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The Numbers Game: 2006 U.S. Open Numbers


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By Dave Koster via TheSandTrap.com
Winged Foot provided some of the highest scoring since the 70s. Thanks to that, there were some fun facts and numbers.

tng_title.gifThe U.S. Open produces some of the most interesting golf all year long. In a tournament where par is a great score, it is always fun to view the aftermath.



This year, we have some new words because of Winged Foot's 18th hole. "A Phil," or a "Monty"… maybe a "Phonty" can be defined as letting an Aussie win a major championship after throwing up all over oneself. Any way you describe it, the U.S. Open has provided many interesting factoids for this week's The Numbers Game.

Different "Most Difficult" Hole Every Day
I wasn't able to see if the USGA was able to do it before, but they managed to do it this year. Every day there was a different #1 ranked hole. By day, here they are:



Day Hole Average
-------- ---- -------
Thursday 1 4.692
Friday 14 4.497
Saturday 18 4.698
Sunday 8 4.492

Each of the four was a par four, and two came from each of the nines. The first hole began the week as the hardest hole, but on Sunday was the 11th hardest hole. The eighth went the other way, starting as the 12th hardest hole and ending the week as the toughest.



Usually you wouldn't see such variation in degrees of difficulty, but the USGA did make changes throughout the week. The 12th hole played at either 570 or 640 yards, giving players a shot at hitting it in two (or not). Padraig Harrington did just that. It was great to see a course changed up during the tournament. Only the fifth hole stayed the same throughout the tournament as the easiest hole. Also, it was the only hole that played under par the entire week.



One thing is for sure, the USGA made the back nine on Sunday difficult. Seven of the nine hardest holes were on that side.



The First Green
Part of the reason number one was the toughest hole on Thursday was the fact that players averaged 2.1 putts on its diabolical surface. And that's not putts per GIR, that's just putts! At first, you just sort of write it off as a crazy pin position… but when it happens again and again, it becomes more interesting.



Day Putts
-------- -----
Thursday 2.10
Friday 1.93
Saturday 1.92
Sunday 1.97

The putting never got as bad as Thursday, but it was still significantly harder than any other hole. For the week, #1 averaged 1.99 putts per player. The next highest hole was 18 with 1.79: a fifth of a shot lower on the green alone.



Winged Foot Got Easier
Normally you think of a U.S. Open getting harder through the weekend. The USGA tends to let everything dry out. The fairways are firm and fast making it difficult to keep the ball in the fairway on doglegs. Greens are nearly impossible to hold on Sunday and are stimping close to the teens.



For those making the cut, the scoring average on each of the four days was as follows:



Day Avg Score
-------- ---------
Thursday 73.698
Friday 72.492
Saturday 73.683
Sunday 73.762

Friday was the least windy of the four days, leading to the lowest scoring average of the week. Sunday was clearly the toughest, though by less than one-tenth of one shot.



If you include the Thursday and Friday scores of those who missed the cut, well, Winged Foot's scoring average actually decreases on the weekend, but that only makes sense: the guys who were scoring really poorly are gone by Saturday morning.



Sunday Back Nine
The back nine was nasty on Sunday. The last nine holes played almost a shot and a half harder than the front. I mentioned earlier that seven of the hardest holes that day were on that side. If you compare it to the rest of the days by scoring, it looks like the USGA turned up the heat at the turn.



Day Front 9 Back 9 Differential
-------- ------- ------ ------------
Thursday 37.88 38.11 0.23
Friday 37.34 37.69 0.35
Saturday 36.40 37.28 0.88
Sunday 36.16 37.60 1.44

As you can see, Sunday had the biggest differential between front nine and back nine scoring. Throughout the week, the back nine got tougher and tougher. You saw a bunch of birdies and eagles on Sunday early which got some players back in the hunt. The problem is that they had to finish their round. The guys were hanging on for dear life at the end. Ogilvy making par at 18 picked up almost a half a shot on the field… and two shots on Phil.



51.2% GIR
The median GIR on tour is 63-64%. At Winged foot, it was a tad lower. Averaging 51.2% GIR on tour will only lose you your card. Here are a few other GIR nuggets:
  • Only five players managed to hit 63% or more greens last week (Sluman, Purdy, Holmes, Harrington, Cabrera).
  • Only five players hit had greater than 50% greens every day (Sluman, Holmes, Harrington, Schwartzel, Poulter).
  • Four holes averaged under 40% GIR (3, 9, 14, 16).
  • Four holes averaged over 60% GIR (5, 6, 7, 11).
  • On Sunday, players GIR was 59.4% on the front and 49.7% on the back - leading to the 1.44 shot differential.

Greens were hard to come by all week. It showed not only in the scores, but in the stats as well.



Ogilvy vs. Phil
I still believe that Ogilvy won the tournament rather than Phil or Monty (or anyone else) losing it. Phil probably should have hit a 4-wood and he certainly should not have tried to be heroic on his second shot at 18. Look at both Ogilvy's and Mickelson's scores in their entirety, and it's clear who "won."



In the four rounds, Ogilvy did not have a single score worse than bogey on any hole. All he had were birdies, pars, and bogeys the entire week. Our U.S. Open champion won because he minimized his mistakes all four days and never got rattled… even when his last drive ended up in a divot.



Phil had only one double. Sure, it came at an inopportune time, but only one double the entire week. If he had had that double earlier in the week there wouldn't be as much talk. What happened to Phil was that his wild driver caught up with him… only hitting 43% of the fairways. He had escaped from the trampled-down rough and garbage cans all week long without more than a bogey. His 72nd hole was simply the last straw, or the one that broke the camel's back. And if he hadn't gotten a plugged lie in the bunker, he may have gotten that up and down for a bogey, too.



I think his plugged lie was Winged Foot saying back, "Not this time Phil."



I think that Winged Foot got it right.

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