Better to be consistent or occasionally brilliant?

By Jason SobelJanuary 22, 2013, 5:39 am

Prior to the first week of this PGA Tour season, I asked a handful of players – granted, those coming off varying degrees of success last year, since the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is a winners-only event – about their goals for 2013.

By and large, the universal response wasn’t about victory totals or world ranking prowess. It was about consistency, just continuing to progress and improve with every week.

That thought stuck with me as I watched Brian Gay close out Charles Howell III on the second playoff hole at the Humana Challenge in a classic case of the opportunistic once again overcoming the consistent. After all, Gay now has four career victories – twice as many as Howell – though you could easily argue that Howell has been twice the player over the span of their careers.

The entire notion of consistency over streakiness may sound like a good talking point, but the bottom line is that golf rewards brief moments of brilliance over long bouts of respectability. So I started crunching some numbers to back up that point.

The first statistic I found didn’t require any heavy lifting as far as calculations, but may be the most surprising number to come out of this past week.

Since 2008, Gay has more PGA Tour victories than Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk or Luke Donald.

If that sounds implausible, it should. Despite his four career victories, Gay is hardly a household name while the other three are toeing the line on superstar status.

And there’s good reason for it. Over the last five-plus seasons, Gay has posted 19 top-10 finishes, half as many as any of the other three, with Kuchar (41), Furyk (39) and Donald (38) the leaders in that category during this time.

What it means is that each of the three superstars has a conversion rate in the single-digits when in contention (for the sake of this debate, a top-10 will be considered as “in contention”), whereas Gay finds the winner’s circle more than a fifth of the time that he’s in the mix.

All of which got me to thinking: Gay, who also won the 2008 Mayakoba Golf Classic and Verizon Heritage and St. Jude Classic one year later, must own one of the better conversion rates for any player who has won this much over that period.

After further crunching, I found that he is one of 16 players to have won at least four times since the beginning of the 2008 season. Many of them are players you would think are on such a list, from Tiger Woods to Phil Mickelson to Rory McIlroy to Ernie Els; some are consistent performers, such as Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan; others remain on the list from wins early in that time, like Geoff Ogilvy and Kenny Perry; and then there are a few under-the-radar winners, basically limited to Mark Wilson and, yes, Brian Gay.

Break down all the stats, though, and you’ll find that Gay’s 21.1 percent conversion rate is actually only in the middle of the pack for this group (all numbers since the beginning 2008):

Player Top-10s Wins Conversion rate
Tiger Woods 33 13 39.4
Kenny Perry 16 5 31.3
Rory McIlroy 22 6 27.3
Zach Johnson 25 6 24
Mark Wilson 17 4 23.5
Phil Mickelson 35 8 22.9
Geoff Ogilvy 18 4 22.2
Steve Stricker 38 8 21.1
Bubba Watson 19 4 21.1
Brian Gay 19 4 21.1
Dustin Johnson 30 6 20
Bill Haas 20 4 20
Justin Rose 21 4 19
Ernie Els 23 4 17.4
Nick Watney 28 4 14.3
Hunter Mahan 28 4 14.3

What can we take from this? Well, quite frankly, I wouldn’t read all that much into it. Sure, maybe players such as Woods and McIlroy are able to step on the gas pedal and turn title contentions into titles more often than others, but that doesn’t conversely mean that the likes of Watney and Mahan curl up and wilt from the pressure on Sunday afternoons.

For that, we would have to look at players who haven’t won as much over this time period. Then again, it would be difficult to criticize the last half-decade for Kuchar, Furyk and Donald. Obviously each has faltered at times when contending down the stretch, but so have most of the players on the four-win list, as well.

Still, it’s interesting that most pros preach consistency over everything else – and maybe it does make sense. After all, ask yourself this question: Would you rather have the career of Gay over the past five-plus years or that of Kuchar, Furyk or Donald? It’s an interesting question, no matter the answer.

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Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole, No. 9.

Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

"I'm not," harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from some TV cables, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.

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Na (62) leads Hoffman by one at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 24, 2018, 10:38 pm

Kevin Na leads the Fort Worth Invitational by one over Charley Hoffman following a first-round 8-under 62. Here's where things stand through 18 holes at Colonial.

Leaderboard: Na (-8), Hoffman (-7), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Andrew Putnam (-6), Beau Hossler (-6)

What it means: The veteran Na is in search of just his second PGA Tour victory in 367 events played. The 34-year-old's lone victory came at the 2011 Shriners to go along with nine runner-ups, the most recent of which was a tie for second at this year's Genesis Open. Na missed three straight cuts in April but has rallied back with a weekend stay at The Players and a T-6 at last week's Byron Nelson. Ranked 75th in the world, he is not currently qualified for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship. 

Round of the day: Na turned in a clean card Thursday with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 first, his 10th hole of the day. He closed with a chip-in birdie at No. 9 following a friendly disagreement with his caddie (more on that below). 

Best of the rest: Hoffman was likewise bogey-free, drawing seven circles. The four-time Tour winner and typically steady performer has yet to register a top-10 finish this season.

Biggest disappointment: Not that a round of 1 under is tragically disappointing, but Jordan Spieth has a pretty solid history of going low at this event and contending for the title. He's seven back through Round 1.

Shot of the day: Satoshi Kodaira recorded the second albatross in tournament history when he holed a 3-iron from 234 yards at the first.

Honorable mention: Na got into a pretty good back-and-forth with his caddie about whether to lay up or try to clear the water from the right rough at No. 9. Na went for it, avoided hazard, and holed this chip for birdie. 

Quote of the day: "I told you." - Na, after his chip-in

Golf Channel's NCAA Golf Coverage Continues Mon-Wed., May 28-30 With the NCAA Men's Golf Championships

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 24, 2018, 10:24 pm

Two National Championships to be Decided Over a Three-Day Span – Individual (Mon., May 28) and Team (Wed., May 30)

 Eight of the Top-10 Ranked Programs in the Country Set to Compete; Reigning NCAA Men’s National Champions Oklahoma and Current Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Paired Together Starting Friday

 Buick and Stifel Co-Presenting Sponsors of Golf Channel’s Coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships

ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2018 – Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s dramatic championship match where Arizona defeated Alabama in a playoff to claim their third women’s golf team national championship, Golf Channel returns to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. next week for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf National Championships. Taking place Monday-Wednesday, May 28-30, Golf Channel’s coverage will feature nearly 30 hours of live tournament and on-site wraparound news coverage, showcasing the top men’s college golf programs in the country.

NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage: Coverage begins on Monday, May 28 to crown the individual national champion and to track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30 will include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion.

In addition, Golf Central will surround live tournament action with pre-and post-event news coverage produced on-site at Karsten Creek Golf Club, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online via Golf Channel Digital. News and tournament coverage also will be live streamed on Golf Channel Digital. College Central, Golf Channel’s online home for college golf, will provide comprehensive editorial coverage throughout the championships.

Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May   28

Individual   National Championship

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Tuesday, May   29

Quarterfinals,   Team Match Play

11   a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday,   May 29

Semifinals,   Team Match Play

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Wednesday, May   30

Team Match   Play National Championship

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Stifel and Buick Sign on as Co-Presenting Sponsors for Golf Channel’s NCAA Golf Championships Tournament Coverage: New for 2018, Stifel Financial Corp. and Buick have signed on as co-presenting sponsors for Golf Channel’s tournament coverage of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. In addition, Stifel has extended its partnership with the Fred Haskins Commission, Golf Channel and Golfweek as presenting sponsor of the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to nation’s outstanding male collegiate golfer.Golf Channel will announce the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel following the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, on a live edition of Golf Central, Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The show will include profiles on the top candidates for the award and a live interview with the winner, who also will receive an exemption to compete in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR. The Haskins Award honors the nation’s most outstanding male Division I collegiate golfer as selected by his peers, coaches and the golf media.

Semifinal Teams in Match Play to Receive Invitations to Compete in East Lake Cup: The East Lake Cup, taking place in late October at historic East Lake Golf Club, will feature the top-performing teams from the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Invitations for the field have been extended to Arizona, Alabama, Southern California and Stanford – semifinalists in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, and also will be extended to the semifinalists in the Men’s Championships. Modeled after the NCAA Golf Championships, the format for the East Lake Cup consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition. Golf Channel will air live coverage of the East Lake Cup Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-31.

College Central – Golf Channel Digital Coverage: Golf Channel will provide comprehensive coverage via College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, and Ryan Lavner, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.

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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.

Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open

Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics: