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New putting stat a lot to digest

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s called “strokes gained putting” and has been anointed the PGA Tour’s new default putting statistic. Not that many folks inside the game actually understand what it means.

“They sent me the information and I had a hard time understanding it,” said Dave Stockton Sr., who has quickly become the circuit’s new “putting whisperer” following his work with Phil Mickelson, J.B. Holmes and now Rory McIlroy.

The new stat was developed by professor Mark Broadie of Columbia Business School and later refined by the Tour, and uses Shotlink data over an entire year to measure how well a player putts compared with the field.

If the field, for example, makes 8-footers at a 50 percent clip the average stroke for that length is 1.5. For longer putts, the average increases.

Got that? No, neither does Stockton.

“I know what they are trying to do. They are trying to get a more concrete number,” Stockton said. “But it took me a while to digest it.”