Moneygolf (Part 2)

    In part two of “Moneygolf” let’s look at a couple of individual player’s key statistics and see if it makes sense in terms of where their seasons currently stack up.

    Jordan Spieth is the #1 ranked player in the world. He won two major championships last year and narrowly missed winning the other two. After a hot start to 2016, he’s cooled off recently after opening the year with a win in Hawaii. Here are his year-to-date numbers in several categories:

  • Driving distance: 291 yards (93rd)
  • Driving accuracy: 65.3% (44th)
  • Total driving: 137 (22nd)
  • Strokes Gained Putting: 1.089 (2nd)
  • Fairway proximity: 31’ 5” (99th)
  • Approaches from 100-125 yards: 27’ 10” (208th)
  • Sand Save Percentage: 30.7% (206th)
  • Scrambling: 65.8% (25th)
  • Round 1 Scoring Average: 71.0 (153rd)
  • *Statistics through the Honda Classic
  • Now, let’s compare those numbers to Kevin Kisner, a player die-hard fans know well but someone more casual fans may not recognize. Kisner is a 31-year old touring pro from South Carolina.

  • Driving distance: 293.1 yards (78th)
  • Driving accuracy: 71.9% (7th)
  • Total driving: 85 (4th)
  • Strokes Gained Putting: .545 (29th)
  • Fairway proximity: 30’ 3” (45th)
  • Approaches from 100-125 yards: 20’ 4” (102nd)
  • Sand Save Percentage: 69.4% (2nd)
  • Scrambling: 62.2% (64th)
  • Round 1 Scoring Average: 67.9 (4th)
  • *Statistics through the Honda Classic
  • There are some obvious takeaways when you look examine these numbers. Why has Spieth struggled (at least for him) early in the 2016 season? It’s certainly not his driving. While Spieth has never been very long off the tee, he’s consistently found the fairway in his young career. If you look at the “Total Driving” category, he’s currently 22nd out of the more than 200 players who’ve played PGA events this year. Spieth has already earned the reputation as being one of the best putters in the game. He ranks 2nd in strokes gained on the green this year. Putting clearly isn’t the issue. His scrambling percentage is solid. But, when you look at proximity to the hole from shots played 100-125 yards from the pin, Spieth is ending up more than 27 feet from the cup, good for 208th place. It doesn’t matter how good a putter you are, if you are ending up 27 feet from the hole after hitting a wedge into the green, it’s difficult to make birdies. Spieth also hasn’t enjoyed his time on the beach this season. He ranks 206th in sand saves this year. Admittedly, it’s a small sample size, but those misses are clearly adding additional strokes to his score. Another interesting stat for Spieth is Round 1 scoring average. While he ranks in the top-10 for scoring average in rounds 2,3 and 4, Spieth is opening with an average score of 71.0, good for 151st place. Jordan is digging himself a hole in round 1 and stuck in catch-up mode the rest of the weekend.

    Kisner’s numbers are just sort of solid all-around with a few areas where his numbers are among the very best. He has a few areas where he is really excelling, 2nd in sand save percentage, 4th in round 1 scoring and 4th in total driving. Kisner only ranks outside the top 100 in one category – proximity to the hole on shots from 100-125 yards out, where he ranks 102nd. Even here, Kisner is hitting it to an average of 20’ 4” from the hole, some 7 feet closer than Spieth.

    Through the WGC-Cadillac at Doral, Kisner currently ranks 2nd in FedEx Cup points while Spieth currently ranks 14th. Kisner has played 4 more events than Spieth and Spieth is averaging 137 points per event while Kisner is averaging 124 points per event, but a big part of that disparity was created by Spieth’s win in Hawaii early in the season whereas Kisner has not won on tour in calendar year 2016.