I.T.N. No. 7
PUBLISHED June 17, 2019
Inside The Numbers ...
is a brief numerical summary of the current happenings in the world golf, published every Monday — hopefully.
With a 2nd place finish at the 2019 U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka has continued his recent demolition of golf’s major championships. Dating back to the 2018 PGA, Brooks’ true strokes-gained over his last four majors is a remarkable +4.2 strokes per round. Despite his dominance, BK’s major prowess still falls short of Tiger’s play during the ‘Tiger Slam’ of the early 2000s. On his way to winning 4 straight majors, Tiger’s true strokes gained was +5.9 — 1.7 strokes per round round better than Brooks.
Xinjun Zhang won this past week’s Lincoln Lands Championship on the Web.com Tour by averaging a measly +1.33 true strokes-gained per round. As the graph below shows, this is a historically low strokes-gained number among Web.com tournament winners:
It typically takes a high quality performance to win on the Web.com circuit: the average winning performance since 2004 was 2.6 strokes per round better than what we would expect from an average PGA Tour professional. For further context on Zhang's performance, we estimate that it was roughly equivalent to a tie for 32nd at last week’s U.S. Open.
While the golf world was focused on Gary Woodland capturing his first major championship at the U.S. Open on Sunday, Greyson Sigg quietly fired the best round in professional golf last week. Sigg, playing in the Mackenzie Tour’s GolfBC Open, shot a final round 59 to finish in 3rd place. After adjusting for field strength, Sigg’s 59 translated to a true strokes-gained of +7.99. This is the best performance of Greyson’s career by a whopping 4 strokes! Further, it was the best round last week — Justin Rose carded the best single-round true strokes-gained at the U.S. Open with a mark of +7.63 in the first round (a 65).
At the 2016 Travelers Championship, Jim Furyk made PGA Tour history by shooting the first-ever 58. But just how good was Furyk’s performance? We estimate that Furyk gained 10.9 strokes over an average PGA Tour professional in his record-setting round, which is just the 15th best true strokes-gained performance recorded on the PGA Tour since 1983. However it’s not all bad news for Jim — his 59 at the 2013 BMW Championship, estimated to be worth +12.8 true strokes-gained, is the best single-round performance in our dataset.
Course history truthers often cite Bubba Watson as a prime example of a golfer who only plays well at specific courses. TPC River Highlands is playing host to the Travelers Championship this week, where Bubbs has won 3 times and tacked on three additional top 5s since 2008. When comparing his performance to our model’s expectation (which does not take into account course history), Watson has averaged 0.75 strokes per round better than expected in 44 rounds at TPC River Highlands. Our model suggests a positive adjustment of 0.18 strokes per round this week to Bubba’s skill level (the 3rd highest adjustment in the field).