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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Rory McIlroy versus Dustin Johnson via Shot Gain Data

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“The hardest part about golf is knowing where you should be improving,” says the Scottish European Ryder Cup hopeful, Bob MacIntyre. Bob is currently in the US on a potential seven-week trip, which could see him play in two WGCs, The Players and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill ahead of a possible Masters debut in early April.

Often in the past, the player himself might be the last to know what is letting him down in the heat of the battle but, these days there is so much data on every aspect of the game that there is no excuse for a PGA Tour pro not knowing how precisely his scores are compiled and how he compares with the competition. Perception isn’t always reality. Most golfers (of any standard) think they putt worse and drive better than they do in reality.

Take the World No. 1, Dustin Johnson and former holder of that position, Rory McIlroy as examples, although their many fans would not require a mountain of statistics to tell them why Dustin and not Rory is in the ascendancy right now.

There is plenty of room for improvement when DJ is putting if you ask me. It may be his tortuous pre-putt routine on the greens rather than his stroke that is at fault. If DJ putted his best every week, he’d win far more often and you could say the same about Rory. Neither of them are world beaters with the shortest stick. I cannot offer an opinion on how to improve Rory’s putting apart from saying: he looks ‘wooden’ and lacks feel, which suggests he thinks too much about it and doesn’t allow the putter to flow like his driver does.

To remain at the top in any activity, resting on one’s laurels isn’t an option. So, DJ and Rory good and all as they undoubtedly are have work to do. The figure in front of their names is their current position in that category. You don’t have to be the best at everything to be the best overall, it seems.

Driving Distance: 2-Rory, 324-yards; 8-DJ, 314-yards (an average of 10-yards on every measured drive is a lot)

Driving Accuracy: 62-DJ, 65%; 141-Rory, 58% (that’s a pretty shocking statistic in Rory’s case)

Greens in Regulation: 4-DJ, 76%; 117-Rory, 68% (a significant revelation, I would think)

Shots Gained, Tee to Green: 2-DJ, 2.222; Rory, 1.350 (does that mean if Rory improved by one, he’d be No. 1 again? I’m not sure and it is easier said than done, of course)

Shots Gained Putting: 71-Rory, 0.303; 105-DJ, 0.131 (best player is the 105th best putter, says something. Not sure how one makes shot gains when putting. I would imagine hitting more GIRs is a disadvantage in this category?)

Scrambling: 96-Rory, 60%; 140-DJ, 58% (it is a lesson for us all that the best players in the world must scramble at all)

Shots Gained Total: 3-DJ, 2.354; 12-Rory, 1.661 (again, the best player in the official rankings by a mile still isn’t the best in this definitive category. It makes me wonder about their worth) Compiled before the conclusion of the Genesis Event at Riviera on 21/02/2021.

Before you ask, the No.1 in each of the statistical categories are: Driving Distance: Bryson DeChambeau (who else); Driving Accuracy: Jim Furyk (No. 215 for distance); GIRs: Jim Furyk (No. 144 in putting); SG Tee to Green: Bryson DeChambeau (No. 75 in putting); SG Putting: Andy Ogletree (I know who he is but many won’t); Scrambling: Scott Stallings (dogs that chase cars and pros that putt for pars don’t last!); SG Total: Bryson DeChambeau (if he doesn’t know what he needs to work on, he is not as clever as his publicity says he is)


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