Stat attack!: Valspar Championship review

By John AntoniniMarch 17, 2014, 1:24 am

The recipe for success at PGA Tour events is a simple one. Hit your approach shots close to the pin and make the putts. John Senden was able to do just that at the Valspar Championship, finishing sixth in the field in proximity to the hole on approaches and third in the field in distance of putts made. That combination lifted him to a seven-under 277 at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, one shot better than Kevin Na. Senden, who last won on Tour at the 2006 John Deere Classic, went 205 starts between victories. It is one of the longest spans between the first and second win for an active PGA Tour player .

Most starts between first and second wins among active PGA Tour players


Player First win Second win
 274 Woody Austin 1993 Buick Open 2004 Buick Championship
 246  Paul Goydos 1996 Bay Hill 2007 Sony Open
 205 John Senden 2006 John Deere 2014 Valspar Championship
 184 Cameron Beckman 2001 SFB Classic 2008 Open
 177 J.J. Henry 2006 Buick Championship 2012 Reno-Tahoe Open

Senden’s distance to the pin on approach shots was 30 feet, 10 inches for the week, sixth best in the field. Entering the tournament he was tied for 114th on the PGA Tour in that category. Not surprisingly, he nailed his approaches on Saturday, averaging less than 23 feet from the hole during a third-round 64 that moved him from T-35 to third. 

Senden’s proximity to hole per round at Tampa

 Round Distance to pin Score Birdies
 1 37 ft., 9 in. 72 2
 2 23 ft., 3 in. 71 3
 3 22 ft., 9 in. 64 7
 4 39 ft., 6 in. 70 5
 Total 30 ft., 10 in. 277 17

As mentioned, Senden made the most of moving day. His third-round 64 is tied for the third-best Saturday score by a winner in 2013-14.

Best third-round scores by a winner on the PGA Tour in 2013-14

 Score Player Tournament Climb on leader board
 62 Jimmy Walker Open T-28 to fourth
 63 Patrick Reed Humana Challenge Remained first
 64 John Senden Valspar Championship T-35 to third
 64 Bubba Watson Northern Trust Open T-40 to T-6
 66 Dustin Johnson HSBC Champions Remained first

Senden made 10 putts of 10 feet or longer at the Copperhead course, including three from more than 25 feet. In addition to being third in distance of putts made, he was third in greens in regulation with 54. It’s the second-most greens he has hit all year.

John Senden’s key stats at the Valspar Championship

  GIR percentage (rank) Proximity to hole (rank) Distance of putts made (rank)
 Valspar 72.22% (3) 30 ft. 10 in. (6) 89 ft. 8 in. (3)
 the week
70.03% (T-37) 36 ft., 10 in (T-114) 78 ft. 11 in. (18)

Senden, who turns 43 on April 20 (one week after the Sunday of the Masters, for which this win qualifies him), is the oldest winner on tour this season by nearly five years.

Oldest PGA Tour winners in 2013-14

 Player Tournament Age at time of win
 John Senden Valspar Championship 42
 Zach Johnson Hyundai T of C 37
 Bubba Watson Northern Trust 35
 Jimmy Walker AT&T Pebble Beach 35
 Kevin Stadler Waste Management 32

As well as things went for Senden on Sunday, they went just as badly for Robert Garrigus. The 54-hole leader made two double bogeys and a bogey in his first six holes to finish with a 75 and a tie for fourth. It’s the fourth time he has held at least a share of the lead through 54 holes of a PGA Tour event. He has not won in any of those tournaments, although two of those losses came in playoffs.

Robert Garrigus with the 54-hole lead

 Tournament Final-round score Finish
 2014 Valspar 75 T-4
 2012 Canadian 70 T-2
 2011 Hyundai T of C 67 2 (lost playoff)
 2010 FedEx St. Jude 71 2 (lost playoff)

Garrigus’ troubles were not uncommon on the Copperhead Course Sunday. There were only eight rounds in the 60s and the field averaged 72.973 strokes Sunday. It was the third-highest Sunday scoring average on tour this season.

Highest final-round scoring averages in 2013-14

 Event Course Average
 CIMB Classic Kuala Lumpur G&CC 73.026
 WGC-Cadillac Doral Blue Monster 73.015
 Valspar Innsibrook Copperhead 72.973
 AT&T Pebble Beach Pebble Beach GL 72.857
 Farmers Insurance Torrey Pines South 72.370


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Furyk remains coy about Ryder Cup picks

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk sounds like a man champing at the bit to officially fill out his American team and accelerate final plans for the matches in Paris next month.

With eight automatic qualifiers secured last Sunday, all that’s left are his four captain’s picks.

“At times it felt like it was dragging on,” Furyk told Amanda Balionis during CBS TV’s rain delay Saturday at the Wyndham Championship. “I’m excited to get to this point.”

But still in no hurry to commit to naming Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as two of his captain’s picks.

“We have some great choices and certainly Tiger and Phil look like they are in great form,” Furyk said.

Furyk, when specifically asked about Tiger’s chances as a pick:

“He’s played great,” Furyk said. “I’m in such a great position right now with so many players playing well and so many great players to choose from. The difficult part is going to be, `How do we pluck four guys out of there?’ Certainly, Tiger is in great form and has put himself in a great position.”

And on Mickelson’s chances:

“Phil does provide a lot of veteran leadership,” Furyk said. “He hasn’t missed one of these in a long time. He’s had a good season, and he’s putting extremely well. I want to say he’s second in putting stats right now. All good stuff, and we’ll see how the next few weeks kind of play themselves out.”

Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list

Furyk doesn’t have to make his first three picks official until Sept. 4, with the final pick to be named six days later. While Woods and Mickelson may be locks, Furyk won’t be rushed.

“There’s still time.” Furyk said. “We are in an exciting part. We have eight guys. I’m still talking to them, gathering some information. The vice captains have been talking a lot. It’s been fun seeing the banter and the texts going back and forth.

“We’ll see how the next few weeks play themselves out.”

Furyk, by the way, is in contention at the Wyndham Championship. He was tied for 11th, six shots off the lead when interviewed in the weather delay.

So, if he wins, would he resurrect talk of being a playing captain?

“The odds are about zero right now,” Furyk said. “Now that I’m kind of knee deep, and we’re getting that close to the Ryder Cup, I really don’t think it’s possible to do both, be a player and a captain. The duties would be too great. And my game, I haven’t played well the last couple years. I’ve been battling injuries and battling myself. I’m excited, I have been feeling a lot better here the last few months and I’ve started playing some good golf.”

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Aiken, Waring tied at Nordea; Olesen three back

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 5:45 pm

MOLNDAL, Sweden – Paul Waring of England and Thomas Aiken of South Africa share the lead, three shots clear of their rivals, after the third round of the Nordea Masters on the European Tour on Saturday.

Waring was tied for first place with Scott Jamieson after the second round and shot a 1-under 69.

While Jamieson (75) slipped down the leaderboard, Aiken caught up Waring after shooting 67 - despite three straight bogeys from No. 15. He bounced back by making birdie at the last.

Thorbjorn Olesen (67) and Marc Warren (66) are tied for third.

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Koepka: 'Surreal' Woods waited to say congrats at PGA

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:47 pm

Brooks Koepka was moved by the respect shown when Tiger Woods waited for a half hour at scoring last Sunday to congratulate Koepka for his PGA Championship victory at Bellerive.

While Koepka stands as an example of the new athletes Woods has attracted to the game, he laughs hearing people compare his body to an NFL player’s.

Those were among the observations Koepka shared Friday on "The Dan Patrick Show."

“That was surreal,” Koepka said of Woods waiting to congratulate him. “To hang around on 18, I wasn’t expecting it. It was probably the coolest gesture he could have done.”

Koepka credits Woods for drawing him to the game.

“He’s the reason I am playing,” Koepka said.

Koepka said playing with Woods in contention was a noisy experience that went beyond the roars Woods created making birdies in front of him.

“Even when he makes contact, you know what shot he’s hitting,” Koepka said. “That’s how loud people are.

“When they are putting [his score] up on the leaderboard, you hear it three holes away.”

About those NFL player comparisons, Koepka said his parents wouldn’t let him play football when he was growing up.

“I wasn’t big enough,” he said.

Koepka said he marveled meeting former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“To be compared to them, it makes me laugh,” Koepka said. “I’m about the size of a cornerback, maybe a free safety.”

Koepka said he’s just over 6 feet tall and weighs 208 pounds.

“I saw Brian Urlacher give an interview,” Koepka said. “It was kind of funny. He said he was impressed at how big I wasn’t ... If I stand next to Justin Thomas, I’m going to look big. Golf doesn’t really have many big guys.”

Koepka told Patrick he is impressed at the athletes just now coming into golf.

“I see the young guys coming out of college,” Koepka said. “They are bombing it past me. They hit it so far, they are leaving me in the dust. It’s hard to think of, because I’ve been one of the longest hitters on tour.”

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McIlroy skipping first FedExCup playoff event

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 3:19 pm

Rory McIlroy committed to playing the FedExCup Playoffs opener at The Northern Trust, the PGA Tour announced after The Open Championship last month.

But McIlroy left the PGA Championship last week saying he might need to skip the opener to regroup, and that’s just what he is doing.

McIlroy wasn’t on The Northern Trust field list published Friday on the PGA Tour’s website.

“I need to assess where I'm at,” McIlroy said leaving Bellerive last week. “I think the best thing for me to do right now is just sort of take a couple days off, reflect on what I need to do going forward.

“The best thing might be to take that first FedExCup week off and work on my game and come back, hopefully, in a better place for Boston.”

McIlroy also skipped the FedExCup opener in 2015, choosing to make his start in the playoffs at Boston that year. It appears he will do the same this year.

“Historically, the first FedEx playoff event hasn't been my best event of the four,” McIlroy said. “I've played well in Boston. I've played pretty well in the other two.”

McIlroy left Bellerive saying he would do some work on his game and see if he felt ready for the playoffs opener as part of a run of big events leading into the Ryder Cup.

“There's a lot of room for improvement,” McIlroy said. “My swing really hasn't been where I want it to be. It was pretty good at the start of the year. I had a couple of months to work on it, but it's just sort of regressed as the season went on and you start to play tournaments, you start to fall back into some of the habits that you don't want to fall back into."

McIlroy has won once over the last two seasons – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last March – but he has given himself other chances this year with some frustrating finishes. Overall, he has five finishes of third or better in 2018. He got himself in the final pairing with Patrick Reed at the Masters but stumbled to a T-5 finish. He tied for second at The Open last month.

“Inconsistency with the swing has been the big area,” McIlroy said. “If you look at my statistics, especially with approach play on my irons, and even my driving, even though it's been OK, there's been a two-way miss, with sort of everything throughout the bag, and that obviously isn't a good thing. So that's something I need to work on.”