Stat attack!: Deutsche Bank Championship review

By John AntoniniSeptember 2, 2014, 1:41 am

Chris Kirk won the Deutsche Bank Championship Monday with a score of 15-under 269. He shot 66-64-66 in the last three rounds to offset an opening 73, one of the highest scores for a winner on the PGA Tour in the last several years.

But an argument can be made that it was Kirk’s 73 that won him the tournament. On a Friday in which the Georgia Bulldog hit just seven greens in regulation, he scrambled his way to a 2-over score. Kirk was fourth in the field in scrambling – making par or better eight times in Round 1 after missing the green in regulation – and continues a trend where the Deutsche Bank winner takes advantage of opportunities after missing greens.

Highest winning first-round scores on the PGA Tour since 2010

 First-round score Player Tournament
 74 Justin Rose 2014 Quicken Loans National
 73 Chris Kirk 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship
 73 Kevin Streelman 2013 Tampa Bay Championship
 73 Bill Lunde 2010 Turning Stone Championship

Scrambling rank of Deutsche Bank Championship winner: 2007-2014

 Year Winner Scrambling (rank)
 2014 Chris Kirk 80.77% (4)
 2013 Henrik Stenson 81.82% (T-6)
 2012 Rory McIlroy 70.83% (10)
 2011 Webb Simpson      76.00% (5)
 2010 Charley Hoffman 82.35% (2)
 2009  Steve Stricker 73.91% (10)
 2008 Vijay Singh 76.92% (4)
 2007 Phil Mickelson 86.36% (1)

Every winner in the playoff era finished in the top 10 in scrambling at TPC Boston. The difference between Kirk and everyone else is that none of those winners shot a score as high as 73, or hit as few as seven greens in one round.

In fact, Stricker in 2009 was the only winner in that span with a round higher than 70. Every winner from 2007-2013 hit at least 10 greens in every round.

What would the expected score be for a player who only hits seven greens on a par-71 course? There’s no easy way to determine this, of course, but let’s try.

Let’s assume a player reaches the putting surface on the shot after he missed the green in regulation. That means Kirk, who entered the week with a one-putt percentage of about 41 percent, should have been expected to make a one-putt par on 41 percent of those 11 holes. He should have made 4.5 pars.

Instead he made eight pars when he missed the green, improving his expectations by 3.5 strokes. He would go on to win by two.

Kirk scored better than expected on Friday, and he played out of his mind over the last 54 holes, shooting 17-under (66-64-66) to hold off Russell Henley, Geoff Ogilvy and Billy Horschel by two strokes. That 196 total is the third-best final-54 hole total in Deutsche Bank Championship history.

Best total score over the last 54 holes at the Deutsche Bank Championship

 Player Year Final 54 holes
 Henrik Stenson 2013 63-66-66—195
 Adam Scott 2003 62-67-66—195
 Chris Kirk 2014 66-64-66—196

It was the second win of the season for Kirk, who also won the McGladrey Classic, the fifth event of the 2013 wrap-around portion of this PGA Tour season. He made the cut in his first 20 starts of the year and has made 24 cuts in 26 starts in 2013-14.

Players with the highest percentage of cuts made in 2013-14 (15 or more starts)

 Player Cuts made Starts Percentage of cuts made Top 25s
 Jim Furyk 19 19 1.000 15
 Adam Scott 15 15 1.000 14
 Rory McIlroy 15 15 1.000 15
 Bill Haas 25 26 .961 15
 Graeme McDowell 15 16 .937 10
 Chris Kirk 24 26 .923 11

What stands out in Kirk’s record is that he only has four top-10 finishes, and he has been in the top 25 in fewer than half his starts.

Chris Kirk’s best finishes in 2013-14

 Tournament Finish
 McGladrey Classic Won
 Deutsche Bank Championship Won
 Sony Open 2
 Memorial  T-4
 Honda Classic T-12

Still, he’s one of six players with multiple victories this season, having joined Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Patrick Reed with two titles. (Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker have three victories each.) Now, he’s first in the FedEx Cup standings, ahead of McIlroy and Walker. Not bad at all.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”