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Stat attack!: Valspar Championship review

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The recipe for success at PGA Tour events is a simple one. Hit your approach shots close to the pin and make the putts. John Senden was able to do just that at the Valspar Championship, finishing sixth in the field in proximity to the hole on approaches and third in the field in distance of putts made. That combination lifted him to a seven-under 277 at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, one shot better than Kevin Na. Senden, who last won on Tour at the 2006 John Deere Classic, went 205 starts between victories. It is one of the longest spans between the first and second win for an active PGA Tour player .

Most starts between first and second wins among active PGA Tour players

 Starts
 between
 wins

Player First win Second win
 274 Woody Austin 1993 Buick Open 2004 Buick Championship
 246  Paul Goydos 1996 Bay Hill 2007 Sony Open
 205 John Senden 2006 John Deere 2014 Valspar Championship
 184 Cameron Beckman 2001 SFB Classic 2008 Frys.com Open
 177 J.J. Henry 2006 Buick Championship 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open

Senden’s distance to the pin on approach shots was 30 feet, 10 inches for the week, sixth best in the field. Entering the tournament he was tied for 114th on the PGA Tour in that category. Not surprisingly, he nailed his approaches on Saturday, averaging less than 23 feet from the hole during a third-round 64 that moved him from T-35 to third. 

Senden’s proximity to hole per round at Tampa

 Round Distance to pin Score Birdies
 1 37 ft., 9 in. 72 2
 2 23 ft., 3 in. 71 3
 3 22 ft., 9 in. 64 7
 4 39 ft., 6 in. 70 5
 Total 30 ft., 10 in. 277 17

As mentioned, Senden made the most of moving day. His third-round 64 is tied for the third-best Saturday score by a winner in 2013-14.

Best third-round scores by a winner on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Score Player Tournament Climb on leader board
 62 Jimmy Walker Frys.com Open T-28 to fourth
 63 Patrick Reed Humana Challenge Remained first
 64 John Senden Valspar Championship T-35 to third
 64 Bubba Watson Northern Trust Open T-40 to T-6
 66 Dustin Johnson HSBC Champions Remained first

Senden made 10 putts of 10 feet or longer at the Copperhead course, including three from more than 25 feet. In addition to being third in distance of putts made, he was third in greens in regulation with 54. It’s the second-most greens he has hit all year.

John Senden’s key stats at the Valspar Championship

  GIR percentage (rank) Proximity to hole (rank) Distance of putts made (rank)
 Valspar 72.22% (3) 30 ft. 10 in. (6) 89 ft. 8 in. (3)
 Entering
 the week
70.03% (T-37) 36 ft., 10 in (T-114) 78 ft. 11 in. (18)

Senden, who turns 43 on April 20 (one week after the Sunday of the Masters, for which this win qualifies him), is the oldest winner on tour this season by nearly five years.

Oldest PGA Tour winners in 2013-14

 Player Tournament Age at time of win
 John Senden Valspar Championship 42
 Zach Johnson Hyundai T of C 37
 Bubba Watson Northern Trust 35
 Jimmy Walker AT&T Pebble Beach 35
 Kevin Stadler Waste Management 32

As well as things went for Senden on Sunday, they went just as badly for Robert Garrigus. The 54-hole leader made two double bogeys and a bogey in his first six holes to finish with a 75 and a tie for fourth. It’s the fourth time he has held at least a share of the lead through 54 holes of a PGA Tour event. He has not won in any of those tournaments, although two of those losses came in playoffs.

Robert Garrigus with the 54-hole lead

 Tournament Final-round score Finish
 2014 Valspar 75 T-4
 2012 Canadian 70 T-2
 2011 Hyundai T of C 67 2 (lost playoff)
 2010 FedEx St. Jude 71 2 (lost playoff)

Garrigus’ troubles were not uncommon on the Copperhead Course Sunday. There were only eight rounds in the 60s and the field averaged 72.973 strokes Sunday. It was the third-highest Sunday scoring average on tour this season.

Highest final-round scoring averages in 2013-14

 Event Course Average
 CIMB Classic Kuala Lumpur G&CC 73.026
 WGC-Cadillac Doral Blue Monster 73.015
 Valspar Innsibrook Copperhead 72.973
 AT&T Pebble Beach Pebble Beach GL 72.857
 Farmers Insurance Torrey Pines South 72.370