PGA – MY 2016 FRANKENGOLFER
This is my 5th Annual Frankengolfer column, where I reveal who the best players were statistically from the previous season in 4 major categories and piece them together into the ultimate PGA golfer.
My original concept for this series was born of an inability to find 1 PGA golfer (in 2012) whom I could emulate in every important area of the game.
So, I’ve taken it into my own hands to create my own fictional “Frankengolfer” from the PGA Tour statistics.
Here’s who I came up with for 2016:
- Total Driving – KEEGAN BRADLEY
- The Approach – ADAM SCOTT
- Short Game – JASON DAY
- Intangibles – DUSTIN JOHNSON
It was tough to pick a winner for this category this year. I was torn between three players: Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson and Andrew Landry.
You’ve probably heard of Bradley and DJ, but you’re thinking: Landry who?
You may recall the first few rounds of the US Open this year was dominated by a relative unknown. He was ranked 624th in the world and his first round (66) was the best ever opening round score in a US Open hosted at Oakmont.
That player was Andrew Landry.
Unfortunately, Landry faded away on the last day in the final grouping, but he still has a lot of potential going forward because he is known to be: “a very straight, pure ball-striker”- said fellow player David Lingmerth, a teammate of his at Arkansas.
The stats confirm his statement.
In 2016, Landry finished 5th in Total Driving (Driving Distance + Accuracy) and 1st in Total Driving Efficiency and Carry Efficiency. On average, he hit the ball 294.7 yards and had a 65.55% accuracy rate.
Dustin Johnson, on the other hand… that long, beautiful swing is something many of us want to have off the tee. He was ranked 2nd in 2016 in Driving Distance (313.6 yards on ave) and his longest shot was 397 yards.
But, as I always preach with this article series, I still want to be fairly accurate. And, DJ was only accurate 57.17% of the time last year.
So I’ve decided to go with Keegan Bradley for the driving portion of my Frankengolfer since he finished 1st in Total Driving with a 300-yard average and 64.57%.
Another honorable mention in this category is Lucas Glover.
During the 2016 season, the 37-year-old ranked 1st in Ball Striking, 1st in G.I.R, and 2nd in Total Driving. Unfortunately, he couldn’t capitalize from his spectacular play off the tee and finished as the 244th ranked player in the world.
Think about that: Glover was one of the straightest, longest, and most accurate players off the tee and on the greens. But his downfall was his short game and particularly – his putting was woeful.
The easy deduction is that hitting the ball far and straight is an important part of a player’s repertoire, but not everything.
In the past, when Glover has putted well, it has brought his game together. It surely helped him win the 2009 US Open.
The good news is that he recently changed to a “claw grip” which is already having a positive outcome for him. Glover finished 3rd at the Shriners earlier this month behind Brooks Koepka and Rod Pampling.
The Approach –
Now, who wouldn’t want to be Adam Scott with an iron in their hand?
The 36-year-old Aussie is a former World No. 1 (2014) and has won 29 tournaments including the 2004 Players, 2013 Masters, and 2 WGC events (2011, 2012) largely due to some magical putting and consistent iron play.
In 2016, Scott was 1st in “Strokes Gained, Approach the Green”, a new stat introduced this season that helps identify the best iron players. It measures a player’s performance off the tee shot on par-3s and the first shot following a tee shot on par-4s and par-5s.
It’s why I include Scott as the Approach portion of my Frankengolfer. I was also impressed with the following stats he put up this past season:
- Greens in Regulations (3rd);
- Strokes Gained, Tee to Green (1st);
- Scoring Average (3rd)
- Proximity to Hole (1st);
- Fairway Proximity (2nd).
Right behind Scott in Strokes Gained, Approach the Green was Kevin Na.
This 33-year-old veteran has been on the Tour since he was 20 and makes his living being consistently in contention.
Na is currently ranked T-9 for the most Top 10’s since 2013 which has helped him collect $22 million in career earnings. Last year alone, Na made about $3.5 million, but never won a tournament.
In fact, during his 13 years on Tour, Na has only won 1 time (Shriners 2011) which he has admitted to being “almost embarrassed” about. He has also said that he realizes his own “quirkiness” and has a tendency to choke like he did at the 2012 Players after his 54-hole lead.
At the same time, Na’s bread and butter has been his ability to grind and be constant with his iron play. For the past 3 years, he has made the FedEx Cup Finals.
As he approaches the prime of his playing career, hopefully Na will get past any mental barriers and get more wins.
Hideki Matsuyama came in 3rd in the SG: Approach the Green category last year.
The 24-year-old Japanese star has won 3 times since he qualified for the PGA Tour in 2014 (Memorial 2014; Waste Management Open 2016; WGC-HSBC 2016). No other Japanese player has won this many times on the Tour and none has ever won a WGC Tournament.
Several experts have said that the 10th ranked Matsuyama “is just getting started” and we’ll see much more from him in the years to come especially since he drives the ball well and is so efficient with his irons.
After his recent win at the WGC-HSBC Champions, he said, “Winning today, I feel has got me closer to being able to compete a lot better in the major tournaments. My next goal is, of course, to win a major, and I’m going to do all that I can to prepare well for that.”
Indeed, Matsuyama has already contended in all 4 majors over the last few years and finished T-7 at the Masters and T-4 at the PGA Championship this past year.
This is a player to keep on the radar.
Short Game –
Statistically, the best short game player on the Tour last year was the World Number 1: Jason Day:
- Eagles – 1st;
- Strokes Gained – Putting – 1st;
- Strokes Gained – Scoring – 1st;
- Total Putting – 1st;
- Average Distance of Putts Made – 1st;
- Bounce Back – 2nd;
- Sand Save Percentage – 2nd;
- Proximity from Hole to Sand – 2nd;
- Scoring Average – 2nd;
- Par Breakers – 3rd;
- Putting Average – 3rd;
- Eagles – 4th;
- Birdie Conversion – 4th.
Looking at his amazing stats above shows how important this aspect of the game is compared to driving. Most of the top ranked golfers are also some of the best putters (Strokes Gained).
Comparatively, Day finished 115th in Total Driving and 53rd in Greens in Regulation in 2016. He really excelled around the greens and putting which ultimately helped him to become one of the best scorers on the Tour. (Lucky for him he was able to capitalize on this talent, as nagging back issues forced him to withdraw twice this season.)
Not that this is a surprise, but Jordan Spieth finished 2nd in Strokes Gained Putting in 2016. It helped him to be competitive in Scoring which he also finished 2nd in and remain in the Top 5 ranked players in the world (#4).
Although 2016 was a down year for him, he won 2 tournaments (Hyundai & Dean & DeLuca) and finished T-2 at the Masters. Obviously, this is a far cry from the 5 tournaments he won in 2015 including 2 majors (Masters & US Open) and the 2015 PGA Player of the Year award.
Like many, I am curious to see if Spieth can return to that amazing form.
For this coming season, Spieth’s first strategy for returning to his winning ways is to lighten up his schedule in 2017.
Dustin Johnson earned the 2016 PGA of America Player of the Year Award and Vardon Trophy, both of which were handed out this past Fall.
While both honors are points based, there isn’t a golfing fan that would say Johnson didn’t earn them.
He won 3 times including the WGC-Bridgestone, the BMW Championship and the US Open. He also was a member of the winning Ryder Cup team and had the most Top 10 finishes (15) than any other player.
But what was most impressive about Johnson this past season was the fact that he was able to overcome his loss of the 2015 US Open to Spieth and that is a huge victory for the 33-year-old.
Who could forget when DJ choked on the 72nd hole at Chambers Bay? To carry that burden around for a year must have been tough, as well as having to endure constant questions about when he would win his first major.
But by winning the 2016 US Open, Johnson simultaneously got 2 monkeys off of his back while he also brought together all of his natural talents beautifully.
And, there were many.
Johnson is first and foremost a long driver of the golf ball. That is no secret.
But, he also exhibited a deft touch around the greens in 2016 which helped his scores go so low. He ranked 1st in Putting Average, 2nd in Eagles, 1st in Birdie Conversions, 1st in Birdies and 1st in Scoring.
He has also been extremely clutch in the big moments. Johnson’s agent, David Winkle, said this year: “He has played his best golf on the hardest golf courses at the most important times, and that’s what great players do.”
So for Johnson’s ability to break through and play well during the tough times, he is the Intangibles portion of my 2016 Frankengolfer.
By some miscarry of justice, I have failed to mention Tiger Woods and the best season of his career (2000) throughout the years I’ve written this column.
It was the year Tiger won 9 times including 3 of the 4 majors, had 17 top 10 finishes and made the cut for all 20 events he played. He was also the only player to break par at the US Open that year which he won by 10 shots.
He may have truly been the best player in every aspect of the game during that 1 season.
Let’s take a look at the stats from PGA.com:
- Total Driving – 1st
- Greens in Regulation – 1st
- Ball Striking – 1st
- Birdie or Better Conversion – 1st
- Birdies – 1st
- Scoring – 1st
- Eagles – 1st
- Bounce Back – 1st
- Putting Average – 2nd
Note: Tiger was not technically the top putter statistically overall in 2000, but he made the clutch puts he needed at the big moments during this time. He is considered by many experts to be the Greatest Putter of All Time.
The moral of the story: If you ever want to emulate a player in all phases of your game, think Tiger circa 2000…
Source : www.pgatour.com
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