Chris Kirk won the Deutsche Bank Championship Monday with a score of 15-under 269. He shot 66-64-66 in the last three rounds to offset an opening 73, one of the highest scores for a winner on the PGA Tour in the last several years.
But an argument can be made that it was Kirk’s 73 that won him the tournament. On a Friday in which the Georgia Bulldog hit just seven greens in regulation, he scrambled his way to a 2-over score. Kirk was fourth in the field in scrambling – making par or better eight times in Round 1 after missing the green in regulation – and continues a trend where the Deutsche Bank winner takes advantage of opportunities after missing greens.
Highest winning first-round scores on the PGA Tour since 2010
|74||Justin Rose||2014 Quicken Loans National|
|73||Chris Kirk||2014 Deutsche Bank Championship|
|73||Kevin Streelman||2013 Tampa Bay Championship|
|73||Bill Lunde||2010 Turning Stone Championship|
Scrambling rank of Deutsche Bank Championship winner: 2007-2014
|2014||Chris Kirk||80.77% (4)|
|2013||Henrik Stenson||81.82% (T-6)|
|2012||Rory McIlroy||70.83% (10)|
|2011||Webb Simpson||76.00% (5)|
|2010||Charley Hoffman||82.35% (2)|
|2009||Steve Stricker||73.91% (10)|
|2008||Vijay Singh||76.92% (4)|
|2007||Phil Mickelson||86.36% (1)|
Every winner in the playoff era finished in the top 10 in scrambling at TPC Boston. The difference between Kirk and everyone else is that none of those winners shot a score as high as 73, or hit as few as seven greens in one round.
In fact, Stricker in 2009 was the only winner in that span with a round higher than 70. Every winner from 2007-2013 hit at least 10 greens in every round.
What would the expected score be for a player who only hits seven greens on a par-71 course? There’s no easy way to determine this, of course, but let’s try.
Let’s assume a player reaches the putting surface on the shot after he missed the green in regulation. That means Kirk, who entered the week with a one-putt percentage of about 41 percent, should have been expected to make a one-putt par on 41 percent of those 11 holes. He should have made 4.5 pars.
Instead he made eight pars when he missed the green, improving his expectations by 3.5 strokes. He would go on to win by two.
Kirk scored better than expected on Friday, and he played out of his mind over the last 54 holes, shooting 17-under (66-64-66) to hold off Russell Henley, Geoff Ogilvy and Billy Horschel by two strokes. That 196 total is the third-best final-54 hole total in Deutsche Bank Championship history.
Best total score over the last 54 holes at the Deutsche Bank Championship
|Player||Year||Final 54 holes|
It was the second win of the season for Kirk, who also won the McGladrey Classic, the fifth event of the 2013 wrap-around portion of this PGA Tour season. He made the cut in his first 20 starts of the year and has made 24 cuts in 26 starts in 2013-14.
Players with the highest percentage of cuts made in 2013-14 (15 or more starts)
|Player||Cuts made||Starts||Percentage of cuts made||Top 25s|
What stands out in Kirk’s record is that he only has four top-10 finishes, and he has been in the top 25 in fewer than half his starts.
Chris Kirk’s best finishes in 2013-14
|Deutsche Bank Championship||Won|
Still, he’s one of six players with multiple victories this season, having joined Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Patrick Reed with two titles. (Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Walker have three victories each.) Now, he’s first in the FedEx Cup standings, ahead of McIlroy and Walker. Not bad at all.