Stat attack!: Deutsche Bank Championship preview

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Jim Furyk opened with a 5-under-66. (Getty Images)

While the rest of the golf world has been watching Rory McIlroy dominate the summer of 2014, I have been watching Jim Furyk. The PGA Tour veteran has done everything but win this season, and has been playing almost pretty noteworthy himself of late. In his last five events, Furyk has never finished worse than T-15 (WGC-Bridgestone), held two 54-hole leads only to fall back on Sunday despite shooting 69 and 70 in those two final rounds, and 19 of his last 20 rounds have been under par. He heads into this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, where he has never missed the cut, ranked sixth in the FedEx Cup standings and the Official World Golf Ranking. If anyone owns the definition of “being due,” it’s Furyk.

Jim Furyk’s last five PGA Tour starts

 Tournament Finish Scores Earnings
 Barclays 8 66-69-69-70--274 $248,000
 PGA Championship T-5 66-68-72-66--272 367,500
 WGC-Bridgestone T-15 69-68-69-69--275 97,500
 RBC Canadian Open 2 67-63-65-69--264    615,600
 British Open 4 68-71-71-65--275 478,380

Jim Furyk at the Deutsche Bank since the start of the PGA Tour Playoffs

 Year Finish
 2013 T-27
 2012 T-13
 2011 6
 2010 T-37
 2009 T-8
 2008 T-7
 2007 T-55

That Furyk hasn’t won since the 2010 Tour Championship is amazing given all he has accomplished. In the last three seasons, Furyk has finished second six times and third three times. He has had 24 top-10 finishes and earned more than $11 million, having recently gone over the $60 million mark for his career. The fact he has not won despite holding or sharing the 54-hole lead eight different times in the last three years is mind blowing at first glance, considering he has not played poorly on Sunday in many of those tournaments.

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

But a closer look at the scoring averages shows that Furyk hasn’t often taken advantage of opportunities that the rest of the field has capitalized on. Take this year’s two events for example. At the Barclays, Furyk’s final-round 70 looks good until it’s compared to the field average of 70.31. The final-round scoring average in Canada was 68.67 slightly lower than Furyk’s 69.

Jim Furyk compared to the field when he holds the 54-hole lead 

 Tournament Furyk's Sunday score Sunday field average Winner's score
 2014 Barclays 70 70.31 65 (Hunter Mahan)
 2014 Canadian Open 69 68.67 65 (Tim Clark)
 2013 BMW
 Championship
71 70.56 65 (Zach Johnson)
 2013 PGA
 Championship
71 70,.94 68 (Jason Dufner)
 2012 McGladrey  69 69.48 60 (Tommy Gainey)
 2012 WGC-Bridgestone 69 70.15 64 (Keegan Bradley)
 2012 U.S. Open 74 72.90 68 (Webb Simpson)
 2012 Transitions 69 70.48 66 (Luke Donald)

 

Furyk has shot in the 60s five times in those eight events and averaged 70.25 per round. The player who would go on to win averaged 65.1 in the final round (led by Tommy Gainey’s 60 at the 2012 McGladrey). Furyk shot better than the final-round average four times, but if you round to whole numbers he never beat the field average by more than a stroke. More often than not, Furyk was a field-average player on Sunday, while the tournament winner was at least three strokes better than the field every time. 

That seems unsustainable. Somewhere along the way, a player who is good enough to shoot 59 on a day when the field averages more than 71 (second round, 2013 BMW) is going to be able to substantially improve on the field with the tournament on the line. After all, Furyk held the 54-hole lead on three occassions in 2010 and won all three times.


Furyk isn’t the only player to have a history of success at the Deutsche Bank Championship. There are nine other players in this year’s field who have made five or more starts at TPC Boston and have never missed the cut. Only Jason Day (seventh, one spot behind Furyk) is ranked in the top 10 on the current FedEx Cup standings.

Players who have not missed the cut in five or more starts at the Deutsche Bank

 Player Starts Best finish FedEx rank
 Jason Bohn 5 Second in 2005 68
 Angel Cabrera 5 T-4 in 2009 45
 Jason Day 6 T-2 in 2010, T-3 in 2011 7
 Jim Furyk 9 Sixth in 2011 6
 Marc Leishman 5 T-15 in 2009 36
 Phil Mickelson 7 Won in 2007 57
 Adam Scott 9 Won in 2003, T-2 in 2004 16
 John Senden 10 Eighth in 2010 28
 Brandt Snedeker 7 T-3 in 2011 71
 Camilo Villegas 8 T-3 in 2008 49

FedEx rank coming into this week is important. Five of the seven Deutsche Bank winners in the Playoff era were ranked in the top 10 in FedEx points entering the week. Henrik Stenson, who won in 2013, had fallen out of the top 10, from ninth to 13th, the week prior to winning a year ago.

Rank of Deutsche Bank winner on the FedEx Cup standings

 Year Player Rank entering week
 2013 Henrik Stenson 13
 2012 Rory McIlroy 4
 2011 Webb Simpson 4
 2010 Charley Hoffman 59
 2009 Steve Stricker 2
 2008 Vijay Singh 1
 2007 Phil Mickelson 5

With that in mind, here’s a glance at the top 10 in this week’s standings and how they have fared at Boston

This week's FedEx Cup leaders at the Deutsche Bank Championship

 Player Deutsche Bank record
 Hunter Mahan T-8 in 2011 is his only top 10 in 11 starts
 Rory McIlroy He won in 2012, but was outside the top 35 two other times
 Jimmy Walker Two cuts in five starts, with a best of T-37 in 2011
 Matt Kuchar 10 starts, one top 10; a T-4 in 2013
 Bubba Watson Six cuts made in eight starts with a best of T-12 in pre-Playoff 2006 
 Jim Furyk Six starts, no missed cuts, two top threes
 Jason Day Six starts, no missed cuts, two top threes
 Patrick Reed T-70 in 2013 in his only appearance
 Jordan Spieth T-4 after a final-round 62 in 2013 in his only start
 Cameron Tringale Missed cut in 201 and 2012; T-67 in 2013

One final thought: In the seven years of the PGA Tour Playoffs, the Deutsche Bank winner has finished in the top 10 in the field in scrambling. The Tour’s 2013-14 leader in scrambling is, you guessed it, Jim Furyk at 71.10 percent. 

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