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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the U.S. Open

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: U.S. Open

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 St. Jude Classic, and the top finishers from recent U.S. Opens.

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
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
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
Byron Nelson Dufner -11 75.0 2 316.6 9 80.6 1 -0.41 56 0 19 8 0
Crowne Plaza Z. Johnson -12 58.9 26 289.3 52 62.5 37 2.09 3 1 19 7 1
Memorial Woods -9 76.8 14 287.3 16 73.6 1 0.04 42 0 19 6 2
St. Jude D. Johnson -9 57.1 18 301.0 20 69.4 4 0.77 43 1 14 7 0
AVERAGE 64.2 28.1 286.2 38.0 72.9 15.1 1.40 15.0 0.7 19.6 5.9 0.5

Last Week's St. Jude Classic

In a week of a highly populated top 10-15 on the leaderboard everyday, it took water at the 72nd hole to sift out Dustin Johnson, who kept dry for a one-shot 9-under victory.

There had been 20 players crammed in the 3- to 6-under slots after three rounds, and again the 54-hole leaders, Nick O'Hern, Davis Love III and John Merrick, failed to close the deal. The 48-year-old Love was the only golfer in the 60s in all rounds.

Dustin Johnson's ranking of 43rd in Strokes Gained-Putting is the highest of any winner this season other than Jason Dufner, who won the Byron Nelson despite ranking 56th in the category. Last week's winner, Tiger Woods, ranked was 42.

That might seem counterintuitive, but a recent Wall Street Journal report cited a comprehensive study that showed proximity to the hole is more valuable than putting. According to the study, "shots that originate more than 100 yards from the hole have twice the impact on score [than] shots from inside 100 yards - including putting." In other words, it's best long hitters who prosper.

Two years ago Steve Stricker was No. 1 in putting, but Strokes Gained-Putting, which hadn't been put into use, showed Luke Donald No. 1. Measurements for proximity to the hole showed Stricker as No. 1 with a Strokes Gained-Putting rank of seventh.

More information is coming from academics using the ShotLink data. Meanwhile, start including proximity to the hole stats in your compiling your roster.

This Week's U.S. Open

YEAR WINNER COURSE SCORE DRIVE DRIVE FAIRWAYS FAIRWAY GREENS GREENS PUTTS PUTTS
DIS DIS RNK RANK RANK RANK
2011 McIlroy Congressional -16 310.0 7 36 26 62 1 119 29
2010 McDowell Pebble Beach Even 293.8 8 37 34 42 12 110 12
2009 Glover Bethpage Black -2 291.1 8 40 13 52 4 116 11
2008 Woods Torrey Pines -1 320.9 2 30 56 46 14 115 11
2007 Cabrera Oakmont +5 310.9 2 27 48 47 3 124 28
2006 G. Ogilvy Winged Foot +5 306.4 6 32 21 42 13 118 9
2005 M. Campbell Pinehurst 2 Even 294.3 36 36 8 41 16 113 4
2004 Goosen Shinnecock -4 314.0 5 33 12 42 9 111 5
2003 Furyk Olympia Fields -8 295.0 25 39 2 53 1 118 24
2002 Woods Bethpage Blacl -3 280.5 7 41 7 53 1 123 53
2001 Goosen Southern Hills -4 298.3 17 38 15 48 4 115 19
2000 Woods Pebble Beach -12 299.3 1 41 14 51 1 110 6
1999 Stewart Pinehurst 2 -1 255.3 50 44 8 41 8 111 8
1998 Janzen Olympic Club Even 281.3 11 40 3 50 1 118 21
AVERAGE 294.6 13.2 36.2 19.1 46.8 6.3 116.8 17.1

Lee Janzen won the 1998 U.S. OPEN at the Olympic Club, the last time the Open was played here. He also won the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol.

Usually we list the previous year's top finishers for the week's event. But the U.S. Open is, of course, played at a different venue each year. So, this week we've listed winners' stats from Janzen in 1998 through Rory McIlroy in 2011.

While the four statistics included are sparse, the effect of driving distance, which is always important at a U.S. Open, can be matched with fairways hit and greens hit. Total putts vary widely, ranking from fifth to 53rd. Notice driving distance ranked better than GIR. The overall data gives a view of the demands of a course set up by the USGA, which administers U.S. Open competitions.

It has been said the USGA take some degree of umbrage when a very low 72-hole score is recorded. That low number leads to a tougher course set-up at the following year's Open. So if this year's winner turns in a 2- or 3-under, or par, blame Rory McIlroy's record 16-under last year at Congressional.

As could be expected, a number of changes have been made since 1998, the last time the Open came to Olympic Club in San Francisco. A large number of trees have been removed, allowing greater impact from wind blowing off the Pacific Ocean across the street. Both the wind and heavy marine air will make the course play much longer than the 7,170 yards on the card.

The course has a lot of slope to deal with especially on greens. A former PGA Tour pro and 45-year member of the Olympic Club John Abendroth observed, "Tough slopes or trees will make it important to work the ball into the correct spot off the tee." Half the holes have dog-legs and most have narrow fairways and small greens. Augusta National requires excellent second shots and putting, while the Olympic course requires carefully positioned tee shots, excellent second shots to very small greens and talented putting. With half the holes dog-legs, golfers will be using "3-metals" or hybrids, so driving distance might not match past Opens.