2008 By The Numbers

By Brian HewittDecember 1, 2008, 5:00 pm
PGA TourIt has been weeks now since the PGA Tours official season ended. And the 2008 final numbers, courtesy of the crunchers in Ponte Vedra Beach, are all official now.
Poring over the Tours year-end stats is a little like noshing on Thanksgiving Day leftovers: They often taste better the next day. Or, in the case of statistics, the next week or month.
Bubba Watson led the Tour in driving distance this year with an average poke of 315.1 yards. Perhaps more amazing was that 44.1 percent of Watsons measured drives in 2008 were 320 yards or longer. This stat is a little like federal bailout money numbers. After a few hundred billion dollars your eyes start to glaze over.
Olin Browne put 80.42 percent of his measured drives in the fairway to lead in that category. He also led in right rough avoidance with a 5.47 percent number. Take that Fred Funk.
Finally, before we leave the driving stats, it should be noted that J.B. Holmes and Robert Garrigus tied for first in the carry distance department with an average of 298.1 yards. Which means this is not a driving stat so much as it is a launching stat.
You shouldnt be surprised that short game wizard Corey Pavin led all comers in the approaches 75-100 yards category with an average leave of 11 feet, 10 inches. Stewart Cink was the best on Tour from 225-250 yards with an average leave of 41 feet, 4 inches.
Joe Durant led the Tour in ball striking but struggled near the end of the season to keep his card. Which tells you two things: Durant needs to putt better and, yes, putting is disproportionately important. Or as the late, great Lloyd Mangrum once put it: We dont play long ball out here. We play, get-it-in-the-hole.'
Harrison Frazar led in greens in regulation (GIR) from the rough at 60.39 percent. To which I can only reply: Groovy, baby. But, hey, no knock here on Frazar. Everybody has access to the same equipment (unless theyre stuck in a club deal with a company that doesnt know how to fit its players).
Dudley Hart led everybody with a success rate of 63.71 in getting up and down from bunkers. Mike Weir led everybody in proximity to the hole out of the sand with an average of 6 feet, 6 inches. Brian Gay, a dreamy good putter, was No. 1 in the overall scrambling category, getting it up and down 64.82 percent of the time.
This reminds me of how much everybody used to gush about how good Tom Watson was at making pars after missing greens in his prime. The main reason: He made more 10-foot putts in his prime than anybody else. In fact, when I ran that past top teacher Jim McLean recently he agreed it was the one thing Palmer, Nicklaus, Norman, Watson and Woods all had in common when they were playing their best golf: They made more important 10-footers than anybody else.
Sergio Garcia, arguably the player who took the biggest advantage of Woods absence for most of 2008, had the lowest scoring average at 69.12 while zooming to No. 2 in the world rankings. Phil Mickelson, an emotional player trapped in an analytical mind, was better than everybody else in the bounce back category, at a rate of 26.21 percent. One top agent recently told me Mickelson was the least successful among top players in 2008 at taking advantage of Tigers hiatus.
Heres a fascinating revelation: Bob Tway, who will turn 50 in 2009, led the Tour in par-3 birdies, making a deuce 20 percent of the time. Tway also led the Tour in putting average at 1.718 per hole. At the end of the year Scott Verplank, one of the best putters in golf in the last 20 years, was actually taking putting lessons from his good friend Tway.
The best putter from 10-15 feet with a success rate of 39.77 percent? This one might surprise you. It was Adam Scott, who had an otherwise unremarkable campaign. Paul Goydos, by the way, didnt miss a putt inside of 3 feet all year.
A few more tidbits:
  • Ben Curtis went 374 holes without a three-putt.
  • Steve Marino, with 440, made more birdies than anybody else.
  • Troy Matteson hit 31 straight greens in regulation. No one had a higher number.
  • The fairways at Oakland Hills were the toughest to hit. The field succeeded at a rate of just 48.48 percent.
  • The greens at Royal Birkdale were the toughest to hit in regulation. The field succeeded at a rate of just 48.48 percent. Birkdale was the toughest course with a stroke average at the Open Championship of 4.869 shots per round over par.
  • The toughest par-5 all year was the 14th at Pebble Beach, at .296 over par per player, per try. Yes thats the hole Mickelson made an 11 on during the AT&T.
  • Craig Barlow made the longest putt of the year: 111 feet, 5 inches on the first hole of the final round of the Buick Open at Warwick Hills.
  • Tim Petrovic hit the longest measured drive on the 11th hole of the first round of the Honda Classic. It was 439 yards. That is not a typo.
    Finally, take note: For the second consecutive year, driving distance went down on the PGA Tour. Before the drop in 2007, you had to go all the way back to 1993 to find a decline.
    Maybe todays players are figuring out that Lloyd Mangrum was on to something.
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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    CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

    The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

    Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

    Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

    Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

    Notables in the field

    Phil Mickelson

    * This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

    * For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

    * He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

    * This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

    Jon Rahm

    * Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    * In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

    * Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

    Adam Hadwin

    * Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

    * In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    Brian Harman

    * Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

    * Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

    * Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

    Brandt Snedeker

    * Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

    * This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

    * Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

    Patrick Reed

    * Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

    * This is his first start of 2018.

    * Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

    (Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.) 

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    Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

    South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

    Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

    Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

    Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

    Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.