2008 By The Numbers

By Brian HewittDecember 1, 2008, 5:00 pm
PGA TourIt has been weeks now since the PGA Tours official season ended. And the 2008 final numbers, courtesy of the crunchers in Ponte Vedra Beach, are all official now.
Poring over the Tours year-end stats is a little like noshing on Thanksgiving Day leftovers: They often taste better the next day. Or, in the case of statistics, the next week or month.
Bubba Watson led the Tour in driving distance this year with an average poke of 315.1 yards. Perhaps more amazing was that 44.1 percent of Watsons measured drives in 2008 were 320 yards or longer. This stat is a little like federal bailout money numbers. After a few hundred billion dollars your eyes start to glaze over.
Olin Browne put 80.42 percent of his measured drives in the fairway to lead in that category. He also led in right rough avoidance with a 5.47 percent number. Take that Fred Funk.
Finally, before we leave the driving stats, it should be noted that J.B. Holmes and Robert Garrigus tied for first in the carry distance department with an average of 298.1 yards. Which means this is not a driving stat so much as it is a launching stat.
You shouldnt be surprised that short game wizard Corey Pavin led all comers in the approaches 75-100 yards category with an average leave of 11 feet, 10 inches. Stewart Cink was the best on Tour from 225-250 yards with an average leave of 41 feet, 4 inches.
Joe Durant led the Tour in ball striking but struggled near the end of the season to keep his card. Which tells you two things: Durant needs to putt better and, yes, putting is disproportionately important. Or as the late, great Lloyd Mangrum once put it: We dont play long ball out here. We play, get-it-in-the-hole.'
Harrison Frazar led in greens in regulation (GIR) from the rough at 60.39 percent. To which I can only reply: Groovy, baby. But, hey, no knock here on Frazar. Everybody has access to the same equipment (unless theyre stuck in a club deal with a company that doesnt know how to fit its players).
Dudley Hart led everybody with a success rate of 63.71 in getting up and down from bunkers. Mike Weir led everybody in proximity to the hole out of the sand with an average of 6 feet, 6 inches. Brian Gay, a dreamy good putter, was No. 1 in the overall scrambling category, getting it up and down 64.82 percent of the time.
This reminds me of how much everybody used to gush about how good Tom Watson was at making pars after missing greens in his prime. The main reason: He made more 10-foot putts in his prime than anybody else. In fact, when I ran that past top teacher Jim McLean recently he agreed it was the one thing Palmer, Nicklaus, Norman, Watson and Woods all had in common when they were playing their best golf: They made more important 10-footers than anybody else.
Sergio Garcia, arguably the player who took the biggest advantage of Woods absence for most of 2008, had the lowest scoring average at 69.12 while zooming to No. 2 in the world rankings. Phil Mickelson, an emotional player trapped in an analytical mind, was better than everybody else in the bounce back category, at a rate of 26.21 percent. One top agent recently told me Mickelson was the least successful among top players in 2008 at taking advantage of Tigers hiatus.
Heres a fascinating revelation: Bob Tway, who will turn 50 in 2009, led the Tour in par-3 birdies, making a deuce 20 percent of the time. Tway also led the Tour in putting average at 1.718 per hole. At the end of the year Scott Verplank, one of the best putters in golf in the last 20 years, was actually taking putting lessons from his good friend Tway.
The best putter from 10-15 feet with a success rate of 39.77 percent? This one might surprise you. It was Adam Scott, who had an otherwise unremarkable campaign. Paul Goydos, by the way, didnt miss a putt inside of 3 feet all year.
A few more tidbits:
  • Ben Curtis went 374 holes without a three-putt.
  • Steve Marino, with 440, made more birdies than anybody else.
  • Troy Matteson hit 31 straight greens in regulation. No one had a higher number.
  • The fairways at Oakland Hills were the toughest to hit. The field succeeded at a rate of just 48.48 percent.
  • The greens at Royal Birkdale were the toughest to hit in regulation. The field succeeded at a rate of just 48.48 percent. Birkdale was the toughest course with a stroke average at the Open Championship of 4.869 shots per round over par.
  • The toughest par-5 all year was the 14th at Pebble Beach, at .296 over par per player, per try. Yes thats the hole Mickelson made an 11 on during the AT&T.
  • Craig Barlow made the longest putt of the year: 111 feet, 5 inches on the first hole of the final round of the Buick Open at Warwick Hills.
  • Tim Petrovic hit the longest measured drive on the 11th hole of the first round of the Honda Classic. It was 439 yards. That is not a typo.
    Finally, take note: For the second consecutive year, driving distance went down on the PGA Tour. Before the drop in 2007, you had to go all the way back to 1993 to find a decline.
    Maybe todays players are figuring out that Lloyd Mangrum was on to something.
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

    Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

    Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

    Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

    Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

    This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

    Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

    Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

    Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

    “I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

    “It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

    The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

    The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.