PGA – MY 2013 FRANKENGOLFER

Over the last year, I haven’t played as much golf as I would have liked.

Not that I haven’t been thinking about it… a lot.

I envision myself on the course quite a bit even when I’m not there.

I guess I should  stop daydreaming and just do it.

Meanwhile, like the column I wrote last year “My 2012 Frankengolfer”, I’ll think about the following question I posed back then:  If you could be any current PGA golfer, who would you be and why?

Well, once again, I can’t choose just one player.  So, I’ve taken it upon myself to build another Frankengolfer, this time based on the 2013 stats.

The only difference this year, is that I’ve modified some of my categories and added a new one “Intangibles”.

Thus, without further ado, my 2013 Frankengolfer is as follows:

  • Driving  – Graham DeLaet
  • The Approach – Henrik Stenson
  • Short Game – Steve Stricker
  • Intangibles – Jordan Spieth

Driving  –

Accuracy is important to me.  And, that’s the kind of player I envision myself being off the tee.  I’ll even sacrifice some yardage for it.

Sounds practical, but not all of us amateurs think alike.  I know of some golfers who just want to get that ball down to the hole as far as possible, even if it means they’ll be in the rough to pitch out for the next shot.

That’s just not me.  I want to be in the fairway every time.

So, like last year, I zeroed in on a PGA player to be my driving portion of the Frankengolfer who hits the ball less than 300 yards on average, but is accurate at least 65% of the time.  I figure that should give me the best chance to get the ball on the green and bring down my scoring average.

No, I don’t have a bias either way for those guys who hit 300+ yards, but they’re not necessarily the most accurate. Not even close. 

For instance, the longest hitter on tour last year, Luke List, 28 yr old rookie from Seattle, led the tour in average yards (306.3 yards), but also came in last in driving accuracy.  He only hit the fairway 45.58% of the time, made only 9 cuts in 24 starts on Tour, and came in 2nd to last in “Scoring Average” (72.59).

(Luckily, List seems to have learned his lesson.  According to Adam Schupak’s Golf Week article dated December 13, 2013, List was quoted as saying, “I’d rather lead total driving, a combination of accuracy and distance… That’s a goal for me for next year and years to come.”)”

Further, in looking at those players who hit 300+ yards on average last year, only Keegan Bradley (300.586) got into the 60%+ accuracy bracket (62.82%).

Last year, I settled on Hunter Mahan whose average length in 2012 was 293.1 yards with a driving accuracy of 67.7%. That’s extremely good, considering that no one player in 2013 had that kind of accuracy and distance combination.

It certainly wasn’t Hunter again (Both of his numbers dropped in those areas (289.96 yards; 66.61%, #25th).

But, I did discover another player this year with excellent accuracy and an average of 5 yards longer length off the tee than Mahan in 2012.

That player was Graham DeLaet (298.567 yards on average and 65.8%). He was the only player in the top 50 longest hitters with those kinds of stats:

2013 – Top 50 Longest Hitters on PGA Tour

Distance
Rank

Player

Driving Distance

Accuracy

19

Graham DeLaet

298.567

65.80%

42

Billy Horschel

293.781

64.17%

27

Justin Rose

296.647

63.57%

47

D.J. Trahan

293.391

63.54%

11

Keegan Bradley

300.586

62.82%

17

Jim Herman

299.209

62.71%

49

Tiger Woods

293.225

62.50%

23

Adam Scott

297.775

61.84%

43

Lucas Glover

293.715

61.62%

46

Martin Laird

293.404

60.78%

44

Josh Teater

293.738

60.77%

38

Steve LeBrun

294.121

60.16%

36

Henrik Norlander

294.956

60.13%

29

Charl Schwartzel

296.110

59.87%

32

Charlie Beljan

295.403

59.86%

51

Rory Sabbatini

293.073

59.72%

24

Robert Streb

297.676

59.57%

41

Charley Hoffman

294.012

59.57%

22

Kyle Stanley

298.113

59.54%

45

Cameron Piercey

293.568

59.28%

5

Bubba Watson

303.655

58.73%

35

Harris English

295.221

58.65%

48

James Hahn

293.291

58.58%

31

John Rollins

295.562

58.56%

30

Scott Stallings

295.696

58.37%

26

Brad Fritsch

297.032

58.06%

16

Jason Day

299.302

58.03%

8

Rory McIlroy

302.182

57.92%

33

Morgan Hoffman

295.367

57.72%

10

Ryan Palmer

301.459

57.69%

4

Gary Woodland

303.777

57.60%

9

Eric Meierdierks

301.880

57.50%

50

Andres Romero

293.119

57.35%

34

Peter Hanson

295.282

56.31%

40

Angel Cabrera

293.986

56.19%

14

Sean O’Hair

299.652

55.66%

39

Troy Matteson

294.076

55.39%

7

Robert Garrigus

302.423

55.37%

25

Shawn Stefani

297.238

54.97%

3

Nicolas Colsaerts

305.702

53.80%

12

Martin Flores

300.446

53.67%

21

Scott Piercey

298.188

53.57%

15

Tag Ridings (4 Events)

299.569

53.38%

2

Dustin Johnson

305.779

53.36%

6

Jason Kokrak

303.192

53.17%

37

Charles Howell III

294.759

53.11%

13

Steven Bowditch

300.223

53.04%

20

Jimmy Walker

298.494

52.18%

28

Bobby Gates

296.156

51.59%

18

Seung-yul Noh

298.843

51.50%

1

Luke List

306.270

45.58%

Finally, the 31 yr old Canadian DeLaet hit the 4th longest shot last year (420 yards) and came in tied for 1st in the category of “Ball Striking”.

Yeah, I’m taking DeLaet to be the Driver portion of my Frankengolfer this year.

The Approach  –

Henrik Stenson rises to the top easily for me in this category. Obviously, the stats and his results show it.

In 2013, Stenson ranked 1st in Greens in Regulation and 2nd in Ball Striking. Those stats may be obvious to show he is a master with his iron, but looking deeper, we can see that what he really excelled in was taking advantage of his relatively long driver.

Last year, Stenson hit an average of 290.9 yards off the tee and was accurate about 70% of the time.  This helped to give him a tremendous advantage since he also excelled so well on the greens.  For instance, he had the following G.I.R. stats:

  • 200+ yards – 2nd;
  • 175-200 yards 1st;
  • 100+ yards 1st;
  • <100 yards 1st;
  • <75 yards 6th.

This double whammy of hitting long accurately & playing great around the greens definitely helped get him to the hole and become the tour’s 4th lowest scorer and win both the FedEx Cup and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.  It certainly wasn’t his poor Save % (46.2, 134th rank) and average putting (98th – Strokes Gained Putting Rank).

Gimme Stenson with the irons on The Approach.

Short Game –

There isn’t a statistic that shows me the outright impact of a golfer’s “feel” around the course.  Yet, that is what this category is all about.

How a player uses variety in situations and club selection to get the ball in the hole efficiently is not just about technique, it’s an art form that comes out of the player’s mind-body connection.

It’s what gave Rory McIlroy the advantage in 2012.  You may remember that he ranked 60th out of 190 players in “Greens in Regulation” and 156th in Driving Accuracy, yet he still managed to get the lowest average score and tied for most top 10 finishes.  He did it with the help of his incredible feel and short game.

Similar to McIlroy’s disadvantage off the tee yet consistently low scores, I found Steve Stricker to be the stand out player for me in 2013 in this category.

Last year, Stricker only hit the ball 283.596 yards on average (#126 rank).  He was super accurate (70.65%), but his lack of distance meant he had to really work the greens and putt well to become the tours lowest scorer on average (68.95).  His stats support this.

Stricker was 1st in Par 4 Performance, 1st in Par 5 Birdies, 1st in Par Breakers, 1st in Score Ave before Cut, 2nd in Birdies per Round, 2nd in Scrambling, the 6th best Ball Striker, and oh yeah – 2nd in Greens in Regulation too.  He also putted amazingly well (2nd in Strokes Gained Putting).

This short game is what helped Stricker to eight top 10s in 13 starts, including four runner-up finishes.

So, what is it about this semi-retired 46 year old with a herniated disk and who spends the off-season in the Midwest cold that makes him so good?  I guess it comes down to what he told a reporter in 2012, “I just do what I do.”

Yeah, Stricker is the Short Game aspect of my Frankengolfer.

The Intangibles –

I’ve noticed over the years, that winning comes to athletes through a combination of drive, talent, work ethic and also from an unspoken place, hard to pin down in a player’s personality.

In a team sport, it’s chemistry between the players.  It has to be harnessed, or success is hard to come by.  Usually, the coach is there to bring it forth.  But, sometimes, circumstances & adversity can harness chemistry, as it did in Boston for the Red Sox this past year after the terrible marathon bombings the city experienced.  The city and team embraced one another, bringing forth a potent cocktail of confidence through chemistry which helped elevate a team with moderate talent to win the World Series.

In golf, since it is mostly an individual sport, intangible attributes in special players encompasses mental toughness, competitiveness, and attitude.  If a player harnesses any one of those attributes, or a combination, the advantage over others can be daunting.  We’ve seen this work for Tiger Woods very well.

In 2013, Jordan Spieth stood out to me as the player who best used these aforementioned intangible attributes and which will help him long into the future.

Just think about what Spieth accomplished at the age of 20 last year:

  • Named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year;
  • Finished 10th on the PGA Tour Money List;
  • Ranked 22nd in the world;
  • 9  – Top 10 Finishes;
  • Got his 1st win (John Deere Classic – Making him the youngest player to win on the PGA tour since 1931);
  • Almost won at the Wyndham Championship, where he lost in a playoff; and
  • Appeared in the 2013 Presidents Cup after being handpicked by Fred Couples.

How he did all of this was to take advantage of the opportunities dealt to him and play well with confidence and poise, even in the big moments.

How else do we explain how Spieth has been able to handle all the pressure and still be clutch?

What an incredible young player.

I’d love to have these attributes when I get out there and play.  It’s harder than it looks.

The Finished Product.

Yeah, yeah.  Now all I have to do is get out there and be all of those guys when I finally play again.

In the meantime, I can daydream, can’t I?

 

 

 

 


Sources :

PGA Tour Stats: http://www.pgatour.com/stats.html
ESPN PGA Stats: http://espn.go.com/golf/statistics/_/year/2013
CBS PGA Stats: http://www.cbssports.com/golf/stats/stats_leaders

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