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
  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.