Stat attack!: Zurich Classic of New Orleans review

By John AntoniniApril 28, 2014, 2:09 am

For Seung-Yul Noh, the Zurich Classic was a microcosm of his season and his career. The PGA Tour leader in bounce-back percentage, twice followed bogeys on Sunday’s back nine with birdies, the two subpar holes the difference in his two-stroke win at TPC Louisiana. The 22-year-old South Korean,who turned heads with wins as a teenager on the Asian and European Tours, now becomes the fifth player born in the 1990s to win on the PGA Tour. He did it with one of the year’s better performances on the par-4 holes to join a host of players to lift their initial trophy in New Orleans. 

Noh didn’t make a bogey during the first three rounds at the Zurich Classic, which means he didn’t have to test his bounce-back mettle. But when he bogeyed Nos. 12 and 15 down the stretch Sunday, he did what he has been doing all year. He kept his composure and made birdie, this time with his first Tour victory on the line. He made three bogeys at TPC Louisiana and birdied the next hole twice to improve his Tour-leading mark to 30.77 percent. Not since Dan Forsman in 2005 has someone finished the season with a bounce-back percentage better than 30 percent. 

2013-14 PGA Tour leaders in bounce-back percentage

 Rank Player Bounce-back percentage
 1 Seung-Yul Noh  30.77%
 2 Justin Rose 29.58
 3 Brooks Koepka 28.57
 4 Jamie Donaldson 28.33
 5 Ryan Palmer 27.52

The recovery birdies Sunday were enough to give Noh, at 19-under 269, a two-stroke win over Andrew Svoboda and Robert Streb, both of whom were also looking for their first PGA Tour title. Once Keegan Bradley took himself out of contention with a front-nine 39 – including a triple bogey on No. 6 – it became pretty clear that a first-time winner would capture the Zurich Classic for the sixth time in the nine years the tournament has been held at TPC Louisiana.

First-time PGA Tour winners at TPC Louisiana

 Year Zurich Classic winner Runner-up
 2014 Seung-Yul Noh Andrew Svoboda, Robert Streb
 2013 Billy Horschel D.A. Points
 2012 Jason Dufner Ernie Els
 2008 Andres Romero Peter Lonard
 2007 Nick Watney Ken Duke
 2005 Tim Petrovic James Driscoll

Svoboda and Streb, like Duke and Driscoll before them, would have to settle for second. Duke would eventually on the PGA Tour six years after his close call in New Orleans by taking the 2013 Travelers Championship. Driscoll, after 228 PGA Tour starts, is still looking for his maiden title. 

Jeff Overton, who finished fourth at Zurich, three strokes back of Noh, was also looking for his first Tour victory. The former Ryder Cup player now has five second-place finishes on tour, including a previous runner-up at New Orleans in 2010. All of the top-four finishers Sunday were atop the putting stats for the week. They were all in the top 15 in strokes gained/putting and three players were in the top five in scrambling and putting from outside 10 feet.

Zurich Classic leaders key statistics

 Player Scrambling (rank) Str. Gained/putting (rank) Putts from 10+ feet
 Seung-Yul Noh 87.50% (3) 1.065 (11) 11/40; 27.50% (3)
 Andrew Svoboda 88.89% (1) 1.859 (2) 9/44; 20.45 (22)
 Robert Streb 61.54% (T-34) .982 (14) 12/44; 27.27 (4)
 Jeff Overton 88.00% (2) 1.842 (3) 9/34; 26.47 (5)

Noh, who birdied 16 of 40 par-4 holes, out-performed his rivals on the medium-length holes, but all four leaders were among the tournament’s best performers on the two-shotters. Noh led the field in par-4 scoring and none of the top-four players made more than three bogeys on such holes all week. Noh’s birdie percentage of 40.00 percent was the fifth-best performance on Tour during the 2013-14 season.

Zurich Classic leaders on the par-4 holes

 Player Par-4 scoring
Zurich (rank)
Par-4 birdies/bogeys Zurich Par-4 scoring
season (rank)
3.68 (1) 16/3 4.01 (T-27)
3.85 (T-5) 9/3 4.01 (T-27)
3.75 (2) 13/3 3.95 (1)
3.85 (T-5) 8/2 3.99 (T-13)

Birdie percentage on par-4 holes in one tournament: 2013-14 season

 Par-4 birdie pct. Player Tournament
 42.50% (17 of 40) Dustin Johnson WGC-HSBC Champions
 41.67% (15 of 36) Patrick Reed Humana Challenge
 40.91 (18 of 44) Kevin Streelman Hyundai T of C
 40.00 (16 of 40) Seung-Yul Noh Zurich Classic
 38.64 (17 of 44) Jason Bohn Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

That Noh was able to win on the PGA Tour one month before his 23rd birthday was not a surprise. He’s won just about everywhere he has played, now counting victories at a young age on four different tours. When he won the 2010 Maybank Malaysia Open at age 18 years, 282 days he became, at the time, the second-youngest winner in European Tour history. He also won the Korean Amateur at age 14.

Seung-Yul Noh’s career victories

 Tournament Tour Age
 2014 Zurich Classic  PGA Tour 22
 2013 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Champ. Tour 22
 2010 Maybank Malaysian Open European Tour 18
 2008 Midea China Classic  Asian Tour 17

Noh, born May 29, 1991, is the fifth player born in the 1990s with a PGA Tour victory, joining Derek Ernst, John Huh, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth. But many players born in that decade have already made an impact on the Tour and should qualify for the PGA Tour Playoffs this fall.

PGA Tour players born in the 1990s in the top 144 on the FedEx Cup standings

 Player Birthday Age 2013-14 FedEx Cup rank
 Patrick Reed August 5, 1990 23 4
 Jordan Spieth July 27, 1993 20 7
 Seung-Yul Noh May 29, 1991 22 16
 Ryo Ishikawa September 17, 1991 22 29
 Hideki Matsuyama February 25, 1992 22 55
 Luke Guthrie January 31, 1990 24 80
 John Huh May 21, 1990 23 87
 Danny Lee July 24, 1990 23 92

Brooks Koepka, born in 1990, will join this list at 89th once he accepts special temporary membership on the PGA Tour for the rest of the year. Koepka finished T-21 at New Orleans to earn enough unofficial FedEx Cup points as a non-member to be offered the special tour card.




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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.