PGA Tour introduces new putting statistic

By Doug FergusonMay 3, 2011, 11:28 pm

PGA TourCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dean Wilson always believed he was a good putter, whether he was in Japan or on the PGA Tour. The trick was finding proof of that in the statistics.

He finished no higher than 31st in putts per round over the last five years, but Wilson never put much stock in that because it doesn’t account for how often a player is putting for birdie or getting up-and-down from just off the green. He once was 13th in average putts per greens in regulation, although that didn’t account for proximity to the hole.

So the 41-year-old from Hawaii was not surprised when told about a new PGA Tour statistic that became official Monday, one that uses Shotlink data over an entire year to measure how well a player putts compared with the field.

The statistic officially is called “Strokes Gained-Putting,” and it’s the first time in 15 years that the PGA Tour has introduced a new core statistic. Wilson would have been among the top 11 putters in four of the last five years.

“I always felt like I’m a good putter,” Wilson said. “I’m confident in my technique and the theories I use. I just don’t know what the correct way would be to measure it. They’re all skewed one way or another. I could never think there was another way to do it.”

That’s where Mark Broadie comes in.

Broadie, who plays off a 4 handicap when he’s not working as a Columbia Business School professor, has been crunching Shotlink numbers for the better part of a decade as he tries to find the most meaningful measure of a tour player’s game.

“A good putting stat should provide a pure measure of putting skill,” said Broadie, who developed the stat and then honed it with a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His philosophy is simple – the quality of every shot should be based on where it started and where it finished.

The math is a little more complicated.

It starts with determining how many average putts it takes a PGA Tour player from each distance. Broadie discovered that at just under 8 feet, players have a 50 percent chance of making the putt – in other words, the average stroke for that length is 1.5. The average gets higher for the longer putts.

So if Nick Watney makes an 8-foot putt, he will have gained 0.5 strokes on the field. If he takes two putts from that distance, he will have lost 0.5 strokes to the field. The average for a 20-foot putt is about 1.9. If he makes the putt, he gains 0.9 on the field, whereas if he misses the putt, he loses only 0.1 strokes.

Add these up at the end of each round and you have “Putts Gained.”

Watney is used as an example because he is the current tour leader at 1.215. All that number means is that Watney gains an average of about 1.2 strokes on the field through his putting.

The numbers might not make a lot of sense, but the names do. Luke Donald would have led the tour in this statistic the last two years. Ben Crane would have led the tour twice. Tiger Woods for years was regarded one of golf’s best putters. With this statistic, he ranked among the top 3 in three of the last five years he was eligible.

Others who were around the top 10 just about every year were players whom their peers consider good putters – Woods, Steve Stricker, Donald, Crane, Brian Gay, Aaron Baddeley – and yes, even Dean Wilson.

The tour awards a medal to each player who leads a major statistical category, just as driving distance and greens in regulation. Starting this year, “putts gained” will determine who wins the putting category.

It’s not a perfect system, although it’s designed to take out the bias from the previous putting stats.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.