Stats Dont Nearly Tell Lukes Story

By George WhiteDecember 12, 2005, 5:00 pm
Hes a living, breathing example of just how misleading statistics can be. If all you had to go by were a roomful of stats, you would miss just about all of what makes Luke Donald so successful.
 
Donald won Tiger Woods tournament Sunday. That highlighted a most intriguing year in which Donald was 185th in driving length on tour this year, was 75th in fairways hit, was 83rd in putting ' and still was 17th in earnings with $2,480,562. He finished the year with the second longest consecutive cuts streak of 15.
 
How does he do it? He finishes tied for second in the Buick Invitational outside San Diego; he finishes tied for second in The Players after leading for three rounds, was tied for third at the Masters, tied for sixth at the WCG-NEC. In Europe, the 28-year-old Englishman tied for fourth at the European Masters, tied for third at the Volvo Masters.
 
Luke Donald
Luke Donald's bunker game was part of the reason for his success.
So - again - Just how did he do it? Well, an important clue comes from the greens-hit category. In that important statistic, he was 22nd. And when he didnt hit the green but instead landed in a greenside bunker, he was No. 1 in average distance after he exploded out. He averaged being just over seven feet away from the cup in all his sand shots.
 
And, he was No. 4 in scoring average. So there must have been a little moxie in there, too. He was rarely out of a hole.
 
And, he finally won on Sunday against one of the years stronger fields. That was eye-opening, even if it were only an exhibition.
 
I think it's just a nice feeling to know that I came here and beat a very, very strong field, Donald said. Sixteen of the top 20 players in the world were here. There are a few guys outside the top 20, but it was a very, very strong field, and that's a lot of satisfaction, to know that you can come here, play one bad round, even the first round, and still win.
 
Donald is something of a Renaissance man. A native of Hempstead, England, he went to university at Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb. He remained in Chicago after college when just about every other collegiate golfer was moving to sunny climates - though he has just bought a second home in Jupiter, Fla. Donald is an avid painter and majored in art theory and practice at Northwestern. One of his paintings was sold at auction and fetched $1,640.
 
But on the golf course, he is a get-down-in-the-dirt type of player. He grinds and grinds until he gets close to the top. And on occasion, he goes all the way to the top.
 
The fact that he hasnt gotten there before last week was getting to be a sore point with him. I've had a lot of tournaments where I've had a chance to win, he said, but I haven't. That was really the only frustrating part, really, just not quite closing the deal when I had a chance to win.

But, you know, I think I'm learning from those, and hopefully next year, once you win a couple times, it makes it a lot easier.
 
Of course, it didnt make it any easier that he couldnt get over the hump this year. He rose all the way to No. 14 in the world by the time the last world rankings were published, but he still had this nagging little thing to overcome ' he hadnt won. Until last week, that is.

It did bother me, said Donald. I mean, one of my goals was to win this year. You know, I'll definitely take this one. I would have loved to have won a regular tour event, but winning this is just as good.
 
The one that bothered me the most probably was The Players Championship. I think it was that one that obviously it was a tough final day (he shot 40 on the front side Sunday) with the weather and everything, and a few shots that I hit well ended up costing me. But I still had a good lead playing the final round and didn't win.
 
But here he is, a winner at last. And dont think those statistics of his are an indication of how he has played this year. He has played quite well, actually, and if last week was an indication, hes going to play better next year.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

Getty Images

Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

Getty Images

Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

Getty Images

Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.