Stat attack!: Stats of the Year for 2014

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The 2014 golf season had its share of memorable moments, many of them being chronicled by Golf Channel as we count down the year’s top newsmakers. But crunching the numbers for this season revealed many interesting tidbits worth sharing. From Rory McIlroy to Bernhard Langer to Tiger Woods – yes, Tiger Woods - here is a look at the Stat Attack’s top statistical nuggets for 2014.

Putting for dough

Rory McIlroy’s getting most of the year-end honors for 2014 and the accolades are well deserved. He laid the groundwork for his historic season on the greens. Although he was only 41st in strokes gained/putting, McIlroy led the PGA Tour in putting average, birdie or better conversion percentage and birdies per round. His 2013-14 ranking in all three of those stats is among the five best single-season marks in Tour history.

Of course, PGA Tour history is quite modern. The Tour's Stat Database monitors birdie conversion percentage since 1980, putting average since 1986 and birdies per round since 1996.

PGA Tour single-season leaders in birdie or better percentage 

 Player Birdie Pct. Year
 Bob Heintz 36.98% 2002
 Rory McIlroy 36.84 2014
 Tiger Woods 36.56 2005
 Phil Mickelson 36.42 2001
 Tiger Woods 36.14 2000

PGA Tour single-season leaders in birdies per round

 Player Birdies per round Year
 Tiger Woods 4.92 2000
 Tiger Woods 4.65 2006
 Rory McIlroy 4.58 2014
 Tiger Woods 4.57 2005
 Phil Mickelson 4.54 2001

PGA Tour single-season leaders in putts per GIR

 Player Putts per GIR Year
 Bob Heintz 1.682 2002
 Luke Donald 1.700 2011
 David Toms 1.704 2002
 Brad Faxon 1.704 2000
 Rory McIlroy  1.707500 2014
 Jim Furyk 1.707506 1995
 David Frost 1.708 2001

Tiger is No. 1

Strange as it might sound, Tiger Woods led the PGA Tour in something positive in 2013-14. He made the PGA Tour’s longest putt last season at 91 feet, seven inches, on the fourth hole in the second round of the WGC-Cadillac Invitational. At the time, he was so much more concerned with his back, which caused him to withdraw from the Honda Classic one week earlier, that the putt was barely mentioned in his post-round press conference.

Longest putts on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Player Putt length Tournament (hole, round)
 Tiger Woods 91 ft.,
7 in. 
WGC-Cadillac (fourth hole, second round)
 Jeff Overton 76 ft.,
10 in.
Deutsche Bank (ninth hole, first round)
 Ryan Palmer 76 ft. 6 in. HP Byron Nelson (fourth hole, first round)
 Michael
 Thompson
76 ft. 1 in. Wells Fargo (17th hole, fourth round)
 Jonathan Byrd 75 ft.
10 in.
Wells Fargo (18 hole, first round)

Getting better all the time

Jimmy Walker’s outstanding 2013-14, in which he won three times and was fourth on the PGA Tour in earnings, is the highlight of a career that has seen him improve his rank on the money list for seven straight years.

Jimmy Walker money rank since 2008

 Year Money rank Earnings
 2014 4 $5,787,016
 2013  30 2,117,570
 2012 48 1,638,419
 2011 67 1,336,556
 2010  103 937,987
 2009 125 662,683
 2008 185 282,249

Bunting to victory

Tim Clark, winner of the Bell Canadian Open, finished the 2013-14 season with a driving distance of 272.2 yards, 174th of 177 players who qualified for a ranking. Clark was the shortest hitter among PGA Tour winners, and was one of just seven players outside the top 100 in distance to win last season. 

PGA Tour winners in 2013-14 who ranked outside the top 100 in driving distance

 Player Driving distance Rank 2014 victory
 Tim Clark  272.2 174 Bell Canadian Open
 Ben Crane 279.0 157 FedEx St. Jude Classic
 Brendon Todd 280.3 T-148 HP Byron Nelson Champ.
 Zach Johnson 282.2 T-141 Hyundai T of C
 Matt Kuchar 283.8 136 RBC Heritage
 Ryan Moore  284.7 129 CIMB Classic
 Matt Every 286.3 116 Arnold Palmer Inv.

Lefty’s lament

Phil Mickelson had arguably his worst season since joining the PGA Tour midway through 1992. The 2013-14 campaign was his first without a victory since 2003, and he failed to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time in the FedEx Cup era. Although Mickelson finished 35th in scoring average at 70.278, it was his highest mark since 1998 and his worst rank since 1995. It is a testament to the greatness of Mickelson’s career that this was only the third time he was outside the Tour’s top 30 in scoring.

Phil Mickelson’s highest single-season scoring average

 Year Scoring average Rank
 1993 71.205 T-90
 1995  70.592 44
 1998 70.280 27
 2014 70.278 35
 2003 70.249 26
 1996 70.228 16
 2009 70.218 28

Working on the weekend

When Paula Creamer missed the cut at the LPGA’s Kingsmill event in May, it ended her streak of consecutive cuts made at 74. The longest cuts-made streak on Tour now belongs to Lydia Ko, who played on the weekend in all 26 of her starts in 2014 and hasn’t missed a cut in 42 LPGA appearances as a professional or an amateur. (Adam Scott is the current PGA Tour leader in consecutive cuts made with 44.)

Longest current streak of consecutive cuts made on the LPGA Tour

 Player Consecutive cuts 2014 total
 Lydia Ko 42 26
 Stacy Lewis 35 28
 Shanshan Feng 31 24

The LPGA’s green machines

Suzann Pettersen and Anna Nordqvist led the LPGA in greens in regulation in 2014 at 77.1 percent. Unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA’s website does not give a breakdown of how many greens were hit and how many attempts were taken, so we cannot break the tie. We can say, however, that the two players hit more greens in one year than any player since Annika Sorenstam.

Lowest single-season GIR on the LPGA since 2000

 Player GIR percentage Year
 Annika Sorenstam 79.7 2001
 Annika Sorenstam 79.7 2002
 Annika Sorenstam 78.8 2004
 Annika Sorenstam 77.2 2005
 Suzann Pettersen 77.1 2014
 Anna Nordqvist 77.1 2014

The cash man

Bernhard Langer was the second player in Champions Tour history to surpass $3 million in earnings, with his $3,074,189 breaking the old single-season record set by Hale Irwin in 2002. Langer also had highest percentage of potential money won – the quotient of his total earnings and what his earnings would have been had he won every event he played – of any Champions player this century. Langer cashed 46.13 percent of his potential earnings. Don January, the Tour’s all-time leader, won 67.06 percent of his potential earnings in 1983.

Single-season Champions Tour earnings

 Player Earnings Year
 Bernhard Langer $3,074,189 2014
 Hale Irwin 3,028,304 2002
 Hale Irwin 2,861,945 1998
 Larry Nelson 2,708,005 2000
 Bernhard Langer 2,648,939 2010

Highest percentage of potential money won on the Champions Tour: 2000-2014

 Player Pct. money won Year
 Bernhard Langer 46.13% 2014
 Fred Couples 45.74 2010
 Tom Watson 45.03 2003
 Hale Irwin 42.24 2002
 Larry Nelson 40.67 2000

The Mechanic keeps motoring

The oldest champion in European Tour history is Miguel Angel Jimenez, who was 50 years and 133 days old when he won the 2014 Spanish Open in May. He broke the record he set at the Hong Kong Open in December 2013, when he was one month shy of his 50th birthday. The previous record holder was, you guessed it, Jimenez, when he won the 2012 Hong Kong Open. Jimenez didn’t quite reach his goal of making the European Tour Ryder Cup team at age 50, but he did finish fourth at the Masters and 21st in the Race to Dubai standings, his 12th straight year in the top 30 on the money list. If he ever decides to take on Bernhard Langer, the Champions Tour might have its next $3 million man.

The oldest tournament winners in European Tour history

 Player Age Tournament
 Miguel Angel Jimenez 50 years, 133 days 2014 Spanish Open
 Miguel Angel Jimenez 49 years, 337 days 2013 Hong Kong Open
 Miguel Angel Jimenez 48 years, 318 days 2012 Hong Kong Open
 Des Smyth 48 years, 34 days 2001 Madeira Island Open
 Neil Coles 48 years, 14 days 1991 Sanyo Open

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