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Stat attack!: WGC-Cadillac Championship review

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If you don’t think there’s a youth movement on the PGA Tour you haven’t been paying attention. For the second straight week a PGA Tour winner is under 25, with 23-year-old Patrick Reed winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship to join 24-year-old Honda Classic champ Russell Henley. Throw in Chesson Hadley, who won Sunday’s Puerto Rico Open, and Jason Day, who ended the West Coast Swing by winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, and the last four winners are all 26 or under. Of the 17 PGA Tour events in 2013-14, 10 have been won by players under 30. 

Winners under age 30 on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Player 2013-14 wins Age Career wins
 Patrick Reed Humana Challenge, WGC-Cadillac 23 3
 Russell Henley Honda Classic 24 2
 Harris English Mayakoba Classic 24 2
 Jason Day WGC-Accenture Match Play 26 2
 Chesson Hadley Puerto Rico Open 26 1
 Webb Simpson Shriners Hospitals for Children Open 28 4
 Scott Stallings Farmers Insurance Open 28 3
 Chris Kirk McGladrey Classic 28 2
 Dustin Johnson HSBC Champions 29 8

Reed, now 20th on the world ranking, joins Rory McIlroy as the only PGA Tour players currently under 25 with three or more wins. He is the first player since McIlroy to win twice in the same season at such a young age. When McIlroy won four times in 2012 he turned 23 in May. Reed turns 24 in August.

Wins by players under age 25

 Player Wins Tournaments
 Rory
 McIlroy
6 2010 Wells Fargo, 2011 U.S. Open, 2012 Honda, 2012 PGA, 2012 Deutsche Bank, 2012 BMW Championship
 Patrick
 Reed
3 2013 Wyndham, 2014 Humana, 2014 WGC-Cadillac
 Harris
 English
2 2013 FedEx St. Jude, 2013 Mayakoba (2014 season)
 Russell
 Henley
2 2013 Sony, 2014 Honda

The victory gives Reed three wins in 51 PGA Tour starts, which is in line with when some of the Tour’s biggest stars got their third victory.

Events needed to reach three PGA Tour victories (including amateur starts)

 Player Age at third win Number of starts for third win Career wins
 Tiger Woods 21 23 (1997 Mercedes) 79
 Rory McIlroy 22 40 (2012 Honda) 6
 Adam Scott 23 46 (2004 Booz Allen) 11
 Sergio Garcia 21 46 (2002 Mercedes) 8
 Phil Mickeson 23 49 (1993 International) 42
 Patrick Reed 23 51 (2014 WGC-Cadillac) 3
 Ernie Els 26 51 (1996 Buick Classic) 19
 Dustin Johnson 25 61 (2010 AT&T Pebble) 8
 Jim Furyk 28 148 (1998 Las Vegas) 16

 


Reed successfully challenged the revamped Blue Monster course at Trump National Doral, which played to a scoring average of 73.852 and was the toughest course in relation to par the Tour has played in 2013-14.

Hardest courses on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Rank Course Par Yardage Average To par
 1 TPC Blue Monster at Doral 72 7.481 73.852 +1.852
 2 Torrey Pines South 72 7,698 73.797 +1.797
 3 Pebble Beach Golf Links 72 6,816 73.385 +1.385
 4  Spyglass Hill 72 6.953 72.755 +0.755
 5 PGA National Champion 70 7,140 70.408 +0.408

To be sure, Gil Hanse restored the Blue Monster’s bite, as the course played to a subpar scoring average each of the last six years. It has not been among the 20 toughest courses on the PGA Tour since 2007.

Scoring average at the WGC-Cadillac Championship since it moved to Doral

 Year Average PGA Tour rank
 2014 73.852 1
 2013 71.335 31
 2012 71.135 38
 2011 71.477 34
 2010 71.234 34
 2009 70.915 39
 2008 71.037 40
 2007 72.998 16

At Doral, Reed wasn’t very accurate off the tee (T-52 at 41.07 percent) and was only about tournament average in greens in regulation (58.33 percent), but he rebounded when he missed the green, improving on his season average in scrambling and sand saves percentage, finishing in the top 10 in both stats for the week. He made par or better two out of every three times he missed the green (the tournament average was about 50 percent) and was eighth in the field in sand saves, getting up and down 10 times in 14 tries from bunkers, including three on the back nine Sunday. 

Key stats for Patrick Reed at Doral and entering the week

 Stat At Doral (rank) Entering the week (rank)
 GIR 58.33% (T-28) 70.99% (28)
 Scrambling 66.67 (6) 53.90 (145)
 Sand saves 71.43 (8) 57.89 (27)

What’s next for Reed, now that he has made mincemeat of the tour’s easiest venues – the desert courses at the Humana Challenge, where he shot 28-under 260 in January – and the Tour’s hardest test so far this season? How about a major championship? Even though Reed hasn’t played a major in his career, next month’s Masters will be a homecomeing for him as he played college golf at Augusta State. Can he succeed? Maybe not next month, maybe not in June, but someday and for the rest of his life, he’ll likely be able to call himself a major winner. Look again at that list of PGA Tour winners a few charts up. Only Garcia and Dustin Johnson haven’t won a major title, and they’ve both come close. Only one previous WGC-Cadillac winner (Nick Watney) has never won a major. Eleven of the previous 14 winners had already won one and Mike Weir and Justin Rose would eventually do so. Yes, the future looks bright for one of the Tour’s top young stars.