PGA Tour introduces new putting statistic

By Doug FergusonMay 3, 2011, 11:28 pm

PGA TourCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dean Wilson always believed he was a good putter, whether he was in Japan or on the PGA Tour. The trick was finding proof of that in the statistics.

He finished no higher than 31st in putts per round over the last five years, but Wilson never put much stock in that because it doesn’t account for how often a player is putting for birdie or getting up-and-down from just off the green. He once was 13th in average putts per greens in regulation, although that didn’t account for proximity to the hole.

So the 41-year-old from Hawaii was not surprised when told about a new PGA Tour statistic that became official Monday, one that uses Shotlink data over an entire year to measure how well a player putts compared with the field.

The statistic officially is called “Strokes Gained-Putting,” and it’s the first time in 15 years that the PGA Tour has introduced a new core statistic. Wilson would have been among the top 11 putters in four of the last five years.

“I always felt like I’m a good putter,” Wilson said. “I’m confident in my technique and the theories I use. I just don’t know what the correct way would be to measure it. They’re all skewed one way or another. I could never think there was another way to do it.”

That’s where Mark Broadie comes in.

Broadie, who plays off a 4 handicap when he’s not working as a Columbia Business School professor, has been crunching Shotlink numbers for the better part of a decade as he tries to find the most meaningful measure of a tour player’s game.

“A good putting stat should provide a pure measure of putting skill,” said Broadie, who developed the stat and then honed it with a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His philosophy is simple – the quality of every shot should be based on where it started and where it finished.

The math is a little more complicated.

It starts with determining how many average putts it takes a PGA Tour player from each distance. Broadie discovered that at just under 8 feet, players have a 50 percent chance of making the putt – in other words, the average stroke for that length is 1.5. The average gets higher for the longer putts.

So if Nick Watney makes an 8-foot putt, he will have gained 0.5 strokes on the field. If he takes two putts from that distance, he will have lost 0.5 strokes to the field. The average for a 20-foot putt is about 1.9. If he makes the putt, he gains 0.9 on the field, whereas if he misses the putt, he loses only 0.1 strokes.

Add these up at the end of each round and you have “Putts Gained.”

Watney is used as an example because he is the current tour leader at 1.215. All that number means is that Watney gains an average of about 1.2 strokes on the field through his putting.

The numbers might not make a lot of sense, but the names do. Luke Donald would have led the tour in this statistic the last two years. Ben Crane would have led the tour twice. Tiger Woods for years was regarded one of golf’s best putters. With this statistic, he ranked among the top 3 in three of the last five years he was eligible.

Others who were around the top 10 just about every year were players whom their peers consider good putters – Woods, Steve Stricker, Donald, Crane, Brian Gay, Aaron Baddeley – and yes, even Dean Wilson.

The tour awards a medal to each player who leads a major statistical category, just as driving distance and greens in regulation. Starting this year, “putts gained” will determine who wins the putting category.

It’s not a perfect system, although it’s designed to take out the bias from the previous putting stats.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."