Stat attack! Farmers Insurance Open statistical review

By John AntoniniJanuary 27, 2014, 2:30 pm

What an odd week at the Farmers Insurance Open. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson made the cut, but neither played on Sunday. Gary Woodland, the 54-hole leader made double bogey on the 17th hole in both weekend rounds and eventually finished three strokes back.

Precocious 20-year-old Jordan Spieth inexplicably followed a 63 on the North Course at Torrey Pines with a pair of 75s on the South Course on the weekend. And Scott Stallings, despite an opening-round 72, shot a 9-under 279 to beat a quintet of players by one stroke for his third PGA Tour victory.

It was the highest opening round by a winner this season, and the first time a player won despite opening at even par or worse since Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open with a 1-over 71.

Highest opening rounds (to par) by PGA Tour winners since 2013

Kevin Streelman 2013 Tampa Bay Two-over 73
Justin Rose 2013 U.S. Open One-over 71
Scott Stallings 2014 Farmers Insurance Open Even-par 72
Graeme McDowell 2013 Heritage Even-par 71

Stallings, who birdied the last hole to take the lead, then waited out the final few groups, didn’t win at Torrey Pines in the conventional fashion.

Not one of the longest hitters in the field or the most accurate upon approach, Stallings took advantage of a deft putting touch, leading the field in strokes-gained putting by sinking 10 putts from more than 10 feet.

Only one other winner among the last six at the Farmers was also in the top 10 in strokes-gained putting. Stallings’ proximity to the hole on approach was the worst of the last six champions.

Statistical comparison of Farmers Insurance Open winners since 2009

Year Player Distance Prox. to hole Str. Gained/Putt. Putting from 10+ feet
2014 Scott Stallings 291.9 (24) 42 ft., 0 in. (63) 2.794 (1) 10/33; 30.30% (3)
2013 Tiger Woods 307.3 (2) 38 ft., 0 in. (T-49) 0.649 (28) 4/32; 12.50% (T43)
2012 Brandt Snedeker 284.8 (T-47) 36 ft., 10 in. (43) 1.473 (9) 9/38; 23.68% (5)
2011 Bubba Watson 316.1 (1) 25 ft., 10 in. (1) 0.247 (41) 6/31; 19.35% (T-22)
2010 Ben Crane 272.5 (T-51) 30 ft., 8 in. (6) 0.015 (45) 7/36; 19.44% (T-16)
2009 Nick Watney 268.8 (21) 35 ft., 7 in. (6) 0.253 (40) 2/30; 6.67% (64)

The 28-year-old Stallings continued the youth movement on the PGA Tour. He’s the sixth winner in his 20s this season.

Age of winners on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

Player Current age Birthday
Zach Johnson 37 Feb. 24, 1976
Jimmy Walker 35 Jan. 16, 1979
Ryan Moore 31 Dec. 5, 1982
Dustin Johnson 29 June 22, 1984
Webb Simpson 28 August 8, 1985
Chris Kirk 28 May 8, 1985
Scott Stallings 28 March 28, 1985
Harris English 24 July 23, 1989
Patrick Reed 23 Aug. 5, 1990

For most of the final round it appeared Woodland, not Stallings, would join the list of twenty-something winners. Playing in the final group, Woodland birdied No. 13 to get to 9 under, but a bogey on 14 and a double at 17 saw him fall to 6-under 282 for a T-10.

It was the worst finish by a 54-hole leader in 2013-14, and the biggest collapse by a player with sole possession of the 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event since Brendon de Jonge took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the 2012 AT&T National and shot 77 to finish T-11.

Worst finish by a 54-hole leader in a PGA Tour event in 2013-14

Gary Woodland T-10 Farmers Insurance Open
Dustin Johnson T-6 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Robert Karlsson T-6 OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Spieth, too, had his chances, but he never got on track on the weekend when he returned to Torrey Pines South after his second-round 63. The 12-stroke difference between his 63 and his third-round 75 matches the largest differential between rounds two and three for any player on tour this season.

The most strokes gained between rounds two and three on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

12 Jordan Spieth Farmers Insurance Open 63-75
12 Marc Leishman CIMB Classic 65-77
12 D.J. Trahan Humana Challenge 68-80
11 Camilo Villegas Open 66-77

On Sunday Woods and Mickelson were nowhere to be found. Although both players made the cut, neither played Sunday.

Mickelson was the first to leave, withdrawing Friday night with a sore back after finishing his second round in a tie for 32nd at 2-under 142. He was one stroke better than Woods at the time.

Midway through Saturday, it was Woods who was feeling the pain. Starting his round on No. 10, Woods was 1 under through eight holes before making two double bogeys and five bogeys on the next seven holes. The 79 matched his third highest score in a PGA Tour event.

Tiger Woods highest rounds on the PGA Tour

Tournament Round Score
2002 British Open 3 81
1994 Nestle Invitational* 1 80
2014 Farmers Insurance Open 3 79
2013 Memorial Tournament 3 79
2010 Quail Hollow Championship 2 79
1996 TOUR Championship 2 78
1995 British Open* 4 78
1993 Honda Classic* 2 78
1999 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am 3 78
1993 Nissan Los Angeles Open* 2 78


One final note on Stallings. Before winning at Torrey, the three-time PGA Tour winner didn't have much luck on the West Coast Swing. Prior to the Farmers, he made just four cuts in 15 starts in what had normally been the season-opening stretch of tournaments. It is just another example of how Sunday’s turn of events wasn’t the norm.

Getty Images

USGA, R&A detail World Handicap System

By Randall MellFebruary 20, 2018, 2:00 pm

The USGA and the R&A released details Tuesday of a proposed new World Handicap System.

The WHS takes the six handicapping systems that exist worldwide and aligns them under a new single system.

The USGA and the R&A will govern the WHS with the six existing handicap authorities administering them locally. A two-year transition will begin to fully implement the new system in 2020.

The unified alignment is designed to make it easier to obtain and maintain a handicap and to make the handicap more equitable among golfers of differing abilities and genders around the world.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis said the effort is designed to both simplify and unify the handicap system.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play,” he said.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said the new handicap system should make the game more inviting.

“We want to make it more attractive to golfers to obtain a handicap and strip away some of the complexity and variation which can be off-putting for newcomers,” Slumbers said. “Having a handicap, which is easier to understand and is truly portable around the world, can make golf much more enjoyable and is one of the unique selling points of our sport.”

The new WHS system aims to more accurately gauge the score a golfer is “reasonably capable of achieving” on any course around the world under normal conditions.

Key features of the WHS include:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”
  • A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.  
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only). 
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and the R&A devised the WHS after a review of the handicap systems currently administered by six authorities around the world: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA. Those authorities, plus the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada, collaborated in helping develop the new system.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.  

“While the six existing handicap systems have generally worked very well locally, on a global basis, their different characteristics have sometimes resulted in inconsistency, with players of the same ability ending up with slightly different handicaps,” the USGA and the R&A stated in a joint release. “This has sometimes resulted in unnecessary difficulties and challenges for golfers competing in handicap events or for tournament administrators. A single WHS will pave the way to consistency and portability.”

Getty Images

Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 11:44 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Tiger no longer one with the chaos

By Randall MellFebruary 19, 2018, 9:49 pm

Back in the day, Tiger Woods appeared to relish riding atop the chaos, above the raucous waves of excitement that followed him wherever he went.

Like Kelly Slater surfing epic peaks at Banzai Pipeline ...

Like Chris Sharma dangling atop all the hazards on the cliff face of “The Impossible Climb” at Clark Mountain ...

Hell, like Chuck Yeager ahead of the sonic boom he created breaking the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 over the Mojave Desert in 1947.

It was difficult to tell whether Woods was fueling the bedlam in his duel with Bob May in the 2000 PGA Championship, or if it was fueling him.

Fans scampered in a frenzy you rarely see in golf to get the best look they could at his next shot at Valhalla in that playoff.

Same thing when Woods turned his 15-shot rout into a victory parade in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach that same year.

And when Woods improbably chipped in at the 16th at Augusta National to shake every pine tree at the Masters before going on to defeat Chris DiMarco in a playoff in 2005.

Tiger brought a boisterous, turbulent new wave of excitement to the game, unrivaled since Arnie’s Army followed the legend in his heyday.

Woods attracted new fans who did not understand golf’s time-honored traditions. He lured them to the game’s most hallowed grounds. There were challenges with that, though they always seemed more daunting to Woods’ playing partners than to him.

At his best, Tiger seemed to be one with the chaos, able to turn its energy into his energy.

Every Tiger pairing in his prime turned wherever he was into a home game, turned every golf course into his stadium and transformed every opponent into the visiting team.

We heard how hard that was for the Bob Mays, Chris DiMarcos and even the Ernie Els of the world.

That’s what added to the intrigue of Tiger’s return to Riviera last week, and what will make this week at PGA National and the Honda Classic similarly interesting.

Tiger’s back.

Well, the overly exuberant frenzy only he can create is back, but his game isn’t. Not yet. And now we’re hearing how the bedlam is a challenge to more than his playing partners. It’s a challenge to his game, too.

“It cost me a lot of shots over the years,” Woods said at the Genesis Open. “It’s cost me a few tournaments here and there.

“I’ve dealt with it for a very long time.”

Huh? Did Tiger forget the advantage he had playing in a storm? Or are today’s storms different, more unruly, more destructive?

Did having total control of all facets of his game when he was at his best make the bedlam work for him?

Does the focus it requires to find his old magic today make the chaos work against him?

Jack Nicklaus used to say that when he heard players complaining about difficult conditions going into a major, he checked them off his list of competitive threats.

You wonder if Tiger did the same back in the day, when players talked about the challenges that surrounded a pairing with him.

Golf is different than other sports. That has to be acknowledged here.

When you hear mainstream sports fans wonder what is so wrong with a fan yelling in a player’s backswing, you know they don’t understand the game. A singular comment breaking the silence over a player’s shot in golf is like a fan sneaking onto the field in football and tripping a receiver racing up the sideline. It is game-changing chaos.

Is Tiger facing game-changing chaos now?

Or was Riviera’s noise something he just can’t harness in his current state of repair? Is there more pressure on him trying to come back in that environment?

If Rory McIlroy needed a “couple Advil” for the headache the mayhem at the Genesis Open caused him playing with Tiger last week, then May and DiMarco must have needed shots of Demerol.

Then all those guys who lost majors to Tiger in final-round pairings with him must have felt like they endured four-hour migraines.

“It got a little out of hand,” Justin Thomas said of his two days with Tiger at Riviera.

Maybe McIlroy and Thomas were dealing with something boisterously new, more Phoenix Open in its nausea than anything Tiger created when he broke golf out of a niche.

Whatever it is, Tiger’s challenge finding his best will be even more complicated if he’s no longer one with the chaos, if he can no longer turn its energy into his energy.

If that’s the case, he really may be just one of the guys this time around.

Getty Images

What's in the bag: Genesis Open winner Watson

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 7:02 pm

Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time in his career. Here's a look inside his bag:

Driver: Ping G400 LST (7.6 degrees), with Grafalloy Bi-Matrix Prototype X shaft

Hybrid: Ping G (19 degrees), with Matrix Altus Hybrid X shaft

Irons: Ping iBlade (2), Ping S55 (4-PW), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (52 degrees, 56 degrees, 62 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 shafts

Putter: Ping PLD Anser

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x