PGA – MY 2014 FRANKENGOLFER
My laboratory door has opened once again…
Inside, there is an imaginary curtain up. And, standing behind it, is the perfect golfer: My 3rd annual “Frankengolfer”.
He is a collection of the best players in each of four major areas of the sport based on the previous end-of-year stats.
I first created him in 2012 when I couldn’t find just one PGA tour pro to emulate on the course, and whose game worked perfectly for my amateur game. So I built one myself (on paper).
So, now, stand back. The curtain is peeling away… It’s opening… And…
My 2014 Frankengolfer is:
- Driving – HUNTER MAHAN
- The Approach – RORY MCILROY
- Short Game – RORY MCILROY
- Intangibles – JIM FURYK
As I wrote in my two previous Frankengolfer columns, my biggest concern off the tee has always been to maintain a balance between driving distance and accuracy.
It’s the main reason I picked Hunter Mahan in 2012 and Graham DeLaet in 2013 in this category. Both had the best combination of yardage distance and an accuracy rate of at least 65%+.
Ironically, neither of them fell within the top distance drivers of the game, which is fine by me. Once again, I’ll take a little less yardage if I find my ball in that fairway more often.
This past year, that PGA golfer who fit my criteria once again was: HUNTER MAHAN.
Last year, Mahan drove the ball on average 295.8 yards with 65.10% accuracy. That was good enough to rank him 3rd in “Total Driving” (Distance + Accuracy).
For the reasons outlined above, I didn’t choose Lucas Glover this year, even though he ranked 1st in “Total Driving” (Distance + Accuracy) and averaged 300.6 yards and 64.02% accuracy last year.
And, I didn’t choose Henrik Stenson who came in 2nd with average 293.2 yards and 68.78% accuracy.
But, I also zeroed in on Mahan again this year (beyond his excellence in driving the ball), because he had another unbelievable quality which I am adding to the driving portion of my Frankengolfer going forward: driving “efficiency”.
In my own game, I’ve realized that in order for me to get the max distance off the tee, I need to also pay attention to how I can be most efficient with my driver.
Essentially, I’ve learned more about maximizing my launch angle, spin rate, and swing speed so that together they will give me a great balance of having a high launch and low spin, keys to maximizing my distance.
What this means for my Frankengolfer, is that I also wanted to search out the most efficient driving pro on tour. Well, that was Bud Cauley in 2014. But, he ranked T-135th in “Total Driving”. Not good enough for my Frankengolfer.
So, who was the next most efficient pro? HUNTER MAHAN.
He finished 2nd in “Total Driving Efficiency” (Carry Efficiency Rank + Total Distance Efficiency and also, he tied for T-3rd in “Total Distance Efficiency” (Rounds + Ave Distance + Ave Club Head Speed + Total Attempts + Highest Distance Efficiency).
So, last year, no other PGA golfer maximized the most from his driver with this great combination of efficiency, distance, and accuracy than Mahan.
The Approach –
Back in December, Colin Montgomerie told a radio station he thought RORY MCILROY had taken the “standard of golf – to one level beyond where Tiger was.”
I don’t necessarily agree with that statement as it stands, but perhaps Monty will be correct if McIlroy wins all 4 majors in 2015 as he predicts, a feat that Tiger never pulled off. (Tiger won 3 in 2000 – US Open, The Open, PGA)
In any event, McIlroy certainly played incredibly well in 2014 and brought himself back to the #1 ranking in the world according to the Official World Golf Rankings since 2012.
Ironically, the reason for McIlory’s success last year was very similar to his success in 2012: he retained an amazing “feel” on the greens.
While McIlroy was the 3rd longest driver on tour last year (310.5 yards), he only maintained an average 59.93% accuracy off the tee, good for 108th ranked.
But, from there, Rory’s great play from tee to green helped him garner the following stats, the reason I chose him for the “Approach” portion of my Frankengolfer:
- 1st – Strokes gained, tee to green;
- 1st – Strokes gained, total;
- 1st – Birdie Average;
- 1st – Going for Green (76.14%);
- 3rd – Scrambling from the rough;
- 1st – Birdie or + conversion %;
- 1st – Back 9 Scoring Performance;
- 1st – Scoring Average;
- 1st – Most 10 Top Finishes;
- 4th – GIR from Fairway;
- 6th – GIR, total.
And, while Rory also has a better accuracy off the tee to thank for bigger successes in 2014, there will always be that feel, the bread and butter to his beautiful, pure golf game.
It’s plain to see that no matter where I end up from the tee, I want to be Rory with an iron in my hand…
Short Game –
This year, this category proved to be the hardest to choose.
While Graeme McDowell was the best overall putter in 2014 according to the statistics (1st in “Strokes Gained Putting”, “Total Putting”, and “Bonus Putting”; 3rd – “3-Putt Avoidance”), I was impressed that Jordan Spieth owned the “1-putting” stat last year.
For instance, Spieth ranked 1st in “1-Putt %, total”, “1 Putt %, Rnd 4” and “1-Putts Per Round”. Now, that’s the kind of putter I want to be!
But, RORY MCILROY’S clutch putting in the huge tournaments down the stretch to win himself two majors and the WGC-Bridgestone won me over. (At the British Open last year, McIlroy one-putted 34 out of 72 greens.)
Yes, McIlroy had the distance to get the ball way down to the greens and iron play to match, but Rory also had deft touch to help him with scoring.
It’s easy to see why Monty raves about this 25 year old Irish sensation and what he believes to be even more untapped potential ahead.
Last year, I picked one of the youngest players on tour for this category (Jordan Spieth, 21 years old).
I was impressed by the depth of talent this young newcomer possessed, but more so, the seemingly endless enthusiasm and mental toughness he showed us at an early age.
This year, I’m going opposite – to one of the oldest pros on tour: JIM FURYK (44 yrs old), but for similar reasons.
After 20 years on tour, Furyk still has the talent and more importantly, understands his ability to simply make the best of his talent (including that little hitch in his swing).
Most telling are the stats showing how he doesn’t have great distance (155th: 279.3 yards on ave); isn’t the best putter on tour (“Strokes Gained Putting – 82nd), but yet he is a master Scrambler (1st), made the least bogeys and ranked 3rd in “Strokes Gained Tee to Green”.
This impressive touch around the greens has allowed him to finish 4th in the official world ranking in 2014, T-2nd in most Top 10 finishes, and 3rd in Scoring Ave.
Another, perhaps more impressive thing to like about Furyk is his mental toughness and consistency throughout the years, despite the very competitive PGA tour where players half his age are emerging every year. (He finished in the top ten of the Official World Golf Rankings 9 times in 20 years – 1997, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014).
And, still… Furyk has to also think about all the near misses and disappointments he’s had during his career. Even though he hasn’t had a win since 2010, he remains strong and still pushes through.
Perhaps having his Dad (67-year old Mike Furyk) as his lifelong coach gives Furyk stability and consistency.
Whatever drives him, Furyk still has a tenacity and will to win just like his young counterparts. He loves the game of golf, works hard at it and on his body, has honed his talents, and never gives up.
I admire Furyk and his continued success inspires me to never give up on my own game (especially since I also have a little hitch in my swing).
The Finished Product –
So, the Frankengolfers are starting to look alike each year. It’s interesting to see how consistent some players are at excelling in some areas over others. Next year, I’d like to see Jason Day, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler or perhaps even Sergio Garcia make it into one of my creations. They are all players I am a huge fan of and see great potential in.
But, I have a feeling that if Dustin Johnson stays clean and picks up where he left off last year, we’ll be talking more in depth about him next year…
Source : PGA Tour Stats
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