Coming up with statistics to prove just how good Henrik Stenson was in 2013 is not difficult.
The Swede dominated the world of golf from July onwards, finishing inside the top-3 in six of his final eight events, carding just five scores over 70 out of 32 competitive rounds, including two majors.
But while Stenson examined the numbers in his newly boosted bank account, I examined his statistics to try and discover what led to his success.
Could it be his incredible accuracy?
Henrik Stenson has improved his GIR percentage at an incredible rate. In the last three seasons he has gone from 187th on Tour, to 87th, to 1st this season. Compared to 2011, Stenson is hitting 2.3 greens more per round. That may sound small, but that is a gigantic leap in statistical terms.
Hitting 71.93% of greens is very impressive, but it is not ground-breaking.
In fact, since 1980 (when the Tour began collecting GIR stats), players have hit more than 71.93% of greens on 41 different occasions.
In Tiger’s 2000 season, the benchmark season for statistical dominance, he become the only player in PGA Tour history to hit more than three quarters of greens for a season, hitting 75.15%.
If not his GIR accuracy, what about his driving accuracy?
Again, over recent seasons, Stenson made a miraculous improvement in finding fairways. From 186th in 2011, he improved to 41st in 2012 and finished the 2013 season ranked 7th in driving accuracy, finding the fairway more than 70% of the time.
However, once again that is not record breaking.
PGA players have finished a season hitting over 70% of fairways 1,432 different times since 1980. As recently as 15 years ago, 90 different players hit more than 70% of fairways in a single season.
Ok forget accuracy, the guy hits it a mile, what about his distance?
Anyone who has watched Stenson play since he turned pro in 1999 knows he is a big hitter. Whilst he has been historically erratic with his driver, he has been able to find fairways with his 3-wood and do so without giving up distances to his peers.
On paper his 290.9 yard average driving distance this season is not all that impressive. 65 players this season averaged more distance off the tee. However, it does play a role in Stenson’s record breaking season.
Truth is it is not his accuracy or his distance. It is both.
In 2013, Stenson became the first PGA Tour player to complete a season averaging more than 290 yards whilst also hitting more than 70% of fairways.
– 932 players have averaged over 290 yards off the tee since 1980.
– 1,432 players have hit more than 70% of fairways for a season.
– In 2013, Stenson was the first to do both.
That one small fact is one large reason Stenson is arguably the best player in the world at the moment. If can repeat that feat next season, I expect he will have a ‘Major’ addition to his already cluttered trophy cabinet.