This article is part of our Up and Down series.
While the PGA Tour is on pause, Len Hochberg will periodically examine two golfers – one who was playing well when play was halted (Up), and one who was playing poorly at the same time (Down).
He will pinpoint the reasons these players are where they are in the FedExCup Standings and offer some numbers to keep in mind when the season resumes. FedExCup points aren't generally used as a guide, but they are a good indicator of where a golfer stands in relation to others on the PGA Tour this season. He will also look at perhaps the purest stat of all – greens in regulation – as well as birdie or better percentage, an integral component of DFS scoring.
FedExCup Standings rank: 19
Scheffler was the top player on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, so big things were expected of him. Besides being one of the 50 Korn Ferry graduates, he also is one of only 21 official rookies on the PGA Tour. Scheffler has made 11-of-13 cuts and finished in the top 25 seven times and top 10 on four occasions, including two third-place finishes. By almost all accounts, that is really good season to date. He is up to No. 45 in the world rankings, ahead of big names such as Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth and Ian Poulter.
Scheffler really shined in the fall season. A good thing to look at for players who excel in the fall is how they fare once the fields start to get tougher in late January, starting with the Farmers Insurance Open. Scheffler christened 2020 with a solo third in a weak field at The American Express, running his cut streak to a perfect 8-for-8. But he missed the cut at Torrey Pines and then did so again in his next start in Phoenix. It was fair to wonder at that point whether Scheffler's bubble had burst, or at least had started to lose air, whether his success was related to the strength of the fields.
But Scheffler then tied for 30th in a loaded field at Riviera, just missed a top-25 at his first career WGC event and tied for 15th in another stacked field at Bay Hill. Clearly, Scheffler showed he was able to stand tall amid the best golfers in the world. Remember, he's still only 23 years old. By all indications, his first PGA Tour win is not far off.
A Look At The Stats
It's clear to see why Scheffler is doing well. First off, he's a big hitter, which always helps. He ranks 15th on Tour in driving distance at an average of 311.5 yards. Combined with a ranking of 109th in accuracy, which is middle of the pack, that's good for eighth in strokes gained: off the tee. Put simply, that's excellent. The only weak point in Scheffler's game is putting: he's ranked 129th in strokes gained: putting. But even that is more mediocre than bad. And when you see Scheffler's birdie or better percentage rank, that putting number won't look so bad at all.
Greens in regulation rank: 54th
Birdies or better percentage: 4th
FedExCup Standings rank: 205
Rose turns 40 at the end of July, and whenever a golfer gets near that age, it has to be part of the conversation. Rose is ranked a still-impressive 14th in the world, but just about 13 months ago he was No. 1. His slide is now halted by the freezing of the OWGR.
Rose has played four PGA events in 2020. He missed three cuts and tied for 56th at Riviera. It's of course a very small sample size, but the very top golfers rarely go through stretches like that, even in the short term. To put it in perspective, Rose missed three worldwide cuts in all of 2018 and 2019 combined. He began 2020 on the PGA Tour with a trunk-slam at Torrey Pines, where he was the defending champion. That 2019 win was his most recent victory anywhere in the world, by the way. When Rose won the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open, it culminated a 10-event stretch that saw him win twice, finish second twice and finish third twice. That is lights-out golf, but unsustainable under any circumstances.
The Englishman famously switched clubs at the beginning of 2019, ending a decades-long relationship with Taylor Made to sign with little-known Honma. He didn't play all that badly the rest of the year, though he wasn't great. Rose did miss the cut at the Masters, but that was his last MC in 2019.
At Rose's most recent appearance, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he was reportedly down to only one Honma club in his bag. So whenever golf resumes, it will be important to monitor what's in Rose's bag.
A Look At The Stats
Rose has been among the longest hitters for years, and is typically very accurate with his irons. He wasn't a great putter until 2018, and for two years was really great. This season, everything is down, even his distance, which is not usually something that suffers when a player goes sideways. Rose is ranked 115th in driving distance. He is ranked outside the top 150 in five of the six strokes-gained categories, including approach (ranked 167th) and putting (196th). There really hasn't been one part of Rose's game that could be considered positive.
Greens in regulation: 229th (out of 231)
Birdie or better percentage: 176th