Stat attack!: Stats of the Year for 2014

By John AntoniniDecember 16, 2014, 7:08 pm

The 2014 golf season had its share of memorable moments, many of them being chronicled by Golf Channel as we count down the year’s top newsmakers. But crunching the numbers for this season revealed many interesting tidbits worth sharing. From Rory McIlroy to Bernhard Langer to Tiger Woods – yes, Tiger Woods - here is a look at the Stat Attack’s top statistical nuggets for 2014.

Putting for dough

Rory McIlroy’s getting most of the year-end honors for 2014 and the accolades are well deserved. He laid the groundwork for his historic season on the greens. Although he was only 41st in strokes gained/putting, McIlroy led the PGA Tour in putting average, birdie or better conversion percentage and birdies per round. His 2013-14 ranking in all three of those stats is among the five best single-season marks in Tour history.

Of course, PGA Tour history is quite modern. The Tour's Stat Database monitors birdie conversion percentage since 1980, putting average since 1986 and birdies per round since 1996.

PGA Tour single-season leaders in birdie or better percentage 

 Player Birdie Pct. Year
 Bob Heintz 36.98% 2002
 Rory McIlroy 36.84 2014
 Tiger Woods 36.56 2005
 Phil Mickelson 36.42 2001
 Tiger Woods 36.14 2000

PGA Tour single-season leaders in birdies per round

 Player Birdies per round Year
 Tiger Woods 4.92 2000
 Tiger Woods 4.65 2006
 Rory McIlroy 4.58 2014
 Tiger Woods 4.57 2005
 Phil Mickelson 4.54 2001

PGA Tour single-season leaders in putts per GIR

 Player Putts per GIR Year
 Bob Heintz 1.682 2002
 Luke Donald 1.700 2011
 David Toms 1.704 2002
 Brad Faxon 1.704 2000
 Rory McIlroy  1.707500 2014
 Jim Furyk 1.707506 1995
 David Frost 1.708 2001

Tiger is No. 1

Strange as it might sound, Tiger Woods led the PGA Tour in something positive in 2013-14. He made the PGA Tour’s longest putt last season at 91 feet, seven inches, on the fourth hole in the second round of the WGC-Cadillac Invitational. At the time, he was so much more concerned with his back, which caused him to withdraw from the Honda Classic one week earlier, that the putt was barely mentioned in his post-round press conference.

Longest putts on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Player Putt length Tournament (hole, round)
 Tiger Woods 91 ft.,
7 in. 
WGC-Cadillac (fourth hole, second round)
 Jeff Overton 76 ft.,
10 in.
Deutsche Bank (ninth hole, first round)
 Ryan Palmer 76 ft. 6 in. HP Byron Nelson (fourth hole, first round)
76 ft. 1 in. Wells Fargo (17th hole, fourth round)
 Jonathan Byrd 75 ft.
10 in.
Wells Fargo (18 hole, first round)

Getting better all the time

Jimmy Walker’s outstanding 2013-14, in which he won three times and was fourth on the PGA Tour in earnings, is the highlight of a career that has seen him improve his rank on the money list for seven straight years.

Jimmy Walker money rank since 2008

 Year Money rank Earnings
 2014 4 $5,787,016
 2013  30 2,117,570
 2012 48 1,638,419
 2011 67 1,336,556
 2010  103 937,987
 2009 125 662,683
 2008 185 282,249

Bunting to victory

Tim Clark, winner of the Bell Canadian Open, finished the 2013-14 season with a driving distance of 272.2 yards, 174th of 177 players who qualified for a ranking. Clark was the shortest hitter among PGA Tour winners, and was one of just seven players outside the top 100 in distance to win last season. 

PGA Tour winners in 2013-14 who ranked outside the top 100 in driving distance

 Player Driving distance Rank 2014 victory
 Tim Clark  272.2 174 Bell Canadian Open
 Ben Crane 279.0 157 FedEx St. Jude Classic
 Brendon Todd 280.3 T-148 HP Byron Nelson Champ.
 Zach Johnson 282.2 T-141 Hyundai T of C
 Matt Kuchar 283.8 136 RBC Heritage
 Ryan Moore  284.7 129 CIMB Classic
 Matt Every 286.3 116 Arnold Palmer Inv.

Lefty’s lament

Phil Mickelson had arguably his worst season since joining the PGA Tour midway through 1992. The 2013-14 campaign was his first without a victory since 2003, and he failed to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time in the FedEx Cup era. Although Mickelson finished 35th in scoring average at 70.278, it was his highest mark since 1998 and his worst rank since 1995. It is a testament to the greatness of Mickelson’s career that this was only the third time he was outside the Tour’s top 30 in scoring.

Phil Mickelson’s highest single-season scoring average

 Year Scoring average Rank
 1993 71.205 T-90
 1995  70.592 44
 1998 70.280 27
 2014 70.278 35
 2003 70.249 26
 1996 70.228 16
 2009 70.218 28

Working on the weekend

When Paula Creamer missed the cut at the LPGA’s Kingsmill event in May, it ended her streak of consecutive cuts made at 74. The longest cuts-made streak on Tour now belongs to Lydia Ko, who played on the weekend in all 26 of her starts in 2014 and hasn’t missed a cut in 42 LPGA appearances as a professional or an amateur. (Adam Scott is the current PGA Tour leader in consecutive cuts made with 44.)

Longest current streak of consecutive cuts made on the LPGA Tour

 Player Consecutive cuts 2014 total
 Lydia Ko 42 26
 Stacy Lewis 35 28
 Shanshan Feng 31 24

The LPGA’s green machines

Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist led the LPGA in greens in regulation in 2014 at 77.1 percent. Unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA’s website does not give a breakdown of how many greens were hit and how many attempts were taken, so we cannot break the tie. We can say, however, that the two players hit more greens in one year than any player since Annika Sorenstam.

Lowest single-season GIR on the LPGA since 2000

 Player GIR percentage Year
 Annika Sorenstam 79.7 2001
 Annika Sorenstam 79.7 2002
 Annika Sorenstam 78.8 2004
 Annika Sorenstam 77.2 2005
 Suzann Pettersen 77.1 2014
 Anna Nordqvist 77.1 2014

The cash man

Bernhard Langer was the second player in Champions Tour history to surpass $3 million in earnings, with his $3,074,189 breaking the old single-season record set by Hale Irwin in 2002. Langer also had highest percentage of potential money won – the quotient of his total earnings and what his earnings would have been had he won every event he played – of any Champions player this century. Langer cashed 46.13 percent of his potential earnings. Don January, the Tour’s all-time leader, won 67.06 percent of his potential earnings in 1983.

Single-season Champions Tour earnings

 Player Earnings Year
 Bernhard Langer $3,074,189 2014
 Hale Irwin 3,028,304 2002
 Hale Irwin 2,861,945 1998
 Larry Nelson 2,708,005 2000
 Bernhard Langer 2,648,939 2010

Highest percentage of potential money won on the Champions Tour: 2000-2014

 Player Pct. money won Year
 Bernhard Langer 46.13% 2014
 Fred Couples 45.74 2010
 Tom Watson 45.03 2003
 Hale Irwin 42.24 2002
 Larry Nelson 40.67 2000

The Mechanic keeps motoring

The oldest champion in European Tour history is Miguel Angel Jimenez, who was 50 years and 133 days old when he won the 2014 Spanish Open in May. He broke the record he set at the Hong Kong Open in December 2013, when he was one month shy of his 50th birthday. The previous record holder was, you guessed it, Jimenez, when he won the 2012 Hong Kong Open. Jimenez didn’t quite reach his goal of making the European Tour Ryder Cup team at age 50, but he did finish fourth at the Masters and 21st in the Race to Dubai standings, his 12th straight year in the top 30 on the money list. If he ever decides to take on Bernhard Langer, the Champions Tour might have its next $3 million man.

The oldest tournament winners in European Tour history

 Player Age Tournament
 Miguel Angel Jimenez 50 years, 133 days 2014 Spanish Open
 Miguel Angel Jimenez 49 years, 337 days 2013 Hong Kong Open
 Miguel Angel Jimenez 48 years, 318 days 2012 Hong Kong Open
 Des Smyth 48 years, 34 days 2001 Madeira Island Open
 Neil Coles 48 years, 14 days 1991 Sanyo Open

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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