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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the Zurich Classic

Ed Cushing

Ed Cushing

Cushing covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire, bringing a sabermetric approach to golf stats. Retired and living in the mountains of North Carolina, Cushing is in the running for the Most Interesting Man in Fantasy Sports. He's golfed the Doral Blue Monster, Harbour Town GC, Hilton Head and Augusta National, among many other tough courses. A classically trained pianist, Cushing still plays professionally. He roots for the University of Virginia because the Cavaliers may lose the game, but they ALWAYS win the party. He also made a fortune off the '72 Dolphins.

PGA TOUR STATS: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Each week we'll list the statistical breakdown of the upcoming PGA Tour event. Below are the results of last week's Texas Open and the top finishers from last year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans. For last year's full-season results, go here.

2012 PGA Tour Events

EVENT WINNER DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE GIR GIR STK GN PUTTS EAGLES BIRDIE BOGEY DBL BOG
%of56 RNK DIS DIS RNK %of72 RNK /PUTT RNK
TOC Stricker -23 66.7 11 268.3 15 81.9 13 1.25 3 1 26 3 1
Sony Wagner -13 41.1 56 276.4 68 70.8 10 1.58 3 2 17 8 0
Humana M. Wilson -24 74.1 18 279.3 69 80.6 73 1.04 4 2 24 4 0
Farmers Snedeker -16 P1 58.9 13 284.8 47 70.8 33 1.03 12 0 24 8 0
Phoenix K. Stanley -15 60.7 24 287.5 70 79.2 3 1.14 11 2 18 7 0
Pebble Bch Mickelson -17 61.8 62 272.8 58 75.0 3 3.33 1 1 19 4 0
Nor. Trust Haas -7 P1 55.4 50 279.8 30 50.0 58 2.25 3 1 15 10 0
Mayakoba Huh -13 P1 73.2 8 279.3 44 81.9 1 N/A 28 1 18 5 1
Honda McIlroy -12 60.7 37 297.6 8 66.7 10 1.57 5 0 17 5 0
WGC-Cad. Rose -16 57.1 78 290.0 28 65.3 17 0.11 33 0 23 7 0
Transitions Donald -13 P1 73.1 9 261.1 75 66.7 43 2.59 1 1 17 6 0
Arnold Palmer Woods -13 64.3 29 294.6 11 79.2 1 1.45 4 0 20 5 1
Houston Mahan -16 67.9 33 279.9 50 86.1 1 1.61 5 0 18 2 0
Master Watson -10 P1 66.0 48 290.4 4 73.6 4 1.67 37 0 19 0 0
Heritage Pettersson -14 66.1 39 279.1 31 69.4 1 1.24 10 0 22 6 1
Texas Curtis -9 73.2 2 289.1 74 68.1 1 2.06 3 0 17 4 2
AVERAGE 63.8 32.3 281.9 42.6 72.8 17.0 1.60 10.2 0.7 19.6 5.3 0.4

Last Week's Texas Open

As this tournament progressed, it seemingly appeared to be a parade in reverse. As often said, "The course won this week."

Matt Every opened with a course-record 9-under 63. Eventual winner Ben Curtis got to 10-under in round two while Every slipped to 6-under, In round three, Curtis slipped to 9-under while Every slipped again to 6-under. Curtis' birdie at 18 (72nd hole) brought him back to 9-under where he started the day. Hardly a swashbuckling finish.

Every's strong start set him up to earn the win, but he sputtered again and again in rounds two and three. After nine birdies (no bogeys) in round one, he then had nine birdies and 11 bogeys in rounds two, three and four. His putting stats tell the tale: in four rounds his strokes gained-putting was 0.099, ranking 51st. Curtis, meanwhile, finished at ranked third at 2.061.

In our pre-tournament article we noted that 23 players shot in the 80s here in 2011. This year's total in the 80s is 25. One might wonder if this tournament could see difficulty in attracting quality fields because of the course and/or the setup, which already has a reputation of being tough. One player compared the setup to that of a U.S. Open. This could be interpreted as a compliment, but probably was a complaint.

With the difficult Quail Hollow course (Wells Fargo Championship) getting high compliments from players followed by the demanding Players Championship, there will be those who reason, "why get beat up two weeks before going to difficult and prestigious layouts."

This Week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans

EVENT WINNER DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE GIR GIR PUTTS PUTTS EAGLE/ BOGEY/
%of56 RNK DIS DIS RNK %of72 RNK Per GIR RNK RND RNK BIRDIE DBL
2011 Zurich Watson -15 P1 71.4 13 331.4 1 80.6 1 1.74 41 29.3 57 3/16 5/1
Simpson -15 P2 75.0 9 298.8 16 79.2 3 1.72 34 28.8 48 1/18 5/0
Dufner -13 66.1 28 292.6 26 77.8 6 1.71 31 28.8 48 0/21 6/1
Gainey -13 60.7 52 296.1 20 70.8 15 1.69 17 28.3 30 0/20 7/9
Choi -13 66.1 28 292.3 28 79.2 3 1.68 16 28.8 48 1/20 9/0
M. Jones -12 57.1 65 304.3 5 70.8 15 1.65 6 27.5 14 1/18 8/0
McNeil -12 62.5 46 288.3 41 69.4 18 1.70 24 28.3 30 0/19 7/0
AVERAGE 65.6 34.4 300.5 19.6 75.4 8.7 1.70 24.1 28.5 39.3


Bubba Watson, who won the Farmers Insurance Open in late January last season, captured his second 2011 trophy prevailing in a playoff at the Zurich with Webb Simpson. He again was first in driving distance and No. 1 again in greens-in-regulation. Watson made 16 birdies, seven of which were at par-4 holes where his distance off the tee puts a wedge in his hand for his second shots. While his putting stats are not standouts, they certainly aren't shabby.

Watson's three eagles are a product of those power shots off the tee, but you also have to recognize his accuracy with his irons coupled with strong putting skills. Many of the "bombers" get way down the fairway/rough then struggle getting to the green.

Needs and attributes for the Zurich: Total driving, strong iron play, GIR, proximity to the hole, scrambling and talented putting.

Daily low rounds:

Round one - 66 (6-under) Bubba Watson and Matt Jones
Round two - 64 (8-under) Dean Wilson
Round three 65 (7-under) George McNeil
Round four 66 (6-under) Jason Dufner

At the 15th hole in the 2011 closing round, Simpson had a one-foot tap-in for par. After setting his stance and grounding his putter, he drew back the putter initiating his stroke when the ball moved. Simpson was assessed a one-stroke penalty. He was 16-under at the time and leading Watson by one stroke, thus the bogey dropped Simpson to a tie with Watson at 15-under.

Later in the year the incident was reviewed, resulting in an exemption in Rule 18-2b: "If it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause his ball to move, Rule 18-2b does not apply."

As you can see below, first-time winners can show up. Plan accordingly.

Last five winners (all are in this year's field):

2011 - Bubba Watson, 15-under
2010 - Jason Bohn, 18-under (first PGA Tour win)
2009 - Jerry Kelly, 14-under
2008 - Andres Romero, 13-under (first PGA Tour win)
2007 - Nick Watney, 15-under (first PGA Tour win)
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