PGA Tour Career Earnings Cann Table

Ok, I’m now obsessed with the Cann Table.

Having done the World Rankings earlier this week, I thought I’d see how it portrayed the PGA Tour’s Career Earnings list. Here’s the current top-50 earnings in PGA Tour history:

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Tiger & Torrey

Among the dozens of affairs that came out during the Tiger scandal, one affair that wasn’t mentioned was that with Torrey.

Located on the West Coast of the US, Torrey and Tiger have had an ongoing relationship since 1998. In that time, Tiger has visited Torrey on an annual basis around this time of year and often left with a massive smile on his face and a massive… check in his pocket.

I am, of course, talking about Torrey Pines, host to this week’s Farmers Insurance Open and Tiger Woods first event of 2014.

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Tiger once said ”Once we figure out what courses we like, we tend to play those.” I have a feeling there are fewer place in the world Tiger likes more than Torrey Pines.

His success at Torrey Pines is fairly incredible and he heads there this week with a good chance of becoming the second player to win 80 PGA Tour events, and the first to win 9 PGA Tour events at one course.

At 38 years old, Woods has 79 PGA Tour victories. He’s picked up those 79 wins at 25 different events. A closer look at those 25 events tells you that he’s actually won an event multiple times (18) more than twice as much as he’s won an event just once (7).

It seems local/course knowledge is one of the keys to Tiger’s success.

In fact, the last time Tiger won a non-Major/WGC event at a course he was playing for the first time was 16 years ago, at the 1998 BellSouth Classic.

Dive deeper into his 79 PGA wins and you’ll see that more than 30% of Tiger’s wins (24) have come on just three courses: Torrey Pines, Firestone and Bay Hill. Add together Tiger’s career earnings at those three venues and Tiger would rank 23rd on the career money list with more than $26.7m in earnings.

But back to Tiger and Torrey.

On Thursday, Tiger will tee it up at Torrey Pines for 15th time. In his previous 14 visits, Tiger has won 8 times and finished outside the top-10 just once. His wins include 7 Farmers Insurance Open (formerly the Buick Invitational) titles and one US Open in 2008.

To put that in perspective, Tiger has more wins at Torrey Pines (8 in 14 events) than Rory McIlroy has in his PGA Tour career (6 in 71 events).

Tiger’s played against 2,159 players at Torrey Pines, and beaten 2,081 of them. That is a win percentage of 96.39%.

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When it comes to Woods love affair with Torrey it appears, for Tiger at least, it was love at first sight. In his first 11 visits to Torrey Pines, he carded 30 rounds in the 60s, compared with just one over-par round.

In 56 total rounds on either the South or North Course, Woods is 174-under par with a stroke average of 68.80. His numbers suggest he is more likely to shoot 67 or less (18 times) than 71 or higher (16 times).

His earnings at Torrey Pines are pretty staggering:

$8,195,096 in total earnings
$585,364 per event
$146,341 per round
$8,106 per hole*
$2,120 per shot

So, is PGA Tour win No. 80 just a few days away?

These numbers would suggest yes and bookies have Tiger as a heavy 5/2 favourite. With a career winning percentage at Torrey Pines of 57%, it is maybe a surprise his odds are not lower.

With only Sam Snead ahead of him on the all-time PGA Tour wins list, Woods will look to get within two wins of the record this week. Snead won his 80th PGA Tour title in 1960 aged 47. Tiger would be in good-standing if he could home this year’s Farmer’s Insurance Open on Sunday, at the age of just 38.

Tune in this weekend to see if another photo of Tiger and Torrey will be added to the record books.

tigerwoods1*includes playoffs: 2 additional holes in 2006 and 73 holes at the 2008 US Open.

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World Rankings Cann Table

Much like numbers or statistics can put an achievement in context, a graphic or infographic can further explain the point a reporter/blogger/writer is trying to make.

Jenny Cann was a big Arsenal football fan and lover of stats. In 1998, she developed a table for displaying the Premier League standings, assigning teams to their points tally rather than their position in the league. Known as the Cann Table, the graphic is still used by many sources across the internet.

It proved especially popular recently in displaying the current battle for relegation going on in the Premier League.

I loved the idea.

In fact, I spent most of the weekend thinking about how I could use it to display statistics or rankings. But how could I make it translate or explain some aspect of golf?

Alas, I decided on the world rankings. So, using the Cann Table, here is the current top-50 players in the world, using the world rankings rating of average-points-per-event.

worldrankingcanntable

Conclusion: Tiger is in fact, very good.

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The History Of Long And Straight On The PGA Tour

Just as sex sells in the fashion, music and film industries, it seems distance sells in golf.

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”I’d rather be hitting L-wedges out of the rough than trying to hit greens with 6, 7, 8 irons.” – John Daly, aka Wild Thing.

Manufacturers are constantly telling us how much further their latest club goes and how a simple £400 investment can having you hitting it as far as Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson or Gary Woodland.

Distance sells. And it is the way the game has trended in recent years. When was the last time you saw Jerry Kelly (PGA Tour leader in driving accuracy for the last two years) on a billboard or advert, selling accuracy?

I was curious how the impact of the modern, long, athletic-golfer has impacted the way PGA Tour players perform off the tee. After some research, I compiled a graph.

It shows the numbers of players hitting 70% of fairways vs the number of players averaging 290 yards off the tee, each year since 1980 (when PGA records began).

graphIt is easy to see there has been a serious shift in numbers over the past decade. However, it seems to that the data can be broken down, and explained, in four sections:

– The Early Years
– The Metal Years
– The Tiger Years
– The Modern Years

The Early Years

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It’s not a surprise that no player averaged 290 yards in the early years. It wasn’t until 1997 that any player on Tour averaged more than 290 off the tee. In the early years of persimmon woods and balata balls, the emphasis was on accuracy and control.

Just look at the size, build and swings of the golfers of this era, and you will understand just how different the game was. Remarkably, Calvin Peete hit at least 80% of fairways in 10 consecutive season from 1981 to 1990. An amazing achievement, when you consider that not one player in the last 10 seasons has hit more than 80% of fairways.

The Metal Years

2

Whilst metal woods existed in the early 80s, it wasn’t until the 90s that players and manufacturers embraced the idea. The Big Bertha driver was launched in 1991 and professionals began to reap the benefits of the consistency and forgiveness of the new materials.

It wasn’t long before balls began to advance as well, with Titleist launching the Professional range of balls in 1993. The new combination of driver and ball sent drives straighter and longer, but still no player was able to break the 290 yard mark. Clearly, there needed to be a new breed of golfer, who could muscle the ball that far. Thus…

The Tiger Years

3

Whilst John Daly had managed to bomb his way to victory at the 1991 PGA Championship, it wasn’t until a much-hyped Eldrick Woods turned pro in 1996 that distance really started to matter.

Tiger was lean back in those days, but stories of him being, pound-for-pound, the strongest athlete at Stanford University soon started to make sense. He and Daly led the distance revolution and Tiger specifically showed the success you could at majors if you were hitting wedges into par-4s and mid irons into par-5s.

The key crossover happened in 2003. This was the moment when the number of players hitting the ball over 290 yards (64) exceeded those hitting 70% of fairways (40).

Players began to get bigger, drivers became bigger and the distances pros were hitting the ball was also getting bigger.

The Modern Years

4

It seemed there would always be a limit when it came to distance and driver technology and it seems to have happened in the past few years. Drivers are capped at 460cc (cubic centimetres) and are now focusing on adjustability and spin more than size and distance.

Whilst accuracy on Tour hasn’t improved, there has been an interesting trend in the number of players hitting it over 290 yards:

2011: 106
2012: 92
2013: 72

In two years, the number of players on Tour averaging the 290 yard mark has dropped by a third (32.1%).

In fact, the average driving distance for a PGA Tour, which rose every year from 1993 to 2006, has actually decreased year-on-year in 5 of the last 7 years.

It seems the game’s biggest hitters are scaling back. Here’s the top-10 longest drivers from the 2013 season, with their average driving distances compared to 2012:

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I’ll let you take your own conclusions from the data, but it would appear that, for now, equipment and golfers are reaching (or have reached) the peak of their distance, and are scaling back. It will be interesting to see if, in the coming season, players start to become more accurate as a result.

One player, not concerned by the data, is Henrik Stenson. In 2013, he became the first golfer in PGA Tour history to hit more than 70% of fairways and 290 yards off the tee in the same season. Read more on his statistical dominance.

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(Statistically) Debating The Best Player Of 2013

Stenson, Tiger or Scott? Who was the best golfer on the planet in 2013?

Untitled-4After seeing Scott and Stenson win over the weekend, I thought it was time see what the stats say.

Wins

As was clear in the PGA Tour Player Of The Year voting, winning matters. Tiger’s five wins were more than anyone in 2013.

Tiger Woods: 5
Adam Scott: 4
Henrik Stenson: 3

Having missed the cut in Abu Dhabi in January, Tiger flew to California, won the next week and went on to win 5 times in the space of 11 starts.

1Unsurprisingly his win percentage (win/events entered) was also the best this year:

Tiger Woods: 27.8%
Adam Scott: 22.2%
Henrik Stenson: 10.3%

However, every win is not the same. Take Scott for example, he’s won the last two weeks in Australia against relatively weak fields. So how do the big-three’s wins rank against one another? Here’s the world ranking points from each win:

Tiger Woods:

Farmers Insurance Open: 50
WGC Cadillac Championship: 74
Arnold Palmer Invitational: 66
THE PLAYERS: 80
WGC Bridgestone Invitational: 76
Average strength of win: 69.2

Adam Scott:

The Masters: 100
The Barclays: 74
Australian PGA: 22
Australian Masters: 26
Average strength of win: 56

Henrik Stenson:

Deutsche Bank Championship: 74
Tour Championship: 60
DP World Tour Championship: 54
Average strength of win: 63

So the “five wins” argument for Tiger does have some legs, especially when you consider the strength of the wins. For the purpose of world ranking points, Tiger’s T4th at Augusta was worth more points (27 pts) than either of Scott’s two wins in Australia (22 and 26 pts).

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Top-10s

Winning any given event is tough. 140-plus players each week, thousands of miles covered to get to events, different courses/conditions etc. Even in his most dominant season in 2000, Tiger won less than half the events he entered (9 of 20). Top-10s appears to be a good gauge of a player’s consistency throughout a season.

Here’s a look at the percentage of top-10s vs starts for the big-three (plus total number of top-10s in 2013):

Tiger Woods: 50.0% (9)
Adam Scott: 44.4% (8)
Henrik Stenson: 37.9% (11)

Other than Steve Stricker (61.5%) Tiger is the only other player with a top-10 in at least half his starts.

Scott isn’t far behind and whilst Stenson’s percentage might not be strong, a rough start to the year cost him. In his final 13 events, Stenson had 10 top-10 finishes including 7 top-3s.

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Scoring

We are lucky in golf, in that each time you compete you are rated by your score. However you get there, your score represents how well you managed your game. This scoring average is taken from all Tour-sanctioned events in 2013:

Henrik Stenson 69.72
Tiger Woods 69.82
Adam Scott 69.93

Only Justin Rose and Steve Stricker had better scoring averages than the big-three this year. The margins between Stenson, Woods and Scott are so small but none the less Stenson comes out top.

It should be noted that no one shot a lower combined score in the majors than Scott this year (+2 total), an unofficial title he’s won the last two years.

Average Finish And Missed Cuts

When any of the top players play well they’ll compete for a title, but when things start going wrong, how well can a player perform? Here’s a look at the average finishes of the top-3 (along with their missed cuts):

Adam Scott: 18th (0 MCs)
Henrik Stenson: 21st (2 MCs)
Tiger Woods: 22nd (1 MCs)

Note: A missed cut was recorded as a 71st place finish for the purpose of this information.

A telling display of just how solid a year Scott had. He played the weekend every week he teed it up and is the only one of the big-three to finish on average inside the top-20.

2013 Australian Masters: Day 4
World Ranking Points

The best method of judging a player’s performance is, of course, the world rankings. It is however based on a rolling, two-year system. So how did the players compare based on the points they picked up in 2013?

Tiger Woods: 461 points
Henrik Stenson: 448 points
Adam Scott: 341 points

Scott’s relatively limited schedule and weak-field wins in Australia hurt him in the rankings. As a result, Tiger and Stenson look equally strong.

Henrik Stenson of Sweden shakes hands with playing partner Tiger Woods of the U.S. after they completed their round during the first round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta
Money

Let’s just say, Stenson has this covered.

Amazingly, the Swede earned more money this year (including bonuses) than he has earned up until 2013, in the last 14 years as a pro. He banked $19.5m this year, winning both the Race To Dubai and Fedex Cup.

But taking bonuses out of the equation, how did he stack up?

Tiger Woods $8,942,115
Henrik Stenson $8,610,169
Adam Scott $5,279,434

Clearly, winning pays.

First place checks are typically 50% more than second place checks, so Tiger’s five wins have paid him well based on these numbers. Mind you, Stenson played 60% more events than Tiger or Scott. So how do the numbers change based on dollars-per-event?

Tiger Woods $496,784
Henrik Stenson $296,902
Adam Scott $293,302

Very similar numbers from Scott and Stenson, but Woods clearly knows how to cash in at the events he plays.

Just a little fun, I thought it would be interesting to see how much each of the big-three earned per shot this year:

Tiger Woods $1,941
Henrik Stenson $1,187
Adam Scott $1,110

Why didn’t they just hit more shots? (…yes, I’m joking)

World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Final Round
Win-Loss Record

Until this year, I have never considered this for golf. Win-Loss Record basically looks at how you did compared to everyone you played against.

For example, if you played an event with 9 other people and finish tied second with one other player, your Win-Loss Record would be 7-1-1, as you beat seven players, lost to one and tied with one.

Here’s a look at how the big-three did in 2013 (Win-Loss-Tie):

Adam Scott: 1536-236-41
Tiger Woods: 1526-346-39
Henrik Stenson: 2346-607-104

In terms of win percentage, here’s the comparison:

Adam Scott beat 83.48% of the fields he played in.
Tiger Woods beat 79.85% of the fields he played in.
Henrik Stenson beat 76.74% of the fields he played in.

Unsurprisingly this favours Scott and Woods. Their limited schedule, playing courses they like, was mirrored in their Win-Loss Record.

Stenson started the season slowly, but lit up the second half of the season. Beating 76.74% of more than 3,000 opponents you face in a season is still pretty good.

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Originally, I was going to make my conclusion now, but then I thought: “all these stats are good, but I want to know how they did against each other, in the same events.” Here’s what I discovered.

Head-To-Head

Woods, Scott and Stenson played in the same field 12 times: four majors, four PGA playoffs, two WGC events, The Players and The Memorial. Here’s how they finished in those events:

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Of the 12 events, Stenson finished best in five (including three of the four majors), Scott best in 3 and Woods finished highest in 3 also. All three got knocked out of the WGC Matchplay in the first round.

Average Finishes In The Same Field:

Henrik Stenson: 17th
Adam Scott: 19th
Tiger Woods: 24th

Scoring Average In The Same Field:

Henrik Stenson: 69.84
Adam Scott: 70.23
Tiger Woods: 70.25

Interesting to see just how well Stenson played in the big events (i.e. Majors and Tour Championships) and especially when he played in the same field as Woods and Scott.

As for individually, head-to-head, it doesn’t show as much. Here’s a look at their head-to-head records with one another:

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Conclusion

Stenson was the best golfer in the world in 2013.

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Yes, Tiger got five wins.Yes, Scott won the Masters. But ultimately Stenson didn’t limit his schedule, he played a lot and he played really well. In a world of “what have you done for me lately”, has done the most.

Luke Donald may have won both money titles in 2011, but that is essentially a result of a solid year spread over a large number of events on both Tours. Winning both Tour Championships is a result of beating the best players on each Tour, in the playoffs, on the biggest stage (outside of the majors).

Here’s what Stenson’s banked since teeing it up in Scotland on July 11th (including bonuses):

$5,436 per shot
$20,780 per hole
$374,042 per round
$139,178 per day
$997,445 per week
$1.5m per event

Enjoy your cash Henrik, you earned every penny.

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The Difference Between A Straight Drive And A Good Drive?

What makes a good driver of a golf ball?

rorySomeone that hits fairways? Someone that hits it far? Someone that can shape the ball both ways? A combination of all? Recent PGA Tour findings suggest it may be something else.

As the PGA Tour and their stats provider, Shotlink, continue to develop and build a statistical database, new metrics are being created to better analyze specific performance. Much like Strokes Gained Putting has changed the way players, coaches and analysts evaluate a player’s performance on the greens, a new stat has been created to measure the effectiveness of a Tour player’s tee shots.

Aptly named “Good Drive Percentage” it is defined as:

“The percent of time a player hit a good drive. On Par 4 and Par 5’s, the number of fairways hit, + the # of Greens or fringe in regulation when the drive was not in the fairway on the tee shot. / by the number of par 4 and par 5’s played.”

Essentially it measures the percentage of drives hit by a player that do not hurt their score or scoring potential. Indirectly, it takes a look at the severity of a players misses.

If you’ve ever watched golf and TV and you see the ball trickle into the first cut of rough and thought “that’s a shame, he won’t get a ‘fairway hit’ for that”, well this metric accounts for that.

Often players will take aggressive lines or approaches off the tee to get closer to the green and improve their chances on the hole. If they miss the fairway but leave themselves 100 yards in, it is perhaps a better outcome than hitting the fairway but leaving 170 yards. Therefore that might be considered a good drive.

Alternately if a player find a bunker or hazard off the tee, this will heavily impact their ability to hit the green in regulation, thus hurting their Good Drive Percentage.

So how does this stat perform on Tour, which ‘good drivers’ in 2013 were perhaps not ‘good’ drivers, and vice versa?

Top 5 Good Drivers:

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Biggest Risers (vs Driving Accuracy):

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Biggest Fallers (vs Driving Accuracy):

Luke Donaldn

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Interestingly, if you take a look at the current top-6 players in the world and their Good Drive Percentage, it is pretty telling. Whilst Tiger Woods had one of his best driving seasons based on hitting fairways, his Good Drive Percentage compared to the other best players, shows how Tiger’s misses hurt his score.

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Typically, Tiger’s misses are pretty wayward, damaging his chances of finding the green. This is shown in his drop of 43 places in the Good Drive rank.

Even at this point, you might be saying “I watch a lot of golf I’ve never heard of this stat, it can’t be that relevant?”

Perhaps, but as anyone who read Tim Rosaforte’s “Making Every Number Count” piece on Golf Digest learned, Brandt Snedeker used good, not necessarily straight, drives to impressive effect earlier this year.

bsAt the RBC Canadian Open in July, Snedeker – who has hit at least 60% of fairways in each of his 8 season on the PGA Tour – hit just 44.64% of the fairways, ranking a lowly 58th of the 73 players that made the cut.

Snedeker won three.

Along with his stat guru Mark Horton, Snedeker noticed something in his game and the course set-up that devalued accuracy and placed a heavy importance on hitting “good drives” rather than fairways.

It may not be as highly regarded as Strokes Gained Putting yet, but keep an eye for references to Good Drive Percentage in 2014.

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The Most Important Metric For Tour Success

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If you are a golfer over the age of six, you will have undoubtedly heard the phrase:

“Drive for show, putt for dough”

After research, I would like to propose we alter this advice and make it:

“Drive for show, putt for dough…and hit greens for wins”

What gives me the right to alter one of golf’s commandments? Nothing really. I am just the only one who puts the time in to research the statistics and note my conclusions.

My first argument for the change begins by looking at the top-10 players in the following statistical categories and the money they earned in 2013:

Greens In Regulation: $26.3 million
Driving Distance: $24.2 million
Strokes Gained Putting: $22.7 million
Driving Distance: $13.4 million

So whilst putting importance appears to > driving distance, greens in regulation would appear > than both putting and driving distance.

Convinced?

I didn’t think so, so I dived deeper.

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I looked at all the 2013 PGA Tour events that used ShotLink data (PGA Tour’s leading statistic tracking technology).

Of the 40 events on the schedule, 34 of the events have published metrics including Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy, Greens In Regulation (GIR), Proximity To The Hole, Strokes Gained Putting and Putts Made Distances. The four majors, WGC Matchplay and Puerto Rico Open did not publish full statistics from their events.

Of the 34 events measured:

0 were won by players leading the field in Driving Distance
0 were won by players leading the field in Driving Accuracy
2 were won by players leading the field in Strokes Gained Putting
5 were won by players leading the field in Greens In Regulation

Looking deeper still, I wanted to see how ranking inside the top-10 in each statistical category, for an event, impacted your results.

74.3 % of winners ranked inside the top-10 in Greens In Regulation
61.8% of winners ranked inside the top-10 in Strokes Gained Putting
31.4% of winners ranked inside the top-10 in Driving Accuracy
17.1% of winners ranked inside the top-10 in Driving Distance

Ladies and gents, I rest my case: Greens In Regulation > Putting > Driving Distance/Accuracy.

jimmy-walker

In case you are wondering if this will remain true during the 2014 season, which began last week, it will. Jimmy Walker won his first PGA Tour event in 188 attempts at the Frys.com Open Sunday.

Walker ranked last in the field in driving accuracy.

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