Stat attack!: Barclays review

By John AntoniniAugust 25, 2014, 1:12 am

In one way, it’s fitting that Hunter Mahan won the Barclays. Entering this week, Mahan was the only player who had played in every one of the PGA Tour’s playoff tournaments since the start of the FedEx Cup series in 2007. He hadn’t fared extremely well in any of them, with the exception of a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship in 2011. You could say he was due. 

Hunter Mahan in the PGA Tour’s playoff events

 Tournament 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
 Barclays T-17 T-31 T-20 T-31 T-43 MC T-25 Won
 Deutsche Bank MC T-15 T-36 T-33 T-8 T-39 T-13  
 BMW Champ. T-30 T-8 T-38 T-37 T-42 70 T-4  
 Tour Champ. T-5 T-17 24 T-15 2 T-8 T-20  

At Ridgewood CC, Mahan shot a final-round 65 to beat Stuart Appleby, Jason Day and Cameron Tringale by two strokes. He led the field in greens in regulation and all-around rank, and during his 6-under final round, Mahan didn’t miss a putt from less than 15 feet.

He’s the sixth player to win in 2013-14 while leading the field in GIR, and he’s the seventh player since the U.S. Open to win while leading the field in all-around rank (a common occurrance because the all-around rank includes scoring average).

The Tour’s traditional statistics have taken a back seat in recent years to the glossier computer-friendly stats – golf doesn’t yet have a term akin to baseball’s sabermetrics – but Mahan showed that success in all the basic facets of the game is still worth the practice time.

At the Barclays, Mahan tallied 118 all-around points in the stat that combines a player’s rank in eight traditional categories, including driving distance and accuracy, greens in regulation, putting average, birdies per round, eagles, sand saves and scoring average.

Recent PGA Tour winners who also led the field in all-around rank

 Player Tournament
 Hunter Mahan Barclays
 Camilo Villegas Wyndham Championship
 Rory McIlroy PGA Championship
 Tim Clark RBC Canadian Open
 Brian Harman John Deere Classic
 Angel Cabrera Greenbrier Classic 
 Martin Kaymer U.S. Open

Mahan hit 58 greens in regulation at Ridgewood CC, three more than runner-up Bo Van Pelt. He’s the sixth GIR leader to win the tournament in 2013-14.

PGA Tour winners in 2013-14 who also led the field in GIR

 Player Tournament
 Hunter Mahan Barclays
 Rory McIlroy WGC-Bridgestone
 Brian Harman John Deere Classic
 Angel Cabrera Greenbrier Classic
 Matt Kuchar RBC Heritage
 Dustin Johnson  WGC-HSBC Champions

Mahan’s success in the all-around ranking goes beyond making birdies and leading the tournament in scoring average. It’s something he has done all year long.

He ranks among the top 50 players on Tour in 2013-14 in driving distance, accuracy, greens in regulation, scoring average and all-around rank. Only Kevin Chappell also ranks in the top 50 in all five stats and only Shawn Stefani ranks in the top 65 in the five categories.

Players in the top 60 in distance, accuracy, GIR, scoring and all-around rank

 Player Distance rank Accuracy rank GIR rank Scoring avg. rank All-around rank
46 42 28 42 35
45 40 32 48 10
29 47 63 47 38

Mahan is the only one of the three players to win this year, but all three have had solid seasons and remain alive in the chase for the FedEx Cup.

Stefani, a second-year player was T-30 at the Barclays and is 67th in the FedEx Cup standings in his second year on Tour.

Chappell is 61st in the Cup chase after also finishing T-30 at Ridgewood.

As for Mahan, the victory culminates a solid three-tournament run that saw him finish T-15 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and T-7 at the PGA Championship. He’s one of four players who finished in the top 10 at Valhalla and at Ridgewood.

How the top-10 finishers at the PGA Championship* fared at the Barclays

 Player PGA finish Barclays finish
 Rory McIlroy Won T-22
 Phil Mickelson T-2 78
 Rickie Fowler T-3 T-9
 Henrik Stenson T-3 T-38
 Jim Furyk T-5 8
 Ryan Palmer T-5 T-74
 Ernie Els T-7 T-5
 Hunter Mahan T-7 Won
 Jimmy Walker T-7 MC

*Only those who played both events are listed.

The victory moves Mahan atop the new FedEx Cup standings, and would seemingly give him a leg up on securing the Cup for the first time. However, only Vijay Singh in 2008 has won the Barclays and then gone on to win the FedEx Cup as well.

How the Barclays winner has fared in the FedEx Cup

 Year Player FedEx Cup finish
 2014 Hunter Mahan  
 2013 Adam Scott Third
 2012 Nick Watney Fourth
 2011 Dustin Johnson Fourth
 2010 Matt Kuchar Second
 2009 Heath Slocum Eighth
 2008 Vijay Singh Won
 2007 Steve Stricker Second

Mahan’s success led to another final-round disappointment for Jim Furyk, who lost for the eighth straight time after holding or sharing the 54-hole lead.

Jim Furyk with the 54-hole lead or co-lead since 2012

 Tournament Final-round score Finish
 2014 Barclays 70 8
 2014 Canadian Open 69 2
 2013 BMW Championship 71 3
 2013 PGA Championship 71 2
 2012 McGladrey  69 3
 2012 WGC-Bridgestone 69 2
 2012 U.S. Open 74 T-4
 2012 Transitions 69 Playoff loss

As with Sunday, he hasn’t always played poorly during the final round, his scoring average in those eight events is a very respectable 70.25. However the winner of the eight tournaments played to an average of 65.1, including Mahan’s 65 Sunday and Tim Clark’s 65 at the Canadian Open a month earlier.

Furyk has qualified for the Tour Championship six times in the seven years of the playoffs, and he should advance that far again in 2014, giving him three more chances to end his victory drought. Where did Furyk win last? The Tour Championship at East Lake in 2010.

Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.