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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the Byron Nelson

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: Byron Nelson Championship

Each week we'll list the statistical breakdown of the upcoming PGA Tour event. Below are the results of recent tournaments, including last week's The Players Championship, and the top finishers from last year's Byron Nelson Championship.

The results grid was reduced for easier reading, starting with the Masters. However, the AVERAGE statistics at the bottom of the grid reflect data from completed 2012 tournaments.

For results from earlier events, go here.

For last year's full-season results, go here.

2012 PGA Tour Events

EVENT WINNER DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE GIR GIR STK GN PUTTS EAGLE BIRDIE BOGEY DBL BOG
%of56 RNK DIS DIS RNK %of72 RNK /PUTT RNK
The Masters 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
Zurich Dufner -19 P1 64.3 31 291.0 35 72.2 25 1.53 6 1 21 4 0
Wells Fargo Fowler -14 P1 62.5 2 305.9 13 79.2 5 0.68 30 1 22 8 1
The Players Kuchar -13 62.5 37 280.6 47 73.6 3 2.09 2 0 22 9 0
AVERAGE 63.7 30.9 283.6 40.9 73.2 16.1 1.57 10.6 0.7 19.9 5.6 0.4

Last Week's The Players Championship

Those groans you hear are coming from fantasy golf fans who watched some of the prime "name" players miss the cut while many who did make the cut sagged down as third- and fourth-round scores were posted.

It's useless to name names, but it is useful to remember that headliners have flaws and sometimes a bunch of them have an off-day at the same time.

Or, maybe it was the previous week's stress that took away a lot of starch, amplified stress and tension that carried over to yet another first-class tough track.

Matt Kuchar is one more player coming from being behind the 54-hole leader (by one shot to Kevin Na this time) to join the high pressure cauldron for 18 holes. Kuchar, ranked third hitting greens and fifth for both putts-per-GIR and putts-per-round, was saluting the formula to PGA Tour success.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Shot-Link data by the PGA Tour reveals that from 2004 through 2011, only 11 of the 323 Tour winners led the field in driving distance compared with 47 winners who led the field in strokes gained-putting. Putting also beat driving accuracy by an even bigger margin - 33 percent of Tour winners finished outside the top 30 in driving distance, but only 13 percent of winners finished outside the top 30 in putting.

Simply said, putting trumps both driving distance and driving accuracy. When fairways are narrow or rough is tall, common sense says accuracy and the short grass helps greatly in getting to the green. A review of our list of 2011 and this year's winners will show the data in depth.

This Week's Byron Nelson Championship


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 Byron Nelson K.Bradley -3 P1 58.9 10 316.8 7 65.3 6 1.85 47 29.5 45 0/13 10/0
Palmer -3 P2 46.4 57 321.0 5 63.9 13 1.74 14 28.8 25 0/17 14/0
Oglivie -2 58.9 10 303.3 27 59.7 30 1.61 2 26.8 2 1/19 17/1
Imada -2 60.7 7 275.1 70 73.6 1 1.79 29 30.5 64 0/15 11/1
J. Day -1 39.3 67 305.8 20 61.1 22 1.68 5 27.8 8 0/22 12/3/1
Rollins EV 64.3 4 294.8 45 51.4 61 1.73 11 27.3 4 0/17 13/2
Kuchar EV 55.4 25 297.1 40 65.3 6 1.79 26 29.3 40 1/12 10/2
AVERAGE 54.8 25.7 302.0 30.6 62.9 19.9 1.74 19.1 28.6 26.9

The above recap of the seven top finishers at the 2011 Nelson shows a startlingly high winner's score, 3-under. The '11 Canadian Open was won by Sean O'Hair at 4-under and the '11 British Open was won by Darren Clarke at 5-under. Topping them all is Graeme McDowell's even-par win at the 2010 U.S. Open. This hardly places the Nelson in the Major category, and we expect the winning score will be lower this year.

The TPC Four Seasons-Las Colinas course in Irving, Texas, is a tough par-70 that takes no prisoners. The plain birdie-to-bogey comparison shows how a low birdie sum is eroded by the relative high number of bogeys. Jason Day racked up 22 birdies on the tough course, but 12 bogeys plus three doubles and one "other" squelched Day's chances of winning last year. Day, the 2010 Nelson winner, also had a concentrated problem last year in which he was 7-over just at the 11th hole.

The seven players shown, all of whom are in this year's field, were the only who shot par or better for the week last year! This will change.

The Players winner, Matt Kuchar, is in the field as is Phil Mickelson, 2008 winner Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh, adding some muscle to the event.

Jordan Spieth, a talented 16-year-old at the time, tied for 16th at 4-under in 2010 and T36 plus-6 in 2011 He's now on the golf team at University of Texas.

Last year's Low Rounds of the Day:

Round 1 - 6-under 64, Jeff Overton
Round 2 - 5-under 65, Steven Bowdich
Round 3 - 3-under 67, Arjun Atwal (heavy wind)
Round 4 - 4-under 66, James Driscoll (very windy)

All are in the 2012 field.

Last Five Winners:

2011 - Keegan Bradley, 3-under 277 P1
2010 - Jason Day, 10-under 270
2009 - Rory Sabbatini, 19-under 261
2008 - Adam Scott, 7-under 273
2007 - Scott Verplank, 13-under 267


All are in the 2012 field.

Needed here are birdies at par-4s, take advantage at the par-5s, proximity to the hole, bogey avoidance and a hot putter.