Strokes Gained – Putting

Year to date, who are the best putters on the PGA Tour? Voila!

The ten best putters together with:

  • The average number of putts they gain on the field each time they play
  • Their winnings YTD
  • Where that places them on the Money List
  1. Ben Curtis – 1.014 – $2,154,480 (13)
  2. Aaron Baddeley – .808 – $991,289 (42)
  3. Luke Donald – .758 – $2,299,506 (12)
  4. David Duval – .752 – $26,696 (224)
  5. Bo Van Pelt – .728 – $1,356,367 (31)
  6. Michael Thompson – .708 – $520,050 (102)
  7. Zach Johnson – .664 – $3,033,525 (5)
  8. Brian Gay – .658 – $607,483 (84)
  9. Martin Flores – .647 – $458,834 (109)
  10. Ryan Palmer – .642 – $894,962 (50)

A couple of things pop out looking at the list:

  • Being in the top-10 putters on Tour doesn’t have any correlation to being in the top-10 on the Money List. Only Zach Johnson at No. 5 is in the top 10.
  • Only three players are in the top 25
  • Only six players are in the top 50
  • One player is between Nos. 51 to 100
  • Three of the top-10 putters are outside the Top 100 on the Money List
  • David Duval is No. 4 in putting but is only 224 on the Money List. Clearly he is struggling with his swing. He is T181 (dead last) in Ball Striking, the combination of Total Driving (Distance plus Fairways Hit) and Greens in Regulation.
  • When putting stats used to be measured in Putts Per Round, Brian Gay was at or near the top of the list. That was attributed as much to his short game; he was forever chipping it close and one-putting. But with the new Strokes Gained – Putting stat which eliminates chipping, he’s still No. 8.

What got me thinking about and analyzing all of this is that I came across this article at pgatour.com, “Chart: Putts Gained by event on the PGA TOUR in 2012.

What’s interesting about this is that they put together a YTD chart, by tournament, of who had the highest Strokes Gained, what the winner had and where that ranked him in the field. Interestingly, Mickelson and Donald were the only two who were both the highest and the winner.

Since I have struggled to understand this important new putting statistic, here is also a link to a 5-minute Dave Pelz video that explains how the statistic was developed from the Tour’s ShotLink data. (The link on the page with the Chart above is now a dead link.)

And here is a link to the complete list of Strokes Gained – Putting (select 2012). The worst putter on Tour in 2012? Kyle Thompson. And a quick skim of the bottom of the list turns up a lot of familiar names which helps explain why we haven’t heard much from them. (The link on the page with the Chart above is now a dead link.)

Why all of this is relevant to our continuing conversation about mastery is that, on the one hand, we get an opportunity to see who the masters in putting are. And on the other hand, we get to see that the best putters are not necessarily the best players.

And that the old saying, “Drive for show, putt for dough,” clearly isn’t always true, thus removing yet another obstacle from our own paths to golf mastery.

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