By Nick Bonfield published
Based on the statistics, which PGA and European Tour players would form to create 2016's worst composite golfer?
2016’s worst composite golfer
Statistics are playing an increasingly important role in the world of top-tier professional golf, with some players even employing the services of data analysts to identify areas for improvement.
Of course, statistics only paint a part of the picture, but they are the place to start when looking to ascertain who’s the dominant player in a certain category. They also allow you to see who’s the worst in a specific area.
We all know that Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy hit the ball a long way, Jordan Spieth is a machine on the greens and Justin Rose is a fantastic iron player. But who is the worst in those categories?
Below, we’ve dived into the stats from the two main global golfing tours to let you know who 2016’s worst composite golfer currently is. Each player has recorded at least 20 rounds to date on either the PGA or European Tour.
The diminutive Indian averages a paltry 255.8 yards off the tee, and has finished outside the top 50 in five of his last six starts. However, the one top-50 finish was a victory at the Hero Indian Open, which was played on one of the shortest golf courses on tour. It just goes to show short drivers can still compete on some layouts, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult. On the PGA Tour, Darron Stiles averages 263.6 yards to rank last. That’s almost 50 yards less than leader Tony Finau.
Oliver Wilson has been struggling with his game since recording an unlikely victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2014. His statistics don’t make for particularly encouraging reading across the board, but driving accuracy is arguably the biggest cause for concern. So far this season, he’s hit just 42.9 per cent of fairways. Yes, driving distance is increasingly important, but finding fairways is still crucial, especially on the European Tour. In America, you can still have success by being long but erratic, a fact highlighted by Andrew Loupe, who ranks 207th with a 45.8 per cent driving-accuracy percentage, but has managed to register two top-four finishes this year.
Greens in regulation:
Brian Gay is known as one of the shorter hitters on the PGA Tour, which could help explain why he’s bottom of the greens-in-regulation category on a circuit that increasingly stages events on long golf courses. The American finds the green in regulation just over 50 per cent of the time (52.7), which places huge pressure on his short game. As it stands, he’s 195th on the FedExCup standings. The highest percentage on the PGA Tour is 72.6 (Bubba Watson), while two players on the European Tour – Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter – are over the 80-per-cent mark.
Putts per round:
Matteo Manassero has been stuck in the golfing doldrums for the last couple of seasons, having won the BMW PGA Championship in 2013 to register his fourth European Tour victory at the age of just 20. He’s one of the shorter hitters on tour, but has traditionally relied on strong iron play, accuracy and a good short game. Sadly, his putting touch seems to have deserted him in recent times. This season, he’s averaging 31.4 putts per rounds, some 4.4 strokes higher than Chris Doak, the category leader. In America, big-hitting Charlie Beljan takes an average of 30.77 putts each round, almost four strokes more than Brian Gay, who leads the way. It just goes to show putting isn’t the be all and end all in today’s day and age.
Related: a morning with Matteo Manassero
It’s a good job Pelle Edberg finds a lot of greens in regulation (currently 22nd on the European Tour) because he only gets his ball up and down 40.5 per cent of the time when he misses the putting surface. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s no surprise to see Thongchai Jaidee leading the way, but Thomas Pieters, the powerful Belgian, wouldn’t be someone you’d necessarily expect to see in second place. Still, that just reinforces what a talent he is. In America, Justin Hicks props up the pile with a 44.23 up-and-down percentage, almost four per cent lower than the second-worst player, Steven Bowditch. Tim Wilkinson sits pretty at the top, getting his ball up and down an impressive 69.32 per cent of the time.
Joachim B Hansen
If you’re a fan of Joachim B Hansen, look away now. Thus far during the 2016 season, the Dane has found 32 greenside bunkers and only managed to get up and down 15.6 per cent of the time – an appalling return. The second worst of all the players to have completed 20 rounds or more on the European Tour is Shiv Kapur, with a 31.3 per cent conversion. On the PGA Tour, Charlie Beljan makes his second appearance on the list (30.2 per cent). Brett Rumford is top of the combined list with an amazing 80 per cent, more than 10 per cent better than David Toms, who tops the current pile in America.
Unfortunately, Oliver Wilson makes his second entry in the scoring-average category with a figure of 75.15. When you consider most courses have a par of 72 and some even less, that’s not going to get it done. On the other side of the Atlantic, Charlie Beljan – who, you can probably tell, isn’t enjoying the best of seasons – isn’t faring much better, taking an average of 74.8 shots to play each round. Up the top, a resurgent Phil Mickelson leads the way with a figure of 69.7, particularly impressive given how much golf he’s played this year.
Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel with The Masters and USPGA respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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