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Best Player on Tour Without an Obvious Weakness


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I started a Twitter discussion that I thought I'd bring over here as well: who is the best player on the PGA Tour who doesn't have one area of the game that is an obvious weakness for him?

I'm going to restrict this to the PGA Tour. I got a lot of Nelly Korda nominations on Twitter, and she might well top the list. The problem is that the LPGA doesn't currently collect or publish SG stats. Traditional stats and the eye test certainly puts her in this conversation.

For the player without obvious weaknesses, I didn't want to use SG:Total. For a player like Bryson, for instance, his dominant SG:Off the Tee number offset his really awful SG:Around the Green performance. He's 3rd overall in SG:Total; he's quite a bit lower in the rankings I produced.

Here was my procedure to answer that question: I dumped the Tour Strokes Gained numbers for Off the Tee, Approach, Around the Green, and Putting into a spreadsheet. For a first go, I simply averaged each players ranking in those four categories. That produced this list:

rankings.jpg

I kept digging into this spreadsheet, and found things both surprising and not. There are 206 players who qualify for rankings based on SG numbers. Of those:

  • Brooks come in at 11, with 114th AtG.
  • JT is 13th overall, hurt by his 126th in putting.
  • Bryson is 17th, with 124th AtG.
  • Rory is 18th: 87th AtG and 104th in putting.
  • Morikawa is 170/206 in putting, dragging him down to a 34th place ranking in the averages.

The list of guys who are Top-75 in all four SG categories: Cantlay, Rahm, Xander, Webb, and DJ. That's a good start for the list of guys without obvious weaknesses.

At the other end of the spectrum are guys who are killed by one weakness. This list contains some usual suspects:

  • Keegan: OtT 26, App 4, AtG: 47, Putt: 193
  • Sergio: OtT 3, App 54, AtG: 72, Putt: 194
  • Hideki: OtT: 49, App: 7, AtG: 41, Putt: 183

Any thoughts? Or what procedure would you use to answer the question I've posed?

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Strokes gained is Definitely the way to look at this I think. How did Cameron smith look overall? Guessing his OtT hurts him.

I think it’s really tough to go against Rahmbo when ya add those recent wins to the SG

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2 minutes ago, Lacassem said:

Strokes gained is Definitely the way to look at this I think. How did Cameron smith look overall? Guessing his OtT hurts him.

I think it’s really tough to go against Rahmbo when ya add those recent wins to the SG

You nailed it. Cam is 24th in my ranking:

  • OtT: 116
  • App: 71
  • AtG: 29
  • Putt: 9
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Before looking at the list I guessed Xander. 

I am surprised Louis is #1 in sg putting since on the broadcast they harp on putting being a weakness of is the last few years.

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Here's the same data above, but taking each player's worst category and counting it triple value. This means that if a player has one bad category, it will definitely get emphasized. As a neat side effect: all players in the top 10 on this list are top 100 in every SG category:

image.png

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There needs to be a category for attitude.

In a major BK is a different beast.  He gains strokes with his attitude at those events.  
 

This of course is unmeasurable, and has no bearing on anything that you’ve asked.  Here I go again.

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Just now, Shankster said:

There needs to be a category for attitude.

In a major BK is a different beast.  He gains strokes with his attitude at those events.  
 

This of course is unmeasurable, and has no bearing on anything that you’ve asked.  Here I go again.

Yeah, I had one comment that said Rahm's temper was his weakness. Maybe. But it's hard to see that in the numbers.

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47 minutes ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

Yeah, I had one comment that said Rahm's temper was his weakness. Maybe. But it's hard to see that in the numbers.

I think I'd lean with Rahm.  His game looks incredibly solid right this year and he also seems to have worked on his temped a lot since he had his kid.  It's amazing how something like that can change you overnight.  Maybe it helped him a bit with a perspective change?

At any rate, he's obviously still passionate and fiery, but he seems to be using it to more of an advantage now.

 

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I have to say I'm surprised by Hideki's putting.

 

Putting at Augusta is not the easiest, maybe not the hardest. I wonder if it was just a fluke he did putt half decent and the rest of his game saved him.

On the flipside, I'm surprised by Brooks Around the Green number being that low. I always thought he was half decent greenside.

To be fair, I've never really looked into this stuff in the way you have MPR. I'll definitely be paying a little more attention.

Even my own game to see where I can improve.

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They all have a weakness. The ones who avoid it disrupting their game that week usually wins. Nelly as we saw today like several others struggles in the greens

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Putting can vary greatly year to year. My first reaction was Xander, Rahm, and Morikawa. I wonder what the numbers look like for majors only. Koepka would obviously be right there as well.

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Interesting discussion but I think it is hard to just rank players based on strokes gained. It is definitely the best metric,  but what is the difference between the top player and where the subject player is on the list.  meaning is the difference between 1 and 100 less than .05 strokes or is it closer to 1 stroke?    Also is one of the strokes gained categories more beneficial and another more penal?   I think Lou Stagner has put together data charts that show being better off the tee is better than better at putting.  

But to answer your question,  IMO the current top players would probably be Rahm and Morikawa.

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1 hour ago, cnosil said:

Interesting discussion but I think it is hard to just rank players based on strokes gained. It is definitely the best metric,  but what is the difference between the top player and where the subject player is on the list.  meaning is the difference between 1 and 100 less than .05 strokes or is it closer to 1 stroke?    Also is one of the strokes gained categories more beneficial and another more penal?   I think Lou Stagner has put together data charts that show being better off the tee is better than better at putting.  

But to answer your question,  IMO the current top players would probably be Rahm and Morikawa.

I wanted to address your questions earlier when I talked about not trying to find the best player. For that, I think the best category we have is SG:Total. That one takes into account, for instance, that Bryson's advantage over the 10th ranked player off the tee is bigger than Oosthuizen's advantage over the 10th best putter.

What I'm looking for is the best player who's game is balanced: that there isn't one aspect of the game in which he has a glaring liability. Morikawa, statistically, is one of the bottom 20% putters on Tour.

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47 minutes ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

I wanted to address your questions earlier when I talked about not trying to find the best player. For that, I think the best category we have is SG:Total. That one takes into account, for instance, that Bryson's advantage over the 10th ranked player off the tee is bigger than Oosthuizen's advantage over the 10th best putter.

What I'm looking for is the best player who's game is balanced: that there isn't one aspect of the game in which he has a glaring liability. Morikawa, statistically, is one of the bottom 20% putters on Tour.

I saw you post on Twitter so I knew about the SG:Total decision.  As I look across the top players it seems like putting is category that that is the area that most players have as a weakness.   

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15 minutes ago, cnosil said:

I saw you post on Twitter so I knew about the SG:Total decision.  As I look across the top players it seems like putting is category that that is the area that most players have as a weakness.   

For some of the top players, yes. Which is yet further confirmation that "putt for dough" remains wrong.

But there are players who are major outliers in other areas:

  • Spieth | Tee: 121, App: 23, AtG: 7, Putt: 22
  • Ancer | Tee: 23, App: 27, AtG: 111, Putt: 35
  • Harmon | Tee: 62, App: 118, AtG: 21, Putt: 22 (this one shocked me; I would have guessed OtT as his weak point)
  • Day | Tee: 19, App: 120, AtG: 19, Putt: 92 (I had no idea that Day's putting had slipped so much, or that he was a mediocre iron player)
  • Niemann | Tee 12, App 47, AtG: 147, Putt: 17 (Niemann is shockingly good in three areas and really bad around the green)
  • Berger | Tee: 39, App: 6, AtG: 149, Putt: 30 (I didn't realize that Niemann and Berger are the same golfer)

Hoffman, Sungjae, Homa, and Kokrak are also done in chiefly by bad AtG numbers. McNealy is solid in everything but approach play. Spieth, ZJ, Cam Smith, Reed, Power Lebioda, Gooch, Grace, and Perez are whole list of guys who are 1) 100th or worse in driving and 2) 99 or better in the other three categories.

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7 minutes ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

For some of the top players, yes. Which is yet further confirmation that "putt for dough" remains wrong.

But there are players who are major outliers in other areas:

  • Spieth | Tee: 121, App: 23, AtG: 7, Putt: 22
  • Ancer | Tee: 23, App: 27, AtG: 111, Putt: 35
  • Harmon | Tee: 62, App: 118, AtG: 21, Putt: 22 (this one shocked me; I would have guessed OtT as his weak point)
  • Day | Tee: 19, App: 120, AtG: 19, Putt: 92 (I had no idea that Day's putting had slipped so much, or that he was a mediocre iron player)
  • Niemann | Tee 12, App 47, AtG: 147, Putt: 17 (Niemann is shockingly good in three areas and really bad around the green)
  • Berger | Tee: 39, App: 6, AtG: 149, Putt: 30 (I didn't realize that Niemann and Berger are the same golfer)

Hoffman, Sungjae, Homa, and Kokrak are also done in chiefly by bad AtG numbers. McNealy is solid in everything but approach play. Spieth, ZJ, Cam Smith, Reed, Power Lebioda, Gooch, Grace, and Perez are whole list of guys who are 1) 100th or worse in driving and 2) 99 or better in the other three categories.

Sounds like everyone has some Achilles heel in their game or even things that are considered average at because others excel in one particular area.  

Definitely an interesting comparison. 

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9 minutes ago, cnosil said:

Sounds like everyone has some Achilles heel in their game or even things that are considered average at because others excel in one particular area.  

Definitely an interesting comparison. 

Just like us mere mortals

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