Stat attack!: Barclays review

By John AntoniniAugust 25, 2014, 1:12 am

In one way, it’s fitting that Hunter Mahan won the Barclays. Entering this week, Mahan was the only player who had played in every one of the PGA Tour’s playoff tournaments since the start of the FedEx Cup series in 2007. He hadn’t fared extremely well in any of them, with the exception of a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship in 2011. You could say he was due. 

Hunter Mahan in the PGA Tour’s playoff events

 Tournament 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
 Barclays T-17 T-31 T-20 T-31 T-43 MC T-25 Won
 Deutsche Bank MC T-15 T-36 T-33 T-8 T-39 T-13  
 BMW Champ. T-30 T-8 T-38 T-37 T-42 70 T-4  
 Tour Champ. T-5 T-17 24 T-15 2 T-8 T-20  

At Ridgewood CC, Mahan shot a final-round 65 to beat Stuart Appleby, Jason Day and Cameron Tringale by two strokes. He led the field in greens in regulation and all-around rank, and during his 6-under final round, Mahan didn’t miss a putt from less than 15 feet.

He’s the sixth player to win in 2013-14 while leading the field in GIR, and he’s the seventh player since the U.S. Open to win while leading the field in all-around rank (a common occurrance because the all-around rank includes scoring average).

The Tour’s traditional statistics have taken a back seat in recent years to the glossier computer-friendly stats – golf doesn’t yet have a term akin to baseball’s sabermetrics – but Mahan showed that success in all the basic facets of the game is still worth the practice time.

At the Barclays, Mahan tallied 118 all-around points in the stat that combines a player’s rank in eight traditional categories, including driving distance and accuracy, greens in regulation, putting average, birdies per round, eagles, sand saves and scoring average.

Recent PGA Tour winners who also led the field in all-around rank

 Player Tournament
 Hunter Mahan Barclays
 Camilo Villegas Wyndham Championship
 Rory McIlroy PGA Championship
 Tim Clark RBC Canadian Open
 Brian Harman John Deere Classic
 Angel Cabrera Greenbrier Classic 
 Martin Kaymer U.S. Open

Mahan hit 58 greens in regulation at Ridgewood CC, three more than runner-up Bo Van Pelt. He’s the sixth GIR leader to win the tournament in 2013-14.

PGA Tour winners in 2013-14 who also led the field in GIR

 Player Tournament
 Hunter Mahan Barclays
 Rory McIlroy WGC-Bridgestone
 Brian Harman John Deere Classic
 Angel Cabrera Greenbrier Classic
 Matt Kuchar RBC Heritage
 Dustin Johnson  WGC-HSBC Champions

Mahan’s success in the all-around ranking goes beyond making birdies and leading the tournament in scoring average. It’s something he has done all year long.

He ranks among the top 50 players on Tour in 2013-14 in driving distance, accuracy, greens in regulation, scoring average and all-around rank. Only Kevin Chappell also ranks in the top 50 in all five stats and only Shawn Stefani ranks in the top 65 in the five categories.

Players in the top 60 in distance, accuracy, GIR, scoring and all-around rank

 Player Distance rank Accuracy rank GIR rank Scoring avg. rank All-around rank
 Hunter
 Mahan
46 42 28 42 35
 Kevin
 Chappell
45 40 32 48 10
 Shawn
 Stefani
29 47 63 47 38

Mahan is the only one of the three players to win this year, but all three have had solid seasons and remain alive in the chase for the FedEx Cup.

Stefani, a second-year player was T-30 at the Barclays and is 67th in the FedEx Cup standings in his second year on Tour.

Chappell is 61st in the Cup chase after also finishing T-30 at Ridgewood.

As for Mahan, the victory culminates a solid three-tournament run that saw him finish T-15 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and T-7 at the PGA Championship. He’s one of four players who finished in the top 10 at Valhalla and at Ridgewood.

How the top-10 finishers at the PGA Championship* fared at the Barclays

 Player PGA finish Barclays finish
 Rory McIlroy Won T-22
 Phil Mickelson T-2 78
 Rickie Fowler T-3 T-9
 Henrik Stenson T-3 T-38
 Jim Furyk T-5 8
 Ryan Palmer T-5 T-74
 Ernie Els T-7 T-5
 Hunter Mahan T-7 Won
 Jimmy Walker T-7 MC

*Only those who played both events are listed.

The victory moves Mahan atop the new FedEx Cup standings, and would seemingly give him a leg up on securing the Cup for the first time. However, only Vijay Singh in 2008 has won the Barclays and then gone on to win the FedEx Cup as well.

How the Barclays winner has fared in the FedEx Cup

 Year Player FedEx Cup finish
 2014 Hunter Mahan  
 2013 Adam Scott Third
 2012 Nick Watney Fourth
 2011 Dustin Johnson Fourth
 2010 Matt Kuchar Second
 2009 Heath Slocum Eighth
 2008 Vijay Singh Won
 2007 Steve Stricker Second

Mahan’s success led to another final-round disappointment for Jim Furyk, who lost for the eighth straight time after holding or sharing the 54-hole lead.

Jim Furyk with the 54-hole lead or co-lead since 2012

 Tournament Final-round score Finish
 2014 Barclays 70 8
 2014 Canadian Open 69 2
 2013 BMW Championship 71 3
 2013 PGA Championship 71 2
 2012 McGladrey  69 3
 2012 WGC-Bridgestone 69 2
 2012 U.S. Open 74 T-4
 2012 Transitions 69 Playoff loss

As with Sunday, he hasn’t always played poorly during the final round, his scoring average in those eight events is a very respectable 70.25. However the winner of the eight tournaments played to an average of 65.1, including Mahan’s 65 Sunday and Tim Clark’s 65 at the Canadian Open a month earlier.

Furyk has qualified for the Tour Championship six times in the seven years of the playoffs, and he should advance that far again in 2014, giving him three more chances to end his victory drought. Where did Furyk win last? The Tour Championship at East Lake in 2010.

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1

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Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

“This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

“I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

“I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

“We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

“I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”