Stat attack!: U.S. Open review

By John AntoniniJune 16, 2014, 1:03 am

Martin Kaymer was so dominant in the flagship events of the PGA Tour and the U.S. Golf Association that the Royal & Ancient GC is considering awarding him the first- and second-round lead at the British Open.

Well, maybe not, but Kaymer’s performances at the Players and the U.S. Open were truly dominant. He became the first player to win both events in the same year, and he did so while leading after every round (he only shared the lead once, after three rounds at the Players with Jordan Spieth).

Wire-to-wire winners in the U.S. Open (no ties)

 Year Player Course
 2014 Martin Kaymer Pinehurst No. 2
 2011 Rory McIlroy Congressional
 2002 Tiger Woods Bethpage Black
 2000 Tiger Woods Pebble Beach
 1970 Tony Jacklin Hazeltine National
 1953 Ben Hogan Oakmont
 1921 James Barnes Columbia
 1914 Walter Hagen Midlothian

Kaymer shot a final-round 69 at Pinehurst to finish at 9-under 271. He won by eight strokes, the fourth-largest margin of victory in tournament history. He became the first player in U.S. Open history to shoot two 65s in the same tournament, and the fifth player since 1970 to have two 65s or better in any U.S. Open. Kaymer, Keegan Bradley and Brendon Todd are the eighth, ninth and 10th players since 2000 to have three rounds in the 60s in the same U.S. Open.

Largest margin of victory in the U.S. Open

 Margin Player
 15 Tiger Woods, 2000
 11 Willie Smith, 1899
 9 James Barnes, 1921
 8 Martin Kaymer, 2014
 8 Rory McIlroy, 2011

Most 65s or better in the U.S. Open since 1970

 65s or better Player Years (round)
 2 Martin Kaymer 2014 (rds. 1 and 2)
 2 Colin Montgomerie 1994 (rd. 2), 1997 (rd. 1)
 2 Lanny Wadkins 1973 (rd. 4), 1986 (rd. 4)
 2 Tom Watson 1987 (rd. 2), 2003 (rd. 1)
 2 Vijay Singh 2001 (rd. 4), 2003 (rd. 2)

Most rounds in the 60s at the same U.S. Open: 2000-2014

 60s Player Year Scores
 4  Rory McIlroy 2011 65-66-68-69
 3 Martin Kaymer 2014 65-65-72-69
 3 Keegan Bradley 2014 69-69-76-67
 3 Brendon Todd 2014 69-67-79-69
 3 Kevin Chappell 2011 76-67-69-66
 3 Tiger Woods 2009 74-69-68-69
 3 Jim Furyk 2003 67-66-67-72
 3 Stephen Leaney 2003 67-68-68-72
 3 Stewart Cink 2001 69-69-67-72
 3 Tiger Woods 2000 65-69-71-67

Kaymer’s final-round 69 allowed him to finish at 9 under par, the third-lowest score in relation to par in U.S. Open history. Only Woods and McIlroy, during their historic performances earlier this century, were better. A tale of the tape shows that Kaymer hit more fairways than Rory and Tiger and matched Woods for fewest putts, but the German hit fewer greens and made fewer birdies than the others.

Lowest score in relation to par in U.S. Open history.

 Score   Player
 16 under  Rory McIlroy, Congressional, 2011
 12 under   Tiger Woods, Pebble Beach, 2000
 9 under   Martin Kaymer, Pinehurst No. 2, 2014

Comparison of Kaymer, McIlroy and Woods

  2014 Kaymer 2011 McIlroy 2000 Woods
 To par 9 under 16 under 12 under
 Margin of victory 8 8 15
 Birdies/bogeys 17/9* 20/4* 21/6
 Fairways hit 43 36 41
 Greens in reg. 45 62 51
 Total putts 110 119 110
  *Includes one eagle *Includes an eagle
and double bogey

Kaymer was seventh in the field in driving distance, T-9 in fairways hit, T-18 in greens and first in putts per GIR. Kaymer’s game from tee to green was so spot-on that he was one fairway hit away from becoming the first U.S. Open winner since the four stats began to be kept in 1986 to finish in the top 10 in all of them. Only five other winners were in the top 20 in all four stats.

U.S. Open champions who were in the top 20 the four major stats

 Year Player Distance rank Fairways rank GIR rank Putting avg. rank
 2014 Martin Kaymer 7 T-9 T-18 1
 2013 Justin Rose 15 T-2 T-7 15
 2009 Lucas Glover 8 T-13 4 4
 2004 Retief Goosen T-5 T-12 T-9 T-10
 2001 Retief Goosen T-17 T-15 T-4 19
 2000 Tiger Woods 1 T-14 1 2

It was a special week for Kaymer, but it was equally important to Erik Compton. The co-runner-up at the U.S. Open had his best finish on the PGA Tour. The second-place finish gets him into the Masters – which he didn’t know until he was being interviewed by NBC after his round - and likely puts him on the career path toward his first Tour victory. Since 1970 only six players have finished second at the U.S. Open and not won on the PGA Tour. Three of those golfers – Havret, Montgomerie and Jimenez - were not PGA Tour members.

U.S. Open runners-up since 1970 who never won on the PGA Tour

 Year Player
 2014 Erik Compton
 2010 Gregory Havret
 2009 Ricky Barnes
 2006, 1994 Colin Montgomerie
 2003 Stephen Leaney
 2000 Miguel Angel Jimenez

It was also an impressive week for Rickie Fowler, who shared second with Compton. Clad in his trademark orange during the final round, Fowler shot a Sunday 72 to become the only player to finish in the top five in both the Masters and U.S. Open in 2014 (Jimmy Walker was the only player to finish in the top 10 in both events.) Fowler is the fourth player in the last five years to finish in the top five in both majors

Top-five finishes in the Masters and U.S. Open: 2010-2014

 Year Player Masters U.S. Open
 2014 Rickie Fowler T-5 T-2
 2013 Jason Day 3 T-2
 2011 Jason Day T-2 T-2
 2010 Tiger Woods T-4 T-4
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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.