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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rory's Stats... and I Create Three New Ones

I couldn't resist taking a look at Rory McIlroy's stats (from after that awesome weekend of his. While there's been a huge focus on Sunday's 62 (as there rightly should be) and some mention that he made the cut right on the number Friday night, very little has been said about the 66 he shot Saturday. Shooting 66-62 for a 128 total on the weekend? That's gonna win you a lot of tournaments!

I'm going to point out a few high points of each round; where I've combined stats I'll list the 3rd round first, then the 4th. Hopefully we can pick out a few helpful hints for our weekend rounds. Ready?
  • Round 3: 9 birdies, 6 pars, 3 bogeys
  • Round 4: 1 eagle, 8 birdies, 9 pars
It's no big surprise that he only had 3 bogeys and nothing worse; you have to avoid the big numbers if you want to go low. Of course, 17 birdies and 1 eagle really stand out... but let's not overlook the 15 pars. Rory shot an entire round of birdies (or better) and almost an entire round of pars as well. For most of us weekenders, pars are birdies; thinking birdie is kinda destructive for us. Planning our play to maximize pars will probably give us our best chance to make birdies.

How well did Rory do with my 67 Rule?

Not so hot in the Driving Accuracy department. He averaged 53.5% (50%, 57%) -- which, ironically enough, was pretty much his average for the week (53.6, according to His best day was Friday -- 64% -- and his worst was Thursday -- 43%. I guess this was offset somewhat by his ridiculously long driving average of 323 yards (318.5, 328). Thursday was also his worst distance-wise, at a mere 288 yards. Bear in mind that distances are generally measured on only 2 holes, so this may not represent his typical distance on each hole; nevertheless, he was definitely playing "bomb-and-gouge" this week.
But please note: His worst scoring day of the week, Friday, was 2nd-best distance day (320 yards) and his most accurate day (64%). Neither his distance or driving accuracy had much effect on his scoring.
When we look at GIR, however, things change. He was at 64% the first 2 days (67% and 61%), but 86% over the weekend (83% and 89%). That's a 22-point difference -- HUGE! They didn't give us a Scrambling stat, but he clearly didn't miss many greens (my best calculations are 12-11-15-16 greens hit, or 31 out of 36 over the weekend). He was T4 in GIR for the week, but I'm thinking he must have led the field over the weekend.

Finally, his Total Putts for the week were 31-31-32-26. He was only 4 putts better on the weekend than the first two days, yet he was 1-over the first two days and 16-under the last two. Now the Tour provides a stat called "Putts per GIR" (PpGIR) or average number of putts per green hit in regulation. These numbers for the week were 1.833-2-1.8-1.5... and they probably make no sense to most of you. What it means is that, for example, in the third round, if he hit a GIR, he averaged 1.8 putts on that green. Since I figured out that he hit 15 greens that day, he took 1.8 putts * 15 greens for a total of 27 putts on greens. Since he took a total of 32 putts that day, he took 32 - 27, or 5 putts on the remaining 3 greens.

Perhaps I've been talking to the Constructivist and HoundDog too much, but I've been looking for some kind of stat to help me compare player short games better than the PGA Scrambling stat (which often isn't available anyway). As a result I'm creating 3 new stats for the missed greens, which I'm giving the highly imaginative name of "Missed Greens" or MG; the putts taken on those greens, which I'm calling "Difference Putts" or DP; and the combined stat called"Scramble Putting" or SP. SP is figured by squaring the Difference Putts, dividing by Missed Greens, then subtracting the Missed Greens:
Greens hit = GIR * 18
MG (Missed Greens) = 18 - Greens hit
DP (Difference Putts) = Total Putts - (PpGIR * Greens hit)
SP (Scramble Putting) = (DP2 / MG) - MG
Unlike PpGIR, SP isn't a number of putts -- it's more like a distance from perfect play; the higher your number, the worse your scrambling was. Here's how it works:
  • The perfect player will have an SP equal to 0.0, meaning they took only one putt on each green they missed -- i.e., they got up-and-down.
  • If a player chipped in some as well, their SP can go negative, telling us they took less than 1 putt per missed green. (If you miss 1 green and chip in, your SP is -1; the numbers go more negative as you miss more greens, even if you chip in on all of them.)
  • If the player hits every single green, there's no SP because you can't put a 0 in the bottom of the formula... but that's as it should be, since SP measures play on missed greens. I doubt that will happen very often anyway.
I've decided to figure SP to 3 decimal places, like the PGA does their stats.

Here's the breakdown for Rory's week (by day) of his Total Putts, Total putts per GIR, Difference Putts, Missed Greens, and Scramble Putting:
  • Total Putts: 31 - 31 - 32 - 26
  • Total PpGIR: 22 - 22 - 27 - 24
  • Total DP: 9 - 9 - 5 - 2
  • Total MG: 6 - 7 - 3 - 2
  • Total SP: 7.5 - 4.571 - 5.333 - 0.0
I bet you can see a difference over the weekend, can't you? Rory not only had an awesomely-low MG over the weekend, but a perfect SP on Sunday. I don't know how useful these new stats will ultimately be, but you don't have to be a genius to see the huge difference between his scoring early in the week versus the weekend. (A note of explanation: Friday's SP is lower than Saturday's because Rory took fewer putts per missed green. SP is meant to be used in conjunction with MG to get a full picture; obviously 3 MG is better than 7.)

For most of us weekend players -- especially those of us who don't bomb it 300+ yards -- Driving Accuracy will remain important. But even the pros can't escape GIR, Putts per GIR, and Scrambling, which I'm tracking with my Missed Greens and Scramble Putting stats. If we want to score low, we’ve got to hit more GIR and scramble better. Rory went through the roof with all three, and was rewarded with a win and a new course record to boot.


  1. Yes. Rory's weekend was absolutely sick!

    Jim Dauer

  2. Can't wait to see what he does at the Players this week. Can he follow it up, or will he have the standard "next week let-down"?