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Best Rounds of 2013 (and the best round ever?)

The 2013 PGA Tour season concluded today at the Tour Championship. I hope to write some more comprehensive season retrospectives in the next few months, but with events remaining on both the Web.com and European Tours, a complete recap will come at the end of the calendar year. However, a short post on the best PGA Tour rounds of the season is appropriate. These are the top-five rounds relative to the field and adjusted for the strength of the field (so a 67 at Merion is roughly equal to a 61 at TPC Scottsdale).

5. Boo Weekley, 4th round at the Tampa Bay Championship
The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is considered fairly difficult and averaged a 71.6 during the final round. Weekley started the round six back of the trio of Justin Leonard, Kevin Streelman, and George Coetzee and in 35th place, but jumped all the way to solo 2nd with a 63, 8.6 strokes better than the field. Weekley followed up this performance with his first victory since 2008 at the Colonial.

4. Keegan Bradley, 1st round at the Byron Nelson Championship
Keegan’s opening round 60 was the second on the PGA Tour in 2013, following Phil’s 60 at the Waste Management Open on a very easy TPC Scottsdale course. The field played TPC Four Seasons in 69.8 that day. Keegan entered the final round in the lead, but Sang-Moon Bae beat him by a stroke to claim his first PGA Tour title.

3. Tiger Woods, 2nd round at the WGC-Bridgestone
Tiger has always dominated at Firestone, but this year’s seven stroke victory was something special. His 2nd round 61 followed a first round 66 and opened up a comfortable seven stroke lead that he would take into the clubhouse Sunday. The field played Firestone in 71.2 during this round.

2. Matt Kuchar, 3rd round at the BMW Championship
This round got lost in the hoopla around the #1 round on this list, but Kuchar shot a 61 when Conway Farms played to a 70.3. Unfortunately for Kuchar, he started the round 16 strokes back of the leader and followed his 61 with a 73 to finish T24. His week was a pretty good example of why momentum likely doesn’t exert influence over golf performance.

1. Jim Furyk, 2nd round at the BMW Championship
It’s funny that Conway Farms was lit-up for the two best rounds of the year as it actually played much more difficult than either East Lake or TPC Boston, which saw a 64 and 62 as the lowest rounds. The field shot 71.1, meaning Furyk’s round registered around 13 strokes better than what an average PGA Tour player would’ve shot that day. Like Kuchar, Furyk didn’t play particularly well in the other three rounds and settled for solo third.

I haven’t checked my entire database, but I’m pretty confident it is the best round on the three major tours since at least 2008. The other two 59s (Appleby in 2010 at the Greenbrier and Goydos in 2010 at the John Deere) came on very easy courses, as did David Duval’s 59 at the 1999 Bob Hope Classic and Chip Beck’s 59 at the Las Vegas Invitational. Bill Barnwell investigated where it ranks all-time at Grantland and determined it was 9th best all-time. He didn’t adjust for the talent of the field however (the BMW field was around 0.3 standard deviations better than PGA average) which would boost Furyk’s round above all but the top four on Barnwell’s list and make it the best round since 1996.

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