Stat attack!: Barclays review


In one way, it’s fitting that Hunter Mahan won the Barclays. Entering this week, Mahan was the only player who had played in every one of the PGA Tour’s playoff tournaments since the start of the FedEx Cup series in 2007. He hadn’t fared extremely well in any of them, with the exception of a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship in 2011. You could say he was due. 

Hunter Mahan in the PGA Tour’s playoff events

 Tournament 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
 Barclays T-17 T-31 T-20 T-31 T-43 MC T-25 Won
 Deutsche Bank MC T-15 T-36 T-33 T-8 T-39 T-13  
 BMW Champ. T-30 T-8 T-38 T-37 T-42 70 T-4  
 Tour Champ. T-5 T-17 24 T-15 2 T-8 T-20  

At Ridgewood CC, Mahan shot a final-round 65 to beat Stuart Appleby, Jason Day and Cameron Tringale by two strokes. He led the field in greens in regulation and all-around rank, and during his 6-under final round, Mahan didn’t miss a putt from less than 15 feet.

He’s the sixth player to win in 2013-14 while leading the field in GIR, and he’s the seventh player since the U.S. Open to win while leading the field in all-around rank (a common occurrance because the all-around rank includes scoring average).

The Tour’s traditional statistics have taken a back seat in recent years to the glossier computer-friendly stats – golf doesn’t yet have a term akin to baseball’s sabermetrics – but Mahan showed that success in all the basic facets of the game is still worth the practice time.

At the Barclays, Mahan tallied 118 all-around points in the stat that combines a player’s rank in eight traditional categories, including driving distance and accuracy, greens in regulation, putting average, birdies per round, eagles, sand saves and scoring average.

Recent PGA Tour winners who also led the field in all-around rank

 Player Tournament
 Hunter Mahan Barclays
 Camilo Villegas Wyndham Championship
 Rory McIlroy PGA Championship
 Tim Clark RBC Canadian Open
 Brian Harman John Deere Classic
 Angel Cabrera Greenbrier Classic 
 Martin Kaymer U.S. Open

Mahan hit 58 greens in regulation at Ridgewood CC, three more than runner-up Bo Van Pelt. He’s the sixth GIR leader to win the tournament in 2013-14.

PGA Tour winners in 2013-14 who also led the field in GIR

 Player Tournament
 Hunter Mahan Barclays
 Rory McIlroy WGC-Bridgestone
 Brian Harman John Deere Classic
 Angel Cabrera Greenbrier Classic
 Matt Kuchar RBC Heritage
 Dustin Johnson  WGC-HSBC Champions

Mahan’s success in the all-around ranking goes beyond making birdies and leading the tournament in scoring average. It’s something he has done all year long.

He ranks among the top 50 players on Tour in 2013-14 in driving distance, accuracy, greens in regulation, scoring average and all-around rank. Only Kevin Chappell also ranks in the top 50 in all five stats and only Shawn Stefani ranks in the top 65 in the five categories.

Players in the top 60 in distance, accuracy, GIR, scoring and all-around rank

 Player Distance rank Accuracy rank GIR rank Scoring avg. rank All-around rank
46 42 28 42 35
45 40 32 48 10
29 47 63 47 38

Mahan is the only one of the three players to win this year, but all three have had solid seasons and remain alive in the chase for the FedEx Cup.

Stefani, a second-year player was T-30 at the Barclays and is 67th in the FedEx Cup standings in his second year on Tour.

Chappell is 61st in the Cup chase after also finishing T-30 at Ridgewood.

As for Mahan, the victory culminates a solid three-tournament run that saw him finish T-15 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and T-7 at the PGA Championship. He’s one of four players who finished in the top 10 at Valhalla and at Ridgewood.

How the top-10 finishers at the PGA Championship* fared at the Barclays

 Player PGA finish Barclays finish
 Rory McIlroy Won T-22
 Phil Mickelson T-2 78
 Rickie Fowler T-3 T-9
 Henrik Stenson T-3 T-38
 Jim Furyk T-5 8
 Ryan Palmer T-5 T-74
 Ernie Els T-7 T-5
 Hunter Mahan T-7 Won
 Jimmy Walker T-7 MC

*Only those who played both events are listed.

The victory moves Mahan atop the new FedEx Cup standings, and would seemingly give him a leg up on securing the Cup for the first time. However, only Vijay Singh in 2008 has won the Barclays and then gone on to win the FedEx Cup as well.

How the Barclays winner has fared in the FedEx Cup

 Year Player FedEx Cup finish
 2014 Hunter Mahan  
 2013 Adam Scott Third
 2012 Nick Watney Fourth
 2011 Dustin Johnson Fourth
 2010 Matt Kuchar Second
 2009 Heath Slocum Eighth
 2008 Vijay Singh Won
 2007 Steve Stricker Second

Mahan’s success led to another final-round disappointment for Jim Furyk, who lost for the eighth straight time after holding or sharing the 54-hole lead.

Jim Furyk with the 54-hole lead or co-lead since 2012

 Tournament Final-round score Finish
 2014 Barclays 70 8
 2014 Canadian Open 69 2
 2013 BMW Championship 71 3
 2013 PGA Championship 71 2
 2012 McGladrey  69 3
 2012 WGC-Bridgestone 69 2
 2012 U.S. Open 74 T-4
 2012 Transitions 69 Playoff loss

As with Sunday, he hasn’t always played poorly during the final round, his scoring average in those eight events is a very respectable 70.25. However the winner of the eight tournaments played to an average of 65.1, including Mahan’s 65 Sunday and Tim Clark’s 65 at the Canadian Open a month earlier.

Furyk has qualified for the Tour Championship six times in the seven years of the playoffs, and he should advance that far again in 2014, giving him three more chances to end his victory drought. Where did Furyk win last? The Tour Championship at East Lake in 2010.