First, let me give you a couple of tables. Here are your 2009 top 5 money winners, along with each one’s rank in driving distance, driving accuracy, GIR, scrambling, and putts per round:
...and your top 5 in the world rankings, same stats:
Westwood didn’t play enough on the American tour to get official rankings. Although the Tour does list some for him, scrambling isn’t one of them; hence the “--“. You can find these stats (in more detail) as well as others at PGATour.com.
No surprise that three of the top 5 in each list are the same; the difference comes because the money list is for one year, while the world rankings cover two years. World rankings therefore indicate better play for a longer period of time, although their more recent finishes carry more weight.
Just for comparison (followed by tour average):
- your longest driver, Robert Garrigus, averages 312.0 yards off the tee, TA 287.9 yards;
- your most accurate, Joe Durant, averages 74.09% of fairways hit, TA 62.91%;
- most GIR goes to John Senden, at 70.89%, TA 64.70%;
- scrambling champ Tiger Woods gets up-and-down 68.18% of the time, TA 57.52%; and
- putting whiz Brad Faxon takes only 28.00 putts per round, TA 29.20 ppr.
- Distance: Zach Johnson, T143 (281.2 yards)
- Accuracy: Phil Mickelson, 179 (52.21%)
- GIR: Padraig Harrington, 175 (61.20%)
- Scrambling: Phil Mickelson, T109 (57.53%)
- Putts/Round: Lee Westwood, 163 (29.78 putts)
Phil's stats are skewed, probably because of Amy's cancer battle; he's usually really good in the short game categories. Zach, at 281 off the tee, is 7 yards BELOW the Tour average, yet his accuracy with that drive allows him to compete with the big guys as long as he is close in the other three stats. Note also that Westwood was pretty accurate with his approach shots, hitting more greens than Tiger.
Ball striking DOES still mean something, but we obviously have an unrealistic idea of what a good ball-striker is doing. In driving, the most accurate players still hit less than 75% of fairways; the most accurate of the guys I listed, Zach Johnson, was #10 and hit just under 71.5%. The best players are only hitting about 2/3 of their greens in regulation, then putting really well; and when they miss, they also get it up-and-down about 2/3 of the time. That’s why the putts per round figure is so low—they’re only taking one putt when they miss the green. Let's assume you two-putt most of the time. Twelve greens hit, that's 24 putts; one-putt 4 of the remaining 6 greens for 8 more putts. That’s 32 putts to shoot par-72, but the Tour average is 29 putts and a round of 71. That putting discrepancy means they're making a big number or two as well.
(Let me explain the logic of that, in case you missed it: If 32 putts gets you a 72, then 29 putts should be for a 69, correct? But the 29 actually results in a 71; therefore, they wasted 2 shots somewhere. And if they hit one or more par-5s in 2, they wasted even more shots.)
See? Here’s what the average Tour player is doing, according to Tour stats:
- Regardless of length, hitting 67% of fairways or less (mostly less);
- Hitting less than 67% of greens in regulation;
- Getting it up-and-down less than 67% of the time when they miss (way less);
- Taking 29 putts per round.
And that’s enough golf for this year. Go out and have a great New Year’s Eve!