Stats Dont Nearly Tell Lukes Story

By George WhiteDecember 12, 2005, 5:00 pm
Hes a living, breathing example of just how misleading statistics can be. If all you had to go by were a roomful of stats, you would miss just about all of what makes Luke Donald so successful.
 
Donald won Tiger Woods tournament Sunday. That highlighted a most intriguing year in which Donald was 185th in driving length on tour this year, was 75th in fairways hit, was 83rd in putting ' and still was 17th in earnings with $2,480,562. He finished the year with the second longest consecutive cuts streak of 15.
 
How does he do it? He finishes tied for second in the Buick Invitational outside San Diego; he finishes tied for second in The Players after leading for three rounds, was tied for third at the Masters, tied for sixth at the WCG-NEC. In Europe, the 28-year-old Englishman tied for fourth at the European Masters, tied for third at the Volvo Masters.
 
Luke Donald
Luke Donald's bunker game was part of the reason for his success.
So - again - Just how did he do it? Well, an important clue comes from the greens-hit category. In that important statistic, he was 22nd. And when he didnt hit the green but instead landed in a greenside bunker, he was No. 1 in average distance after he exploded out. He averaged being just over seven feet away from the cup in all his sand shots.
 
And, he was No. 4 in scoring average. So there must have been a little moxie in there, too. He was rarely out of a hole.
 
And, he finally won on Sunday against one of the years stronger fields. That was eye-opening, even if it were only an exhibition.
 
I think it's just a nice feeling to know that I came here and beat a very, very strong field, Donald said. Sixteen of the top 20 players in the world were here. There are a few guys outside the top 20, but it was a very, very strong field, and that's a lot of satisfaction, to know that you can come here, play one bad round, even the first round, and still win.
 
Donald is something of a Renaissance man. A native of Hempstead, England, he went to university at Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb. He remained in Chicago after college when just about every other collegiate golfer was moving to sunny climates - though he has just bought a second home in Jupiter, Fla. Donald is an avid painter and majored in art theory and practice at Northwestern. One of his paintings was sold at auction and fetched $1,640.
 
But on the golf course, he is a get-down-in-the-dirt type of player. He grinds and grinds until he gets close to the top. And on occasion, he goes all the way to the top.
 
The fact that he hasnt gotten there before last week was getting to be a sore point with him. I've had a lot of tournaments where I've had a chance to win, he said, but I haven't. That was really the only frustrating part, really, just not quite closing the deal when I had a chance to win.

But, you know, I think I'm learning from those, and hopefully next year, once you win a couple times, it makes it a lot easier.
 
Of course, it didnt make it any easier that he couldnt get over the hump this year. He rose all the way to No. 14 in the world by the time the last world rankings were published, but he still had this nagging little thing to overcome ' he hadnt won. Until last week, that is.

It did bother me, said Donald. I mean, one of my goals was to win this year. You know, I'll definitely take this one. I would have loved to have won a regular tour event, but winning this is just as good.
 
The one that bothered me the most probably was The Players Championship. I think it was that one that obviously it was a tough final day (he shot 40 on the front side Sunday) with the weather and everything, and a few shots that I hit well ended up costing me. But I still had a good lead playing the final round and didn't win.
 
But here he is, a winner at last. And dont think those statistics of his are an indication of how he has played this year. He has played quite well, actually, and if last week was an indication, hes going to play better next year.
 
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.