Stat attack!: Valspar Championship review

By John AntoniniMarch 17, 2014, 1:24 am

The recipe for success at PGA Tour events is a simple one. Hit your approach shots close to the pin and make the putts. John Senden was able to do just that at the Valspar Championship, finishing sixth in the field in proximity to the hole on approaches and third in the field in distance of putts made. That combination lifted him to a seven-under 277 at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, one shot better than Kevin Na. Senden, who last won on Tour at the 2006 John Deere Classic, went 205 starts between victories. It is one of the longest spans between the first and second win for an active PGA Tour player .

Most starts between first and second wins among active PGA Tour players


Player First win Second win
 274 Woody Austin 1993 Buick Open 2004 Buick Championship
 246  Paul Goydos 1996 Bay Hill 2007 Sony Open
 205 John Senden 2006 John Deere 2014 Valspar Championship
 184 Cameron Beckman 2001 SFB Classic 2008 Open
 177 J.J. Henry 2006 Buick Championship 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open

Senden’s distance to the pin on approach shots was 30 feet, 10 inches for the week, sixth best in the field. Entering the tournament he was tied for 114th on the PGA Tour in that category. Not surprisingly, he nailed his approaches on Saturday, averaging less than 23 feet from the hole during a third-round 64 that moved him from T-35 to third. 

Senden’s proximity to hole per round at Tampa

 Round Distance to pin Score Birdies
 1 37 ft., 9 in. 72 2
 2 23 ft., 3 in. 71 3
 3 22 ft., 9 in. 64 7
 4 39 ft., 6 in. 70 5
 Total 30 ft., 10 in. 277 17

As mentioned, Senden made the most of moving day. His third-round 64 is tied for the third-best Saturday score by a winner in 2013-14.

Best third-round scores by a winner on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Score Player Tournament Climb on leader board
 62 Jimmy Walker Open T-28 to fourth
 63 Patrick Reed Humana Challenge Remained first
 64 John Senden Valspar Championship T-35 to third
 64 Bubba Watson Northern Trust Open T-40 to T-6
 66 Dustin Johnson HSBC Champions Remained first

Senden made 10 putts of 10 feet or longer at the Copperhead course, including three from more than 25 feet. In addition to being third in distance of putts made, he was third in greens in regulation with 54. It’s the second-most greens he has hit all year.

John Senden’s key stats at the Valspar Championship

  GIR percentage (rank) Proximity to hole (rank) Distance of putts made (rank)
 Valspar 72.22% (3) 30 ft. 10 in. (6) 89 ft. 8 in. (3)
 the week
70.03% (T-37) 36 ft., 10 in (T-114) 78 ft. 11 in. (18)

Senden, who turns 43 on April 20 (one week after the Sunday of the Masters, for which this win qualifies him), is the oldest winner on tour this season by nearly five years.

Oldest PGA Tour winners in 2013-14

 Player Tournament Age at time of win
 John Senden Valspar Championship 42
 Zach Johnson Hyundai T of C 37
 Bubba Watson Northern Trust 35
 Jimmy Walker AT&T Pebble Beach 35
 Kevin Stadler Waste Management 32

As well as things went for Senden on Sunday, they went just as badly for Robert Garrigus. The 54-hole leader made two double bogeys and a bogey in his first six holes to finish with a 75 and a tie for fourth. It’s the fourth time he has held at least a share of the lead through 54 holes of a PGA Tour event. He has not won in any of those tournaments, although two of those losses came in playoffs.

Robert Garrigus with the 54-hole lead

 Tournament Final-round score Finish
 2014 Valspar 75 T-4
 2012 Canadian 70 T-2
 2011 Hyundai T of C 67 2 (lost playoff)
 2010 FedEx St. Jude 71 2 (lost playoff)

Garrigus’ troubles were not uncommon on the Copperhead Course Sunday. There were only eight rounds in the 60s and the field averaged 72.973 strokes Sunday. It was the third-highest Sunday scoring average on tour this season.

Highest final-round scoring averages in 2013-14

 Event Course Average
 CIMB Classic Kuala Lumpur G&CC 73.026
 WGC-Cadillac Doral Blue Monster 73.015
 Valspar Innsibrook Copperhead 72.973
 AT&T Pebble Beach Pebble Beach GL 72.857
 Farmers Insurance Torrey Pines South 72.370


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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.

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Plenty of good – and bad – in Tiger's missed cut

By Rex HoggardFebruary 17, 2018, 3:10 am

LOS ANGELES – Do you want the good news or the bad?

Actually, having any good news to report when it comes to Tiger Woods is something of a sea change after a tumultuous few years for the 14-time major champion both on and off the golf course, so let’s start there.

Right about the time Woods began his round of birdie-bogey bingo on Day 2 at the Genesis Open, news broke that he’d signed to play next week’s Honda Classic.

The annual South Florida PGA Tour stop may be just a short drive from the Woods compound, but his commitment to play PGA National is very much a reason for optimism.

It marks, after all, the first time Woods has played consecutive weeks on Tour since 2015 when he went from the PGA Championship  where he missed the cut  to the Wyndham Championship, site of his last top-10 (T-10) on Tour. Last year, when he attempted to go back-to-back from the Farmers Insurance Open to the Dubai Desert Classic, came to a woeful end when he withdrew after just a single round with an ailing back.

“I'm very pleased. I'm very excited about it,” Woods said as darkness settled Friday over Riviera Country Club. “I wish I would have two more competitive rounds to head into next week, but that's not the case. But I get a chance to do some work and I'll go do some work.”

Throughout this entire process, which began last April when he had fusion surgery on his lower back, Woods has talked of benchmarks and protocols. He has, by all accounts, been a model patient, following doctor’s orders and easing his way back into the competitive fray.

As late as Tuesday, Woods was coy when asked about whether he would play the Honda Classic, figuring it would be a “great” sign if he did play, but adding it would be a “smart” sign if he didn’t.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Although the late Yogi Berra would probably applaud Woods’ misdirection, his point was valid. He’s never been real keen on announcing his schedule in advance, and that’s particularly evident and prudent now that his competitive fortunes are dictated by the whims of his surgically repaired back.

But on Friday as Woods was setting out for his round, he offered the most telling assessment yet that his health, which for so long has left him perched on the edge between continued greatness and competitive irrelevance, is no longer an issue.

“I'm both pleased and also not very happy with some parts of it,” he said. “It's nice to be back competing again and to be able to go out there and play, practice after each round. That's been nice, something I haven't done in years.”

And now the bad.

Woods began the day at Riviera teetering on the cut line at 1 over, played his opening loop in 2 over par to drift further back and closed his day, and week, with a 5-over 76 and a 6-over total to miss the cut by five strokes.

There is no shortage of culprits on this front.

He struggled off the tee. He struggled with his irons. And on Friday he struggled with his short game, which had been the rock his comeback had rested on until now.

He was once again plagued by the wild miss off the tee, hitting just 13 of 28 fairways for two days with a tee ball that offended equally, sailing right four times and left seven. So much for that “stout” new shaft.

But if his tee ball became public enemy No. 1, his iron play may have been worse with Woods finding a pedestrian 16 of 36 greens in regulation. That’s the fewest greens for Tiger through two rounds in a Tour event as a professional.

“I would say he's a pretty good ways away,” figured Justin Thomas, who may need to find another ride home after flying out to Los Angeles on Air Tiger. “He's obviously not driving it well, he's not hitting the shots that he wants to. Probably the distance control isn't quite there.”

Thomas was quick to point out that despite Woods’ struggles he continued to fight like few can, at least on Thursday when he turned what probably should have been a 75 into a 72. On Friday, the magic ran out.

Woods’ abbreviated week in Los Angeles began with a lost ball in a eucalyptus tree and ended with his surprising loss of touch on the greens.

He missed par attempts from 13 (No. 9), 4 1/2 (No. 11), 5 1/2 (No. 12) and 6 1/2 (No. 16) feet on Day 2, the final three miscues marking his first three three-putts of the week. That deft touch that had secured him weekend tee times last month at Torrey Pines and kept his round on Day 1 at the Genesis Open from becoming ugly, had vanished.

“The feeling of not feeling very good over my putts finally caught up with me,” Woods said.

Woods has a few days to think about those feelings, and he’ll spend the weekend fulfilling his host duties at Riviera before heading home for next week’s Honda Classic.

He understood as well as anyone that it was always going to be this way following so many years of false starts and relapses, but the difference now is that there’s some good news to go along with the bad.