How He Won: Brendon Todd at the Byron Nelson
May 20, 2014
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Some quick stats from Brendon Todd’s victory this weekend:
On average, PGA Tour winners putt much better than normal on the weeks they win. Since the start of 2013, the winners putted 1.3 strokes/round better than normal. Brendon Todd putted 1.9 strokes/round better than he normally does, a massive 2.4 strokes/round gained on the field. That putting performance would rank 7th among 2013-14 winners behind Bill Haas (AT&T National), Tiger Woods (Arnold Palmer), Russell Henley (Sony), Jimmy Walker (Frys), Webb Simpson (Las Vegas), and Matt Jones (Houston).
On average, PGA Tour winners also play tee to green much better than normal. Since the start of 2013, the winners played 1.8 strokes/round better tee to green than normal. Brendon Todd is basically average tee to green normally and he played in 1.65 fewer strokes/round. That over-performance is fairly low for winners; since 2013, only Tiger Woods (WGC-Cadillac), Jonas Blixt (Greenbrier), Jimmy Walker (Frys), and Matt Jones (Houston) were worse tee to green. Todd joins Blixt, Zach Johnson (Hyundai T of C), and Travelers champ Ken Duke as the only two winners in 2013 not to hit more greens than the field. Todd hit only 60% of his greens compared to 62% by the field, as well as driving it six yards shorter than the field off the tee. This was not a tournament won with the driver, woods, or long irons.
His tee to green performance was almost entirely a result of his scrambling. I don’t have shot-by-shot scrambling data for the other 2013-14 winners, but Todd gained 6.1 of 6.5 tee to green strokes from his short game – including three hole outs worth over a stroke a piece. I suspect that is abnormal. Some level of scrambling over-performance is a necessity to win on Tour, but I’m referring only to short game strokes. Gaining over six strokes in that manner seems extremely high.
It’s important to note that short term performance in putting and scrambling is much more random than other tee to green play. Based on that, it’s unsurprising that PGA Tour winners over-perform by so much in their putting. In fact since the start of 2013 only Steven Bowditch (Texas) has won a tournament putting worse than the field; only four others have gained fewer than two strokes on the field through putting over the weekend.