By the numbers: Top stats of the year


Arnold Palmer’s golf bag from the 1975 Ryder Cup was placed on the first tee on Friday morning of the Ryder Cup Matches at Hazeltine. So, it was only fitting that the United States swept the opening session of the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1975, when Palmer was captain.

Palmer's team defeated Great Britain & Ireland, 21-11 that year at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania. Forty-one years later Love's team rode an identical 4-0 start to a 17-11 win against Europe.

That's not the only similarity between those matches, either.

Every U.S. player won at least one match at Hazeltine. The last time that happened for the American side? In 1975.

Those Ryder Cup facts lead off our collection of stats of the year. Here are some more numbers to chew on:

• Although his team lost, Belgian Thomas Pieters put together arguably the greatest rookie performance in European Ryder Cup history, becoming the first European/GB&I rookie to win 4 points in a single Ryder Cup.

Palmer's storied career

As we remember Palmer, who died Sept. 25 at age 87, here are some numbers from the legendary career of the King:

• 1960s: Associated Press Athlete of the Decade

• 1960, 1962: PGA of America Player of the Year

• 1960: Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year

• 1974: Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame

• 2004: Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

• 2009: Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

• Palmer is one of only three golfers to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with Jack Nicklaus (2005) and Charlie Sifford (2014).

• 7: Number of majors won by Palmer, all between 1958 and 1964. In that time period, the most majors won by anyone else was three (Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus).

Major accomplishments

Henrik Stenson won The Open at Royal Troon with a score of 264, the lowest 72-hole total in major championship history. The next-lowest major-winning scores are 265 (David Toms, 2001 PGA) and 267 (Steve Elkington, 1995 PGA; Greg Norman, 1993 The Open).

• Stenson became the second player in major championship history to shoot 63 in the final round of a victory, joining Johnny Miller, who did it in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Phil Mickelson’s 11th runner-up finish in a major championship (The Open) broke a tie with Arnold Palmer for second most in men’s golf history. Jack Nicklaus has the most, with 19. Mickelson has now finished runner-up to the two lowest total scores in the history of 72-hole major championships (Stenson, 264, The Open, 2016; and Toms, 265, PGA, 2001).

Golf in the Olympics

• In Rio de Janeiro, Justin Rose won the first Olympic gold medal in men’s golf in 40,867 days. Rose has spread his 16 professional victories across nine different countries: (U.S., 7; South Africa, 2; and Australia, Brazil, England, Hong Kong, Japan, Scotland and Spain, 1 each)

Inbee Park became the second woman to win a golf major and an Olympic gold medal. Babe Didrikson Zaharias won 10 majors and 2 gold medals in track and field in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. 

Langer's three-peats

Bernhard Langer won the Schwab Cup for the third consecutive season. However, it was not the only race Langer won for the third straight year. He also ranked first on the PGA Tour Champions in scoring average, earnings, greens in regulation, ball striing, birdie average and par breakers.

• For the third consecutive year, Langer finished first and Colin Montgomerie finished second in the PGA Tour Champions season cup standings:

On the college front

• For the second consecutive year, the 13th-ranked team according to Golfstat came to the Women’s NCAA Championships, eliminated a Pac-12 rival top seed, and won the program’s first national championship. This year it was Washington, which beat No. 1 UCLA in the semifinals. In 2015 it was Stanford, which beat No. 1 USC in the semis.

• The Oregon men became the second team to win both the individual (Aaron Wise) and team national championships as the host school in the men’s NCAA Championship. Ohio State also accomplished the feat in 1945, with John Lorms taking the individual title.

Ko makes history

Lydia Ko won her second career major championship at the ANA Inspiration. With her victory, she became the youngest player - man or woman - to win multiple majors, since Tom Morris Jr. Morris was 18 years, 4 months and 27 days old when he won his second major, the 1869 Open Championship. Ko was 18 years, 11 months and 10 days old when she won the ANA Inspiration.

• Ko is closing in on matching her age (in years) with her career LPGA wins. A look at when some of the greatest of all time in men’s and women’s golf accomplished that rare (and obscure) feat:

Tiger Woods, 24 wins at age 24

Nancy Lopez, 25 wins at age 25

Mickey Wright, 26 wins at age 26

Kathy Whitworth, 27 wins at age 27

Jack Nicklaus, 29 wins at age 29

Lydia Ko: 14 wins at age 19 (will turn 20 on April 24)

Jutanugarn breaks through

• Ariya Jutanugarn became the first player in LPGA history to earn her first three career victories in three straight tournaments held. She also became the first player since Suzann Pettersen in 2007 to win five or more times in a season after never winning previously in the LPGA. Pettersen won five times that year. Other previous non-winners to break through with five or more wins in the last 40 years were Nancy Lopez (nine wins in 1978) and Debbie Austin (five wins in 1977).

Youth rules the LPGA

• 26 of the 33 official LPGA tournaments this season were won by a player 23 or younger. Seven were won by someone 19 or younger and only one was won by someone 30 or older. The Average age of an LPGA winner was 22.3 years.

Dustin Johnson wins the U.S. Open

• At Oakmont, Johnson became the fifth different player in the last 100 years to win the U.S. Open the year after finishing runner-up, joining Tiger Woods (2007-08), Payne Stewart (1998-99), Jack Nicklaus (1971-72) and Bobby Jones (did it three times).

Shane Lowry became the third player in U.S. Open history to lose a lead of 4 strokes or more entering the final round. Payne Stewart led by 4 after 54 holes in 1998, and Mike Brady led by 5 in 1919. Both finished second. Lowry finished T-2.

Willett takes the Masters

Danny Willett became the third Masters champion to shoot a bogey-free 67 or better in the final round, joining Phil Mickelson (67 in 2010) and Doug Ford (66 in 1957).

• Twice, a defending Masters champion has held the outright 54-hole lead. In neither instance did the player go on to win. Jordan Spieth led by one in April, shot 73 and finished tied for second. Ben Hogan also led by one in 1954, but he shot 75 and finished second.

McIlroy wins at East Lake

• Rory McIlroy's Tour Championship victory was the 13th PGA Tour win of his career. Over the last 30 years, only Tiger Woods (39) and Phil Mickelson (14) have more PGA Tour wins before age 28 than McIlroy.

• McIlroy also has three more wins than any other player currently in his 20s. Jason Day, 29, has 10, Jordan Spieth, 23, has eight and Patrick Reed, 26, has five.

Matsuyama's charge

• In the HSBC Champions in China, Hideki Matsuyama became just the second player to win a WGC event by 7 strokes or more. Tiger Woods is the other, having done it four different times.

• Matsuyama is now tied with Shigeki Maruyama for most PGA Tour wins by a player from Japan (3).

Compiled from information provided by the Golf Channel research unit.