Kevin Na’s Masters Thursday: Lies, Damned Lies And Statistics

Kevin Na's Masters Thursday was perfect proof that the naked statistics don't always tell the full story...

Kevin Na’s Masters Thursday - he hit every green but had 39 putts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kevin Na's Masters Thursday was perfect proof that the naked statistics don't always tell the full story...

Kevin Na’s Masters Thursday: Lies, Damned Lies And Statistics

Some would say that statistics tell you everything you need to know about your game. Maybe they do over a long enough period.

But look at them in isolation and you can jump to the wrong conclusion if you read too much into one particular statistic.

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Just take a look at Kevin Na's Masters Thursday, when he became the first player to hit every green in regulation or less since 2009.

That must have got him riding high on the leaderboard, right?

Wrong, because he also racked up a demoralising 39 putts to shoot a middle-of-the-pack one-over 73.

It all added up to 73 on Thursday for Kevin Na despite hitting 18 greens in regulation or better
  • He had three three-putts – one on the 2nd from 44ft for par
  • He had one two-putt birdie on the 15th from 75ft
  • Only four of his approach shots were inside 10ft, so really good birdie chances
  • His remaining 14 approaches finished 16ft to 80ft away
  • He did suffer three lip-outs
  • The longest putt he holed all day was 5ft for birdie on 15!

The frustration was beginning to show on several occasions.

On the 12th his head was in his hands after his 9-footer for birdie went straight left off the blade. It never sniffed the hole.

You might then conclude that this was a fantastic ball-striking day hijacked by a disobedient putter.

But that's only partly true because there were several excellent two-putts from long range on Augusta National's notoriously difficult greens.

Not in full control

One of the beauties of the website is that you can now click on a player’s scorecard and see video footage of every shot in a player’s round.

I spent an hour of my life doing just that for Kevin Na’s seemingly perfect ball-striking first round.

The video evidence presents a slightly different picture to the naked stats.

Na probably wasn't quite as flawless tee to green as the stats might have you believe (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Na never really looked in full control of his swing throughout.

One hand came off the club on several drives and approach shots, notably his shot into the 9th and drive on the 11th.

He almost swung himself off his feet a few times, too, particularly on the 15th tee. And he also seemed to hurt his wrist on his approach to the 7th.

But all of these shots somehow found green, fairway or first cut despite the body language, so he was never badly out of position.

If you'd only seen his reaction you would have sworn blind they were heading for trouble.

So, while the raw stats of 18 greens in regulation and 39 putts hint at a perfect ball-striking day, a closer inspection of the evidence tells a slightly different story.

Lies, damned lies and statistics!

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