Stat attack! Humana Challenge statistical review

By John AntoniniJanuary 20, 2014, 3:50 pm

Ultimately, Patrick Reed had nothing to worry about. No player has ever blown a seven-stroke lead through three rounds in a 72-hole PGA Tour event. Now that you know that statistical oddity, you can look at Reed’s two-stroke win over Ryan Palmer at the Humana Challenge in a different light.

Although he struggled for most of the final round, until a clutch birdie putt on the 15th hole (more on that later), Reed’s week in Palm Springs was nothing short of stellar. He became the third player under age 25 with multiple Tour victories, and he came within one stroke of tieing the record for lowest aggregate score through 54 holes.

He became the youngest winner in Humana history since Jack Nicklaus, also 23, won in 1963. And he became the first player in Tour history to shoot 63 or better in the first three rounds of the same tournament.

Multiple PGA Tour winners currently under age 25

Player Wins Age Birthday
Rory McIlroy 6 24 May 4, 1989
Harris English 2 24 July 23, 1989
Patrick Reed 2 23 August 5, 1990

Lowest first 54 holes in a PGA Tour event

Steve Stricker 188 (60-66-62) 2010 John Deere Classic
Patrick Reed 189 (63-63-63) 2014 Humana Challenge
Phil Mickelson 189 (60-65-64) 2013 Waste Management Phx. Open
Mark Calcavecchia 189 (65-60-64) 2001 Phoenix Open
John Cook 189 (64-63-62) 1996 St. Jude Classic

Reed did set the record for lowest score to par over the first 54 holes of an event. His 27-under total was the result of playing on three par-72 courses, while Stricker’s mark came on a par-70 venue and the others were on par-71 courses.

But Reed did make things interesting Sunday. With Zach Johnson shooting 62, Ryan Palmer shooting 63 and Justin Leonard lurking all day, there was pressure on Reed throughout the round.

He hit fairways and greens at a slightly diminished pace from his first three days (eight fairways and 13 greens Sunday; an average of 9.3 fairways and 14.7 greens in the first three rounds), but it was his putting that took a distinct downturn over the final 18 holes.

Until he made the long putt on 15, Reed made barely more than 22 feet of putts in his first 14 holes. It's what made his 17-foot, 5-inch birdie putt on the par-3 15th hole so surprising and so important. For the day, he made a little more than 50 feet worth of putts, which means that one-third of his total distance of putts made came on the 15th.

ShotLink data was only available on the Palmer Course at the Humana Challenge, but a look at the difference between Reed’s opening 63 on the Palmer Course and his final round is instructive.

Patrick Reed on the Palmer Course at the Humana Challenge

Day Avg. distance of putts made Putts from more than 5 1/2 feet Strokes gained-putting
Thursday 7 feet, 4 inches 10 +5.625
Sunday 2 feet, 10 inches 1 -2.073

With ShotLink data unavailable at the Nicklaus and La Quinta courses, we have to look at conventional statistics to see how well he putted in Rounds 2 and 3. It also offers another difference between Reed’s early rounds and his Sunday play.On Thursday, Reed made six putts in 10 attempts from 10-25 feet. On Sunday he made just one of seven.

Patrick Reed’s number of putts per round

Day Total Putts No-Putts One-Putts Two-Putts Three-Putts
Thursday 25 0 11 7 0
Friday 26 0 10 8 0
Saturday 24 1 10 7 0
Sunday 32 0 4 14 0
Total 107 1 35 36 0

Reed was in double digits in one-putt holes in each of the first three rounds. It helped him to three consecutive 63s, and resulted in the lowest first-round score of his career, the lowest third-round score of his career, and it tied his career best in the second round.

It was the third time in his career Reed had three rounds of 60 in the same week. Of course, he didn’t follow with another low round Sunday. His 1-under 71 not only kept Reed from scoring in the 60s in all four rounds for the first time in his PGA Tour career, it also marked a rare round of 70 or higher for a winner at the Humana.

Humana Challenge winners with a round in the 70s since 2000

2014 Patrick Reed 71 Fourth Round
2008 D.J. Trahan 70 Fourth Round
2007 Charley Hoffman 70, 71 Second, Fifth Rounds
2006 Chad Campbell 71 Fifth Round
2002 Phil Mickelson 70 Third Round

Finally, according to the Tour, Reed is the first player to hold the outright lead every day of the Humana since Rik Massengale in 1977. It was a five-round tournament back then. If the Humana were a five-round event this year, Reed might not have hung on to win.

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x