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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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

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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.

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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.

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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.