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Friday, November 23, 2012

Well, Dubai Had a Few Surprises Left After All!

The Race to Dubai is a done deal, but at least there's a little excitement brewing in the desert. After the first round, OWGR #2 Luke Donald led the tournament by one stroke over #1 Rory McIlroy. As I'm writing this, the second round is barely underway and neither man has teed off yet.

This battle between #1 and #2 fascinates me because of how different the two players are from each other, yet neither really stands out from the rest of the players on tour. Let me explain that a little more, because I think it may help some of you who are worried that your game isn't good enough to compete against... well, whoever you choose to play against.

Neither man is above average height -- both are listed at 5'9" on the ET site. Most of the guys up near the top of the ranks are 6' or taller.

Rory's fairly long off the tee -- listed at 302 this year. Yet Luke, listed at 288, can score with the best of them. The distance difference is offset by the accuracy difference -- Rory's at 59% while Luke's at 69%.

Rory's better in GIR this year -- a little over 79% vs just under 72% for Luke.

Luke's total putting strokes per round is two strokes better than Rory's -- 28.5 vs 30.5.

How do these differences work out in stroke average? It's ridiculously close, with Rory's 69.98 average barely edging out Luke's 70.12. That means Rory outscored Luke this year by just over a half-stroke... for an entire tournament! A half-stroke over four rounds is basically what separates #1 from #2. (Last year Luke edged Rory by .04 strokes per round, or a sixth of a stroke over four rounds.)

GC did a comparison of the two on Golf Central which showed another difference. The main difference between the two -- other than Rory winning 4 times vs Luke's 3 -- was that Luke missed one cut while Rory missed 5. (That's for both tours.)

All-in-all, Luke held #1 for 24 weeks during 2012 while Rory held it for 22 weeks.

My point is that there's more than one way to win at this game. Rory is more "explosive" while Luke is more consistent. Luke's Driving Accuracy and GIR were off this year compared to 2011, which may have cost Luke that #1 spot more than Rory's wins did. But what you need to see is that you can win with either power or accuracy -- it's rare for anyone to have both for any period of time. Build your game around your strengths and you'll be surprised how well you can score.

It'll be interesting to see if Luke, who's clearly rediscovered some of his accuracy over the last few weeks, can beat Rory's power at Dubai. He's certainly off to a good start.

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