Stat attack!: HP Byron Nelson Championship review


Brendon Todd’s first career victory, a two-stroke win over Mike Weir Sunday at the HP Byron Nelson Championship certainly wasn’t accomplished in a conventional fashion. Todd became the eighth first-time winner on the PGA Tour this season – and the third in three events in the state of Texas – by hitting fairways and missing greens. He became the first player since Louis Oosthuizen in the 2010 British Open to win the same week he led the field in driving accuracy and he is one of two players in 2013-14 to win a tournament despite hitting fewer than 60 percent of the greens in regulation.

PGA Tour winners since 2008 who also led the field in driving accuracy

 Player Tournament
 Brendon Todd 2014 HP Byron Nelson Championship
 Louis Oosthuizen 2010 British Open
 Nathan Green 2009 Canadian Open
 Sergio Garcia 2008 Players
 Trevor Immelman 2008 Masters

Driving accuracy has become passe in the era of the big hitter, and is such a relatively unessential statistic that only two of the top-10 players on Tour in fairways hit are in the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings (Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk). Todd is one of just six players in 2013-14 to lead an event in accuracy off the tee and still finish in the top five of a tournament.

Best finishes by the event leader in driving accuracy in 2013-14

 Player Tournament Finish
 Brendon Todd HP Byron Nelson Won
 Kevin Na Valspar Championship Second
 Zach Johnson Humana Challenge T-3
 Miguel A. Jimenez Masters T-4
 David Toms Puerto Rico Open T-4
 Henrik Stenson Arnold Palmer Inv. T-5

At the TPC Four Seasons Resort, Todd hit 40 fairways, including 12 each in the first and third rounds. He hit more fairways in round one than he did greens (12 to 10). Only one other player in the top five in the field in driving accuracy also finished in the top 10 at the Nelson.

Driving accuracy leaders at the HP Byron Nelson Championship

 Player Accuracy Finish
 Brendon Todd 71.43% (40 of 56) Won
 Charlie Wi 67.86 (38 of 56) T-29
 Brendon de Jonge 67.86 (38 of 56) T-29
 John Senden 67.86 (38 of 56) T-11
 Marc Leishman 66.07 (37 of 56) T-3
 Brian Harman 66.07 (37 of 56) T-29

As precise as Todd was off the tee, he didn’t transfer that success to his second shots. Todd hit a paltry 43 greens in regulation, including a woeful 17 on the front nine. He ranked T-55 in the field in GIR, the worst position for a winner on the PGA Tour this year and his 59.72 percentage of greens hit was the second worse for a winner this season.

Lowest GIR percentage for PGA Tour winners in 2013-14

  Player Tournament GIR percentage Tournament rank
 Patrick Reed WGC-Cadillac  58.33% T-28
 Brendon Todd HP Byron Nelson 59.72 T-55
 Steven Bowditch Valero Texas Open 61.11 T-15

Todd was able to recover from those missed greens with one of the better scrambling performances the folks at TPC Four Seasons Resort have seen in quite some time. He made par or better 25 of the 29 times he missed the green in regulation and his 86.21 scrambling percentage was the second-best mark at the Nelson in the last 10 years.

Best scrambling percentage at the HP Byron Nelson Championship: 2005-2014

 Player Year Scrambling Pct.
 Justin Bolli 2013 86.36% (19 of 22)
 Brendon Todd 2014 86.21 (25 of 29)
 Greg Chalmers 2009 84.21 (16 of 19)
 Nick Price 2005 84.00 (21 of 25)
 Johnson Wagner 2010 82.61 (19 of 23)

Todd played better on the back nine than the front nine. As mentioned earlier, he hit just 17 greens on the front but he improved to 26 on the back. It resulted in a six-stroke difference between his front-nine and back-nine scoring. After going out in four under for the week, Todd came home in 10 under, the best score on the back nine all week. Among players within five stroke of the lead only Boo Weekley was within five strokes of Todd’s total on the inward nine.

Back-nine/front-nine differential among the leaders at the Nelson

 Player Front nine Back nine Total 
 Brendon Todd -4 -10 -14
 Mike Weir  -8 -4 -12
 Charles Howell III -6 -4 -10
 Marc Leishman -7 -3 -10
 James Hahn -6 -3 -9
 Boo Weekley -3 -6 -9

Todd has played well on the back nine all year, ranking sixth on Tour in scoring in those holes.

Back-nine scoring leaders on Tour in 2013-14

 Rank Player Back-nine average
 1 Rory McIlroy 34.61
 2 Luke Donald 34.80
 3 Freddie Jacobson 34.87
 4 Sergio Garcia 34.92
 5 John Senden 34.93
 6 Brendon Todd 34.95

But unlike McIlroy or Donald, who rank 105th and 170th on Tour in front-nine scoring, respectively, Todd is having a fine time wherever he plays. He has an average of 35.08 on the front (ranked 30th), and his adjusted scoring average of 70.036 ranks 11th on Tour. It’s by far the best mark of his career.

Todd and runner-up Mike Weir led the field with 99 putts for the week. They became the fourth and fifth players to take fewer than 100 putts at the Nelson since the tournament moved to the TPC Four Seasons Resort course (originally TPC Las Colinas) in 1986.

Fewest putts at the Byron Nelson Championship

 Putts Player Year
 95 Mark O’Meara 1995
 97 Tim Herron 2008
 99 Brendon Todd 2014
 99 Mike Weir 2014
 99 David Graham 1988

For Weir, the second-place finish was his first since the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and his first top-10 finish since a solo sixth at the 2010 Bob Hope Classic, a streak of 88 starts. He is playing in 2013-14 on a one-time exemption for being in the top 50 on the all-time PGA Tour earnings list, but the runner-up finish should allow him to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs this fall for the first time since 2009. 

Mike Weir’s record since 2010

 Year Starts Cuts made Top 10s FedEx Cup rank Money rank
 2014 19 7 1 87 71
 2013 22 9 0 174 184
 2012 14 0 0 None None
 2011 15 2 0 259 240
 2010 19 11 1 128 151