish: 4th.
Here are his biorhythm cycles for the 4 day tournament:
On the negative side but might see an emotional surge, a rather uphill battle for the 1st 2 rounds. Doubtful he will be able to execute, especially with the physical critical day for round 2. Not sure he’ll make the cut.
Zach Johnson won this tournament in 2007. Top 10 in these stats: Driving
accuracy %, birdie and scoring average, all-around, par breakers, par 3-4
birdie or better, bounce back, par 3 and 4 performance, GIR % 150-175, GIR
under 125 and under 100, putting over 25′, right rough tendency, fairway
proximity, scrambling from rough, back 9 scoring, launch angle.
Average round at Augusta: 73.27 (low 68, high 81), making 6 of 9 cuts.
All depends on day 1 as his strength is just past his peak but prone to mental errors. In fact, a double critical approach in the first 3 rounds. I think he’ll survive but has to avoid thinking with his heart and just go for it.
Bubba Watson won the 2012 Masters. Top 10s: Driving distance, holes per
eagle, par 4 birdie or better, round 3 and final round scoring, par 4
performance, scrambling over 30 yards, GIR % under 75 yards; approaches
175-200, putting inside 5′, 15′-20 and 15′-25′, driving % over 300 yards,
GIR % other than fairway, going for the green, scrambling from rough, 3 putt
avoidance, avg distance to hole after tee, avg distance after going for it,
club head speed, ball speed, distance to apex, apex height, hang time, carry
Average at Augusta: 72.15 (low 67, high 78), making all 5 cuts.
He’s quite likely to outthink the competition and master this course. It comes down to the execution, and right now he’s fairly lacking in that department. He’ll have to rely on his short game and putting here.
Webb Simpson qualified bywinning the 2012 US Open. 4 Tour wins.
Top 10s: Strokes gained in putting, birdie average, all-around, par
breakers, par 5 birdie or better, putting 10′-15′ and 20′-25′, avg distance
of putts made, proximity to hole from sand.
73.83 average at Augusta, (low 70, high 78), making 1 of 2 cuts. Best
Amazingly, Webb has a triple high for exactly one day, while feeling the effect of a mental critical and a coming emotional critical on top of that. Physically he’s in peak form. Very good cycles for the 4 days. He’d have to rely on the long distance and hope he can be fairly accurate to adhere to his stats, especially GIR, seeking his success with putting.
I’d pick Webb to do the best of this foursome, tho I truly think these 4 are most likely to contend at Augusta among the 97 playing, and even to win.
So the week I don’t report on PGA Tour stats, the week of the US Open itself, one of the golfers I had touted in prior weeks manages to win the darn thing. All hail Justin Rose! I did want Lefty to win but I knew my numbers begged otherwise. I’m glad it turned out the way it did, truly.
No excuse blogging here without reporting on the present tournament, The Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Here are my top 4 for the week:
JUSTIN ROSE: 6th in overall GIR%, 2nd in scoring average, 2nd in sand saves, leader in total driving, 2nd all-around. Leads in Par 5 birdie-or-better, 6th in scoring average before cut, 3rd in ball striking, 7th in Par 4 performance, 2nd in ‘average going for it shot distance in yards’. Distance: 3rd in approaches from over 200 yards, 1st in GIR% under 75 yards, over 200, and under 100. Radar: Carry distance and efficiency are in the top 10.
Justin makes his 7th appearance on this course. Best finish was a tie for 9th both in 2007 and 2011. 2011 score of -11 is his best score here.
Excellent cycles for the new US Open champion, with a mini-triple high starting today, feeling very sure of his decision-making process after some minor fuzziness.
GRAHAM DELAET: 6th in driving distance, 1st in GIR%, 2nd in total driving. 10th in scoring average before cut. Leads in ball striking. 3rd in Par 5 performance. 9th in ‘average going for it shot distance’. 2nd in GIR% over 200 yards, 8th 175-200, 5th 125-150. 4th in GIR% from other than fairway. Radar: Top 10s in club head speed, ball speed, distance to apex, apex height, hang time, carry distance.
4th appearance at this course, missing 1 cut. Best finish: tied for 68th, both in 2010 and 2012. Best score: even par, 2010.
Ugly cycles for Graham, as he’s in a triple-low. Don’t expect him to be around on Saturday.
BRENDON DE JONGE: 10th in scoring average, 10th in ball striking, 1st in Par 5 performance.
Makes his 6th appearance at this course. Missed the cut twice. Best finish: 2012, tied for 8th. Best score: -11, 2012 and 2010.
Mixed bag here. Might be difficult for him as he goes through an emotional critical day on Round 2.
CAMERON TRINGALE : 7th in sand saves.
4th appearance, making only cut in 2012, finishing tied for 15th, -9.
Coming out of long triple-low period, Feeling a lot stronger for the 4 days but prone to making mental errors.
Rose looks the best of the 4 here.
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PGA Tour moves to Memphis’s TPC Southwind for the FedEx St. Jude’s Classic. This takes place 1 week before the US Open, which is based at a similar course (Merion) to TPC Southwind in that it calls for more precision than distance. For this tournament, the winner gets a blue/white seersucker jacket. Winning scores have been at least 8-under for all but 2 years in the last 40 tournaments. How about that?
Here are my foursome for the week, which haven’t changed that much from tourney to tourney:
JUSTIN ROSE, BILL HAAS (not playing)
CAMERON TRINGALE 8/24/87: 9th in round 3 scoring average (69.80). Radar stat: Ball spin rate: 8th. No other top-10 stats.
TPC Southwind stats: 2011: T8, -7; 2010: cut.
Don’t expect much from Cameron this week. Starts off today in physical critical cycle, with no real handle on his driving. The remaining aspects of his game seem relatively solid but wane quickly as the weekend continues.
BRANDT SNEDEKER 12/8/80 The Nashville-based golfer ranks in the top-10 in these categories:
10th in driving accuracy, 3rd in birdie average, 4th all-around, 4th in par breakers, 3rd in par 4 birdie or better % (5th for all holes), 3rd best scoring average (69.89), 2nd in round 3 (68.63), 6th in final round (69.25). Leads in top 10 finishes. 9th in bounce back, 1st in par 4 performance. 3rd in GIR% at 125-150 yards, 6th in approaches 50-15 out. 3rd best front 9 scoring avg (34.62). Leads in rough proximity.
This tour report posts that Brandt is taking a legal drug to repair his rib cage muscles, strained at Pebble Beach earlier this year:
TPC Southwind stats:
2011: T15, -4; 2010: T29, -2; 2009, cut; 2008: T35, +3; 2007: T5, -5; 2004: T72, +10.
Brandt is coming out of a triple-low, the pains of which will be strongly relevant in day 1, with a physical critical day of his own. It’s the sort of day where there will be strong physical challenges, mostly from his driving and shotmaking, and felt more deeply and internally. From day 2 on, his shots will be stronger, and he will have to rely on his power instead of finesse to do well. This isn’t quite the course for such, tho, and I wonder whether he will actually make the cut.
Jack Nicklaus’s Muirfield Village, a leading golf course in the US, hosts what some might call the PGA Tour’s fifth major. This takes place after a prior fifth major in the Players Championship earlier in the month.
Here’s my foursome for the week, all in action here:
JUSTIN ROSE: 10th in birdie average, 6th in scoring, 1st in sand save percentage, 3rd in total driving, 3rd all-around, 2nd in Par 5 birdie-or-better, 8th in scoring average before cut, 5th in ball striking, 8th in scrambling, best avg yards in ‘going for it’ shot distance, 4th in approaches over 200 yards, leads in GIR% over both 75 and 100 yards, 3rd over 125, 2nd in approaches between 75 and 100, (hmm..what degree wedges is he using?), 7th in putting 15-20′, best average distance after ‘going for it’ (18′). Distance and driving effeciency is best on the tour. This is a player I would absolutely watch for his all-around game.
At Muirfield Village, he won this tournament in 2010. In 8 appearances he has a 71.18 average, with an average finish of 38th.
How about those biorhythm cycles? Let’s look (7/30/80):
He’ll have his best game overall in the first 2 rounds and make the cut…then it’s all downhill with physical and emotional critical days just after. He will cash, but not nearly as well as expected.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: 8th in driving accuracy, 1st in birdie average, 5th in scoring average, 4th all-around, 7th in bounce backs, 2nd on Par 4 scoring, 8th in GIR% from other than fairway, 1st in rough proximity, 7th in average distance in putts made. Another golfer to give some attention to, tho he doesn’t have the stats that Rose has.
Brandt has played this tournament 5 times, never making the cut!, with a 73.8 average score.
Here’s his cycles (12/8/80):
Not a pleasant week for Brandt, as I see him having to play rather conservative to do well this week. Any risk he takes will be costly, and he will be down on himself more likely than usual.
CAMERON TRINGALE: 10th in sand save %, 8th in Round 3 scoring, Radar stat: 8th in ball spin rate. In 2 starts here he finished for 25th, and missed the cut in his debut.
Here are Cameron’s cycles (8/24/87):
Absolutely idyllic cycles for Tringale, who should do very well over the 4 days…and could even win.
LEE WESTWOOD: 5th in Scrambling (and 6th over 30 yards), 8th in going for the green.
This will be Lee’s first appearance at Muirfield Village.
Biorhythm cycles for Lee (4/24/73):
Westwood’s heart will be his strongest feature…his physicality and his mental game are at its low point these 4 days. The course will bring him to his knees.
PGA Tour is in Fort Worth TX for the Crown Plaza Invitational these four days. Here are the golfers I’m tracking, usually my usual combo of the Ball Striking and Scrambling tour stats:
In the field: Cameron Triangle:
Selected top 10 stats: Round 3 scoring average (69). Radar: Spin rate (8th).
Not playing: Justin Rose, Louis Oousthiuzen, Brandt Snedeker
Tringale’s record at Colonial are not very good. He finished tied for 65, scoring +4 in 2011, then missed the cut at +6 last year.
Some aspects of his game are surely gaining strength this week but it’s an uphill climb. You’ll expect him to do better in the 2nd round, and will have to score pretty low, based on past performance, to make it to Saturday.
Last week: At the Byron Nelson, Graham DeLaet’s predicted bullish performance was a reality….a pair of 67s, then a pair of 70s, enough to finish in 10th place.