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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the PGA Championship

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 entering this week's PGA Championship

NOTICE: The results grid was reduced for easier reading, starting with the U.S. Open. However, the AVERAGE statistics at the bottom of the grid will continue to reflect the data from completed 2011 tournaments. For results from earlier events, go here.

U.S. Open R. McIlroy, -16 64.326 310.07 86.11 1.65 29.729 1/19 3/1
Travelers Champ. F. Jacobson, -20 85.7 9 274.6 46 72.2 34 1.67 11 26.5 3 0/21 1/0
AT&T National N. Watney -13 69.6 10 320.8 4 70.8 27 1.67 3 27.8 2 1/20 9/0
John Deere Classic S. Stricker -22 64.3 58 318.0 12 73.6 33 1.55 1 25 1 1/25 3/1
Viking Classic C. Kirk -22 64.3 43 292.0 12 79.2 12 1.63 10 27.3 12 1/24 4/0
British Open D. Clarke -5 41.0 311.7 70.829.7 2/14 11/1
Canadian Open S. O'Hair P1 -4 58.9 27 299.6 3 59.7 19 1.84 61 28.8 36 0/17 13/0
Canadian Open K. Blanks P2 -4 69.6 7 283.6 42 70.8 1 1.78 43 30 66 1/14 10/1
Greenbrier ClassicS. Stallings P1 62.5 54 323.5 5 79.2 2 1.72 19 30 53 0/19 9/0
BridgestoneA. Scott -17 64.3 15 319.6 6 70.8 9 1.63 4 26.54 0/21 4/0
AVERAGE 64.825.7 299.0 21.9 72.7 15.0 1.67 14.4 27.8 15.8


Adam Scott's win at the Bridgestone was a demonstration of bogey avoidance. He had 5.25 birdies against one of his four bogeys (21 birdies, four bogeys). Scott started with a first-round, bogey-free, eight-under 62 and poured it on in the bogey-free closing round five-under 65. He truly sucked out all of the air in the final round.

Two years ago Scott was the guy who couldn't eke out a win, even against lesser-talented fields. One particular problem was shoddy putting. This year, Scott, who still has his tee-shot 300-yard length, is now showing a deadly putter at the other end of the fairway where the game is won. His T-2 at the Masters was based on fine putting.

Note that the 20-somethings (plus a 19-year old) were in the top 6: Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Ryo Ishikawa, Kyung-Tae Kim and Rory McIlroy. If Keegan Bradley didn't blow up with a closing 74, he too would be on the list.

Youth is coming on.


David Toms returns to the Atlanta Athletic Club where he won the 2001 PGA Championship with a major-championship scoring record 15-under 265. The Highlands course will again be the venue.

Last April, the Wall Street Journal ran a column, The Count, headlined, "Is The Masters the Easiest Major to Win?" The research data needed for an answer was developed by Richard Rendelman of the Tuck School of Business and Robert Connolly of the University of North Carolina.

They gathered round-by-round results for each player at every tournament from 2003-2009. They processed their developed data running 10,000 simulations of each tournament to determine the average minimum score required to win, factoring in the size and overall quality of the field.

They determined the PGA Championship is the toughest major, followed by the U.S. Open, the British Open and the Masters. The hardest overall tournament was The Players Championship and the easiest the Puerto Rico Open. Results shown are the average of the tournament's ranking from each year between 2003-2009.

Players Championship2.71
PGA Championship3.14
U.S. Open3.43
British Open3.71
The Masters4.57
The Barclays (FedEx)7.33
Deutsche Bank (FedEx)7.33
WGC Bridgestone7.86

2001 PGA Championship
at the Atlanta Athletic Club Highlands Course - Par 70

1. David Toms 66-65-65-69=265 -15 (Hole-in-one in round three.)
2. Phil Mickelson 66-66-66-68=266 -14
3. Steve Lowery 67-67-66-68=268 -12
T4. Mark Calcavecchia 71-68-66-65=270 -10
Shingo Katayama 67-64-69-70=270
6. Billy Andrade68-70-68-66=272 -8
T7. Scott Hoch68-70-69-67=274 -6
Scott Verplank69-68-70-67=274
Jim Furyk70-64-71-69=274
T10. David Duval66-68-67-74=275 -5
Justin Leonard 70-69-67-67=275
Kirk Triplett68-70-71-66=275

Low round of event: Mark O'Meara round-two 63

The same course will be the venue this year setting the same par 70. In the just completed Bridgestone Invitational, five of the top six players scored the low round of the day in the first three rounds. From what is shown in 2001, there were no excursions of 62 and three 64s as has happened this week. It will be interesting to see if the 2011 version at the Atlanta Athletic Club mirrors the 2001 scores.

As usual, greens-in-regulation, strong putting and scrambling will be vital. Add the need for superior par-4 play, which is very important in par-70 set-ups. One needed attribute that can't be reduced to numbers is patience - always a plus at a major.

It's going to be interesting!
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