Stat attack!: McGladrey Classic review

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While watching the playoff at the McGladrey Classic, I began to wonder whether, Robert Streb, who had the best final round among the three playoff competitors, had the edge in the upcoming overtime. Streb, who shot 63 Sunday (compared to 65 for Brendon de Jonge and 68 for Will MacKenzie), would have appeared to have the momentum entering the extra session because he played so well in regulation. But he had to wait more than an hour for the rest of the field to finish the final round before he began the playoff. Would there be a carry-over effect from his low score?

That Streb won with a birdie on the second extra hole made me think I was onto something, so I checked all the playoffs on the PGA Tour from 2011 to 2014. In that time, the playoff winner did indeed shoot the lowest final round more often than not, with the winner having the better Sunday on 23 of the 37 playoffs where one playoff participant had a better score than his opponents (playoffs where two or more participants tied during the final round were not considered).

It also reversed a trend from last season, as only one playoff winner in 2013-14 had the lowest score on Sunday – Matt Jones, who shot 66 in Houston, then beat Matt Kuchar in extra holes. 

But truth be told, why Streb was able win Sunday at the McGladrey Classic had more to do with his putting than any momentum gained from his final-round 63. Streb needed just 113 putts at Sea Island’s Seaside course, tied for the fewest in the field, and he ranked second in putts per GIR. He didn’t miss a putt from less than five feet – including his playoff winner for birdie on the second extra hole – and was 62-for-66 from 10 feet or less. Streb improved his putting in every putting stat listed below at the McGladrey compared to last season.

Robert Streb’s rank in putting stats at the McGladrey Classic

 Statistic McGladrey rank Streb's 2014 rank
 Putts per Round  T-1 (28.25) T-69 (28.87)
 Putts per GIR 2 ( 1.642) T-68 (1.766)
 Strokes gained/putting 2 (1.691) 75 (.117)
 Putting from less than 10 feet T-6 (93.94%) T-145 (86.18%)
 One-putt percentage T-1 (45.83%) T-63 (40.06%)

Personal best

Streb’s great putting led him to a career-best 63 Sunday, including four birdies on his last five holes, aided by a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and a 33 footer on the next hole. It led to his first victory in just his 49th PGA Tour start.

Robert Streb’s career best rounds

 Score Tournament Finish
 63 Fourth round, 2014 McGladrey Classic Won playoff
 64 Fourth round, 2013 Humana Challenge T-14
 65 First round, 2013 Honda Classic T-18
 65 Second round, 2013 Puerto Rico Open T-11
 65 Third round, 2013 John Deere Classic T-22
 65 First round, 2014 John Deere Classic T-37

Number of starts needed for first-time PGA Tour winners since 2013-14 to get their first victory

 Player First win Starts needed
 Chesson Hadley 2014 McGladrey Classic 13
 Hideki Matsuyama 2014 Puerto Rico Open 26
 Robert Streb 2014 McGladrey Classic 49
 Ben Martin 2014 Frys.com Open 56
 Brendon Todd 2014 HP Byron Nelson Champ.       77
 Seung-Yul Noh 2014 Zurich Classic 78
 Brian Harman 2014 John Deere Classic 88
 Matt Every 2014 Arnold Palmer Inv. 93
Steven Bowditch 2014 Valero Texas Open 110
 Matt Jones 2014 Shell Houston Open 156
 Jimmy Walker 2013 Frys.com Open 188
 Kevin Stadler 2014 WM Phoenix Open 239

Sunday smoke

Streb is the third player in the past year to shoot 63 in the final round and win, joining Jimmy Walker at the Sony Open and Camilo Villegas at the Wyndham Championship. They are among the six players who shot that low and won in the last two years.

Lowest final-round score by a PGA Tour winner: 2013-2014

 Player Score Tournament
 Robert Streb 63 2014 McGladrey Classic
 Jimmy Walker 63 2014 Sony Open
 Camilo Villegas 63 2014 Wyndham Championship
 Martin Laird 63 2013 Valero Texas Open
 Brian Gay 63 2013 Humana Challenge
 Russell Henley 63 2013 Sony Open

Heartache again

The McGladrey was another close call for Brendon de Jonge, who has played 212 events in his PGA Tour career and has earned more than $9.9 million, yet hasn’t won. De Jonge, who played on the International Presidents Cup in 2013, has 25 top-10 finishes and was also second at the 2012 Las Vegas event. He is 145th on the PGA Tour’s all-time money list, sixth among those without a victory.

The most money won on the PGA Tour without a victory

 Player Career money rank Earnings
 Briny Baird 106 $13,251,178
 Brain Davis 111 12,621,269
 Jeff Overton  122 11,866,149
 Brett Quigley 133 11,058,693
 Charlie Wi 144 9,930,397
 Brendon de Jonge 145 9,921,659

Brendon de Jonge’s close calls

 Tournament Finish Note
 2014 McGladrey Classic T-2 Lost playoff to Robert Streb
 2012 Las Vegas 2 Lost by one to Ryan Moore despite opening with a 62
 2010 Viking Classic T-3 Tied for the lead after 36 holes, but finished 73-72
 2012 AT&T National T-11 Held the 54-hole lead but shot 77 to fall to T-11

Sweet Georgia

None of the playoff participants at the McGladrey Classic have ties to the state of Georgia, but a trio of Georgia Bulldogs - Kevin Kisner, Chris Kirk and Russell Henley - finished tied for fourth. It’s the second straight year at least three players with a Georgia background finished in the top 10 at the McGladrey.

Top-10 finishers at the McGladrey Classic with Georgia ties: 2013-2014

 Player Finish Georgia tie
 Kevin Kisner T-4 in 2014 Attended Georgia
 Chris Kirk T-4 in 2014, Won in 2013 Attended Georgia, lives in Atlanta
 Russell Henley T-4 in 2014 Born in Macon, attended Georgia
 Scott Brown T-4 in 2013 Born in Augusta
 Brian Harman T-10 in 2013 Born in Savannah, attended Georgia
 Matt Kuchar T-7 in 2013 Attended Ga. Tech, lives in Sea Island