Stat attack!: Deutsche Bank Championship preview

By John AntoniniAugust 27, 2014, 12:24 am

While the rest of the golf world has been watching Rory McIlroy dominate the summer of 2014, I have been watching Jim Furyk. The PGA Tour veteran has done everything but win this season, and has been playing almost pretty noteworthy himself of late. In his last five events, Furyk has never finished worse than T-15 (WGC-Bridgestone), held two 54-hole leads only to fall back on Sunday despite shooting 69 and 70 in those two final rounds, and 19 of his last 20 rounds have been under par. He heads into this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, where he has never missed the cut, ranked sixth in the FedEx Cup standings and the Official World Golf Ranking. If anyone owns the definition of “being due,” it’s Furyk.

Jim Furyk’s last five PGA Tour starts

 Tournament Finish Scores Earnings
 Barclays 8 66-69-69-70--274 $248,000
 PGA Championship T-5 66-68-72-66--272 367,500
 WGC-Bridgestone T-15 69-68-69-69--275 97,500
 RBC Canadian Open 2 67-63-65-69--264    615,600
 British Open 4 68-71-71-65--275 478,380

Jim Furyk at the Deutsche Bank since the start of the PGA Tour Playoffs

 Year Finish
 2013 T-27
 2012 T-13
 2011 6
 2010 T-37
 2009 T-8
 2008 T-7
 2007 T-55

That Furyk hasn’t won since the 2010 Tour Championship is amazing given all he has accomplished. In the last three seasons, Furyk has finished second six times and third three times. He has had 24 top-10 finishes and earned more than $11 million, having recently gone over the $60 million mark for his career. The fact he has not won despite holding or sharing the 54-hole lead eight different times in the last three years is mind blowing at first glance, considering he has not played poorly on Sunday in many of those tournaments.

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

But a closer look at the scoring averages shows that Furyk hasn’t often taken advantage of opportunities that the rest of the field has capitalized on. Take this year’s two events for example. At the Barclays, Furyk’s final-round 70 looks good until it’s compared to the field average of 70.31. The final-round scoring average in Canada was 68.67 slightly lower than Furyk’s 69.

Jim Furyk compared to the field when he holds the 54-hole lead 

 Tournament Furyk's Sunday score Sunday field average Winner's score
 2014 Barclays 70 70.31 65 (Hunter Mahan)
 2014 Canadian Open 69 68.67 65 (Tim Clark)
 2013 BMW
71 70.56 65 (Zach Johnson)
 2013 PGA
71 70,.94 68 (Jason Dufner)
 2012 McGladrey  69 69.48 60 (Tommy Gainey)
 2012 WGC-Bridgestone 69 70.15 64 (Keegan Bradley)
 2012 U.S. Open 74 72.90 68 (Webb Simpson)
 2012 Transitions 69 70.48 66 (Luke Donald)


Furyk has shot in the 60s five times in those eight events and averaged 70.25 per round. The player who would go on to win averaged 65.1 in the final round (led by Tommy Gainey’s 60 at the 2012 McGladrey). Furyk shot better than the final-round average four times, but if you round to whole numbers he never beat the field average by more than a stroke. More often than not, Furyk was a field-average player on Sunday, while the tournament winner was at least three strokes better than the field every time. 

That seems unsustainable. Somewhere along the way, a player who is good enough to shoot 59 on a day when the field averages more than 71 (second round, 2013 BMW) is going to be able to substantially improve on the field with the tournament on the line. After all, Furyk held the 54-hole lead on three occassions in 2010 and won all three times.

Furyk isn’t the only player to have a history of success at the Deutsche Bank Championship. There are nine other players in this year’s field who have made five or more starts at TPC Boston and have never missed the cut. Only Jason Day (seventh, one spot behind Furyk) is ranked in the top 10 on the current FedEx Cup standings.

Players who have not missed the cut in five or more starts at the Deutsche Bank

 Player Starts Best finish FedEx rank
 Jason Bohn 5 Second in 2005 68
 Angel Cabrera 5 T-4 in 2009 45
 Jason Day 6 T-2 in 2010, T-3 in 2011 7
 Jim Furyk 9 Sixth in 2011 6
 Marc Leishman 5 T-15 in 2009 36
 Phil Mickelson 7 Won in 2007 57
 Adam Scott 9 Won in 2003, T-2 in 2004 16
 John Senden 10 Eighth in 2010 28
 Brandt Snedeker 7 T-3 in 2011 71
 Camilo Villegas 8 T-3 in 2008 49

FedEx rank coming into this week is important. Five of the seven Deutsche Bank winners in the Playoff era were ranked in the top 10 in FedEx points entering the week. Henrik Stenson, who won in 2013, had fallen out of the top 10, from ninth to 13th, the week prior to winning a year ago.

Rank of Deutsche Bank winner on the FedEx Cup standings

 Year Player Rank entering week
 2013 Henrik Stenson 13
 2012 Rory McIlroy 4
 2011 Webb Simpson 4
 2010 Charley Hoffman 59
 2009 Steve Stricker 2
 2008 Vijay Singh 1
 2007 Phil Mickelson 5

With that in mind, here’s a glance at the top 10 in this week’s standings and how they have fared at Boston

This week's FedEx Cup leaders at the Deutsche Bank Championship

 Player Deutsche Bank record
 Hunter Mahan T-8 in 2011 is his only top 10 in 11 starts
 Rory McIlroy He won in 2012, but was outside the top 35 two other times
 Jimmy Walker Two cuts in five starts, with a best of T-37 in 2011
 Matt Kuchar 10 starts, one top 10; a T-4 in 2013
 Bubba Watson Six cuts made in eight starts with a best of T-12 in pre-Playoff 2006 
 Jim Furyk Six starts, no missed cuts, two top threes
 Jason Day Six starts, no missed cuts, two top threes
 Patrick Reed T-70 in 2013 in his only appearance
 Jordan Spieth T-4 after a final-round 62 in 2013 in his only start
 Cameron Tringale Missed cut in 201 and 2012; T-67 in 2013

One final thought: In the seven years of the PGA Tour Playoffs, the Deutsche Bank winner has finished in the top 10 in the field in scrambling. The Tour’s 2013-14 leader in scrambling is, you guessed it, Jim Furyk at 71.10 percent. 

If you haven't already done so, please follow me on Twitter at @johnantoninigc

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.