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The Numbers Game: Eight Winners by the Numbers


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By Dave Koster via TheSandTrap.com
We've had eight winners on tour so far and they have been a variety of players… some long, some short. Some people have focused in on one type of player and ignored the rest. The numbers of all eight show us that things really haven't changed.

tng_title.gifEight tournaments up and eight tournaments down. We've had a long hitter (JB Holmes) win at the FBR and a few not-so-long hitters (David Toms, Arron Obelholser) win at Waialae and Pebble Beach. Another thing we've also had is a lot of talk, discussion and consternation in our forums and from an old friend.



I've taken each winner's numbers and see if they agree with one side or the other… or even both. Read on to see what it says.

The Numbers
In writing this column, I've come to expect surprises. Nearly every week, there's some surprise or another. This week, the surprise was that the data continues to prove what we've already learned. Here are the rankings for each player in their respective tournament:



Tournament Winner DD DA PPR PA GIR
---------- ------ -- -- --- -- ---
Mercedes Champ Stuart Appleby 2 7 1 6 5
Sony Open David Toms 11 9 3 1 2
Bob Hope Chr Clsc Chad Campbell 34 37 6 4 12
Buick Invitational Tiger Woods 5 55 41 36 9
FBR Open JB Holmes 13 62 1 8 33
AT&T Pebble Beach Arron Oberholser 64 9 1 1 40
Nissan Open Rory Sabbatini 6 65 20 3 6
Chrysler Classic Kirk Triplett 41 16 1 12 11
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Averages 22 32.5 9.25 8.88 14.75

And here are the actual values:



Tournament Winner DD DA PPR PA GIR
---------- ------ -- -- --- -- ---
Mercedes Appleby 274.0 76.7 29.3 1.808 72.2
Sony Open Toms 307.4 55.4 27.3 1.630 75.0
Bob Hope Campbell 290.2 63.8 27 1.603 75.6
Buick Invit Woods 306.3 46.4 30 1.774 73.6
FBR Open Holmes 308.0 55.4 27 1.660 69.4
Pebble Beach Oberholser 259.3 80.0 25.8 1.522 63.9
Nissan Open Sabbatini 297.9 46.4 27.5 1.646 66.7
Chrysler Class Triplett 296.5 71.4 26.8 1.638 80.6
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Averages 292.45 61.94 27.59 1.660 72.1

GIR and Putting… Again
I keep repeating this over and over, but the data keeps forcing me to do it. I don't get tired of saying that putting and Greens in Regulation (GIR) are the clear paths to victory - putting especially. Other than Tiger Woods, all the players that won tournaments finished in the top 10 in either (or both) of the putting stats. Arron Oberholser finished first in both! There were six different times a winning player finished first in a putting stat… none of the other stats had a single one.



As for GIR, it averaged slightly behind putting. This was the runner-up in the "surprise of the week" contest. In most of my research GIR had placed slightly ahead of putting and well ahead of the other stats. In fact, of the winners, GIR tied or placed ahead of DD five out of eight times. It only lost out to DA once in the eight tournaments.



Greens and putting… putting and greens. That's STILL what it's all about.



Distance, Flogging and Making Sense of it All
I've successfully avoided talking about the topic at hand. Our friend Mr. Shackleford seems to think that because JB Holmes won a tournament hitting the ball a ton, the game is broken. What he fails to notice (or at least mention) is that JB putted better than anyone else the week of the FBR Open. Also, he wasn't even the longest driver of the ball that week. Twelve other players were longer off the tee. Why didn't they win, Geoff?



So is the problem systemic? Are all the winners hitting it long without regard of where the ball is going? There is a short answer. No.



If you look at the numbers there are three players that were much longer than they were accurate, two that were more accurate than they were long and three that were pretty much equally accurate and long. I would hardly call this a problem or a damning trend. I won't even graph it because it has been hashed and re-hashed. Read some of my previous columns if you need to get up to speed.



A Little Secret
I want to share something with you. I'm not a distance hater. (Contrary to what many might think.) Just about everyone can appreciate a well struck ball. Whenever I get a chance to see the pros play on Tour, I'll spend a good part of my time with the rest of the crowds trying to follow Tiger and the other long knockers.



However, I'm also a fact finder. I want to answer questions and make people think about things differently after hearing about these facts. Don't think I have an agenda… if you do, then prove me wrong… I could be. There is so much to this game that it astounds me. Like Erik said, it is hardly black and white, but a shade of grey.

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