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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Number 4 at #1

After Phil Mickelson beat Lee Westwood at the Masters, he said he told Lee, "There's nothing I can say -- it sucks. But you're playing too good not to win soon."

Perhaps Lee decided sooner was better than later. After a 7-under round on Friday, he's leading THE PLAYERS. (Yes, I've been informed that if I don't put it in ALL CAPS, they'll put my name on one of those handicap parking spaces, like Stephanie Wei says they did to Sergio Garcia.) TGC did a listener poll Friday night, asking simply whether Westwood would win or not, and only 35% believe he will. (Although, as was pointed out, that's a pretty large number when you're picking one player against the field.)

I can't tell you whether he will or not, but I can give you a quick look at some of his stats for the last couple of days from PGATour.com (these are the averages for the two days):
  • Driving Distance: 284.8 yards
  • Driving Accuracy (DA): 71.4%
  • GIR: 80.6%
  • Putts per Round: 27.5
  • Putts per GIR: 1.586
And here are the extra stats I created a few days ago:
  • Missed Greens (MG): 3.5
  • Difference Putts (DP): 4.5
  • Scramble Putting (SP): 2.286
My extra stats are important here simply because of one generally-accepted fact: Lee Westwood's weakest skill is probably chipping. How well he handles it could have a big effect on how he scores. A perfect Scramble Putting score of 0.0 means he took only one putt per missed green -- i.e., he got "up and down" on every hole. For comparison purposes, an SP between 2 and 3 is about the best you can get without being perfect.

My 67 rule says that you need to do better than 67% on your DA and GIR stats to have a good shot. Watching these stats this year has proven that GIR is the most important if you are a long hitter; Lee is pretty average at around 285 yards. However, his DA is over 71% and his GIR is over 80% -- both are pretty incredible, and perhaps an indication that the course is indeed playing much easier than normal.

But even more incredible are the MG and SP figures. He's not missing many greens, but he's getting up and down almost every time. If he keeps this up, I'm not sure anybody can catch him...

Well, after spot-checking a few figures, I think there is one guy who has a legitimate chance, and Golf Girl Patricia Hannigan is gonna love it. That man is Italian player Francesco Molinari; he's only one stroke behind, is matching Lee pretty much drive-for-drive, is hitting more greens... and is nearly perfect (0.0) at the fine art of getting up and down.

I'm viewing this as my first test of my stats. I realize that past performance is no indication of what may happen over the next two days, but I'd keep my eye on Westwood and Molinari.

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