Stat attack!: McGladrey Classic review

By John AntoniniOctober 27, 2014, 1:16 am

While watching the playoff at the McGladrey Classic, I began to wonder whether, Robert Streb, who had the best final round among the three playoff competitors, had the edge in the upcoming overtime. Streb, who shot 63 Sunday (compared to 65 for Brendon de Jonge and 68 for Will MacKenzie), would have appeared to have the momentum entering the extra session because he played so well in regulation. But he had to wait more than an hour for the rest of the field to finish the final round before he began the playoff. Would there be a carry-over effect from his low score?

That Streb won with a birdie on the second extra hole made me think I was onto something, so I checked all the playoffs on the PGA Tour from 2011 to 2014. In that time, the playoff winner did indeed shoot the lowest final round more often than not, with the winner having the better Sunday on 23 of the 37 playoffs where one playoff participant had a better score than his opponents (playoffs where two or more participants tied during the final round were not considered).

It also reversed a trend from last season, as only one playoff winner in 2013-14 had the lowest score on Sunday – Matt Jones, who shot 66 in Houston, then beat Matt Kuchar in extra holes. 

But truth be told, why Streb was able win Sunday at the McGladrey Classic had more to do with his putting than any momentum gained from his final-round 63. Streb needed just 113 putts at Sea Island’s Seaside course, tied for the fewest in the field, and he ranked second in putts per GIR. He didn’t miss a putt from less than five feet – including his playoff winner for birdie on the second extra hole – and was 62-for-66 from 10 feet or less. Streb improved his putting in every putting stat listed below at the McGladrey compared to last season.

Robert Streb’s rank in putting stats at the McGladrey Classic

 Statistic McGladrey rank Streb's 2014 rank
 Putts per Round  T-1 (28.25) T-69 (28.87)
 Putts per GIR 2 ( 1.642) T-68 (1.766)
 Strokes gained/putting 2 (1.691) 75 (.117)
 Putting from less than 10 feet T-6 (93.94%) T-145 (86.18%)
 One-putt percentage T-1 (45.83%) T-63 (40.06%)

Personal best

Streb’s great putting led him to a career-best 63 Sunday, including four birdies on his last five holes, aided by a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and a 33 footer on the next hole. It led to his first victory in just his 49th PGA Tour start.

Robert Streb’s career best rounds

 Score Tournament Finish
 63 Fourth round, 2014 McGladrey Classic Won playoff
 64 Fourth round, 2013 Humana Challenge T-14
 65 First round, 2013 Honda Classic T-18
 65 Second round, 2013 Puerto Rico Open T-11
 65 Third round, 2013 John Deere Classic T-22
 65 First round, 2014 John Deere Classic T-37

Number of starts needed for first-time PGA Tour winners since 2013-14 to get their first victory

 Player First win Starts needed
 Chesson Hadley 2014 McGladrey Classic 13
 Hideki Matsuyama 2014 Puerto Rico Open 26
 Robert Streb 2014 McGladrey Classic 49
 Ben Martin 2014 Open 56
 Brendon Todd 2014 HP Byron Nelson Champ.       77
 Seung-Yul Noh 2014 Zurich Classic 78
 Brian Harman 2014 John Deere Classic 88
 Matt Every 2014 Arnold Palmer Inv. 93
Steven Bowditch 2014 Valero Texas Open 110
 Matt Jones 2014 Shell Houston Open 156
 Jimmy Walker 2013 Open 188
 Kevin Stadler 2014 WM Phoenix Open 239

Sunday smoke

Streb is the third player in the past year to shoot 63 in the final round and win, joining Jimmy Walker at the Sony Open and Camilo Villegas at the Wyndham Championship. They are among the six players who shot that low and won in the last two years.

Lowest final-round score by a PGA Tour winner: 2013-2014

 Player Score Tournament
 Robert Streb 63 2014 McGladrey Classic
 Jimmy Walker 63 2014 Sony Open
 Camilo Villegas 63 2014 Wyndham Championship
 Martin Laird 63 2013 Valero Texas Open
 Brian Gay 63 2013 Humana Challenge
 Russell Henley 63 2013 Sony Open

Heartache again

The McGladrey was another close call for Brendon de Jonge, who has played 212 events in his PGA Tour career and has earned more than $9.9 million, yet hasn’t won. De Jonge, who played on the International Presidents Cup in 2013, has 25 top-10 finishes and was also second at the 2012 Las Vegas event. He is 145th on the PGA Tour’s all-time money list, sixth among those without a victory.

The most money won on the PGA Tour without a victory

 Player Career money rank Earnings
 Briny Baird 106 $13,251,178
 Brain Davis 111 12,621,269
 Jeff Overton  122 11,866,149
 Brett Quigley 133 11,058,693
 Charlie Wi 144 9,930,397
 Brendon de Jonge 145 9,921,659

Brendon de Jonge’s close calls

 Tournament Finish Note
 2014 McGladrey Classic T-2 Lost playoff to Robert Streb
 2012 Las Vegas 2 Lost by one to Ryan Moore despite opening with a 62
 2010 Viking Classic T-3 Tied for the lead after 36 holes, but finished 73-72
 2012 AT&T National T-11 Held the 54-hole lead but shot 77 to fall to T-11

Sweet Georgia

None of the playoff participants at the McGladrey Classic have ties to the state of Georgia, but a trio of Georgia Bulldogs - Kevin Kisner, Chris Kirk and Russell Henley - finished tied for fourth. It’s the second straight year at least three players with a Georgia background finished in the top 10 at the McGladrey.

Top-10 finishers at the McGladrey Classic with Georgia ties: 2013-2014

 Player Finish Georgia tie
 Kevin Kisner T-4 in 2014 Attended Georgia
 Chris Kirk T-4 in 2014, Won in 2013 Attended Georgia, lives in Atlanta
 Russell Henley T-4 in 2014 Born in Macon, attended Georgia
 Scott Brown T-4 in 2013 Born in Augusta
 Brian Harman T-10 in 2013 Born in Savannah, attended Georgia
 Matt Kuchar T-7 in 2013 Attended Ga. Tech, lives in Sea Island
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry