Stats & Info: GOLF

Bubba Watson does it again

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13

David Cannon/Getty ImagesBubba Watson was in command of his swing all weekend.
Two out of three wasn’t bad for Bubba Watson, who won the Masters on Sunday, edging out Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt.

Watson is the ninth player in Masters history to win twice in a three-year span. He became the third player since 2000 to win two Masters in a three-year stretch, joining Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Watson is the third player in the last five years to win multiple majors, along with Mickelson and Rory McIlroy

Watson and Mickelson are the only left-handed golfers to win multiple major championships.

This was Watson’s sixth start in a Masters, tying him with Jimmy Demaret and Arnold Palmer for the second-fewest needed for multiple Masters wins. Only Horton Smith (three starts) needed fewer.

Watson shot a final-round 69. Both times Watson broke par in the final round at the Masters, he won the tournament. Twenty-two of the past 23 champions have broken par in the final round, all except Trevor Immelman in 2008.

How Watson won
Watson fared the same on par-5s at this Masters as he did when he won two years ago -- eight shots under par, which also happened to be his winning score this year.

Watson also limited his bogeys. His nine this year matched his 2012 total.

After needing 33 putts in Saturday's third round (he shot 74), Watson needed only 25 putts on Sunday (69) and didn't have a three-putt.

His 25 putts were tied for third-fewest in the field on Sunday.

The runners-up
Spieth came up three shots short in his bid to become the youngest Masters winner, though he is the youngest in Masters history to finish runner-up or tied for second. Spieth played the last 11 holes on Sunday at 3-over.

Blixt became the first golfer to play under par in each of his first four career rounds at the Masters since Fuzzy Zoeller did so in his 1979 victory. Blixt joined Jesper Parnevik, Henrik Stenson and Niclas Fasth as Swedish golfers to finish as runners-up in majors.

Top stats to know: Masters preview

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8

Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesDefending champion Adam Scott looks to become the fourth player to win the Masters in back-to-back years.
The Masters gets underway on Thursday, with ESPN's coverage beginning on Wednesday. Even without Tiger Woods in the mix, there are plenty of storylines coming out of Augusta.

Here are some of the top statistical storylines we'll be covering.

Defending Champ
Adam Scott is the defending champion. He’s attempting to become the fourth player to win this event in back-to-back years, joining Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-02).

In the last eight majors, Scott is the only player to make the cut in all eight and post a combined score under par (-4).

Phil has a good history
Phil Mickelson is seeking to become the fourth player to win four Masters titles. Since 2001, Mickelson has won the Masters three times and finished in the Top 5 nine times.

This is the first Masters since 1994 in which Tiger Woods will not compete. Woods has finished in the Top 6 eight times in the last nine Masters’.

McIlroy doesn’t have a good history
Last year was a lost year of majors for Rory McIlroy, as he never really found himself in contention and didn’t finish better than seven shots behind the winner.

At the Masters, McIlroy has more rounds of 76 or worse (5) than he does in the 60s (4). Four of those rounds of 76 or worse have come in his last five weekend rounds at Augusta (beginning with his final round 80 in 2011).

The last 21 majors (beginning with Padraig Harrington at the 2008 PGA Championship) have been won by 19 different players. The only repeat winners during this stretch are McIlroy and Mickelson. Fifteen of the champions during this stretch have been first-time major winners, including 12 of the last 15 majors.

First-Round Leader
Just one player in the last 29 years has won the Masters after holding at least a share of the first-round lead. That was Trevor Immelman who shared the first-round lead in 2008 with Justin Rose. The last player to win the Masters after holding the outright first-round lead was Ben Crenshaw in 1984.

36-Hole Leader
Just two players in the last 14 years have won the Masters after holding the 36-hole lead. Trevor Immelman held a one-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker after the second round in 2008, while Mike Weir held a 4-shot lead after 36 holes in 2003 and went on to win in a playoff over Len Mattiace.

Best Bet on Sunday
The eventual Masters champion has come out of the final Sunday pairing 19 out of the last 23 years, but each of the last three winners --Charl Schwartzel (2011), Bubba Watson (2012) and Adam Scott (2013) – have come from outside that pairing.

Cream Rises to the Top
Since 1986, the Masters has been won 17 times by a player with an Official World Golf Ranking in the top 10, more than any other major.

Injury prolongs Woods' record chase

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1

AP Photo/Lynne SladkyTiger Woods had surgery for a pinched nerve in his back and will not play in this year's Masters.
Why is it significant that Tiger Woods is not playing in the Masters for the first time as a pro?

Since last winning a major, in 2008, Woods has six top-five finishes in majors. Three have come at Augusta. So despite his drought, Woods has found his way into contention at a better rate there compared with the other three majors. And, depending on how many majors he will miss, history suggests his quest for the record for career wins in majors might be in serious jeopardy.

How does Woods' run of 18 majors played without a win compare to major droughts of other golf greats?

Jack Nicklaus went 20 majors between his win at age 40 in the 1980 PGA Championship and his remarkable win at age 46 in the 1986 Masters.

Nicklaus' second-longest span between major wins was 12 -- between the 1967 U.S. Open and 1970 Open Championship. Gary Player's longest span between major wins was 15. Tom Watson's was 11. Ben Hogan never had a stretch longer than four between major wins, and Arnold Palmer never had one longer than five.
Since Woods' last major victory, in the 2008 U.S. Open, 19 golfers have won the 22 majors played. The three who have won multiple majors since the 2008 U.S. Open are Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.

Of the 22 majors held since Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, he has competed in 18. Woods' absence next week will extend his drought to 23 majors.

Woods has played three events this season, and his play was not up to his usual standards.

He averaged 287.3 yards on his drives this season after averaging at least 293 yards in each of his other seasons as a professional (he turned pro in 1996).

Running out of time?
The Masters was to be Woods' first major at age 38. With Woods four major titles shy of tying Nicklaus, it's worth noting that only two players have ever won four or more majors after their 38th birthdays.

If Woods is done for the major calendar this year, history says he won't catch Nicklaus, as nobody has won more than three majors after turning 39: Hogan, Nicklaus and Snead, all with three.

Top stats to know: Tiger Woods' preview

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22

Illustration by Trevor EbaughTiger Woods is on a parallel path to that of Jack Nicklaus.
The 2014 PGA Tour gets underway this week at Torrey Pines and there are a number of notable stories related to Tiger Woods this season. Here’s a quick run-through:

• Woods enters the 2014 calendar year with 79 career PGA TOUR victories, four shy of breaking Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82 that has stood since 1965.

Since playing his first full season on the PGA TOUR in 1997, Woods has won at least four times in 12 of his 17 seasons.

• Woods enters 2014 at age 38 with 14 career major championships, five shy of breaking the record of 18 held by Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus also entered his age-38 season with 14 career major titles. Breaking the record will be tough. Ben Hogan is the only player ever to win five majors after his 38th birthday.

For the first time since 1999, Woods could end the year trailing Nicklaus’ major-winning pace. Nicklaus won his 15th major in his 67th career major (1978 Open Championship). Woods will reach that same number of starts at this year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

• The schedules of majors for this year and next year appear to be favorable for Woods.

There will be eight majors contested on seven courses before Woods’ 40th birthday. He has won on four of those courses (Augusta National, Royal Liverpool, Valhalla, St. Andrews) for a total of eight major titles.

He has four wins at Augusta (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005), and one win each at Royal Liverpool (2006) and Valhalla (2000), each of which he will play at this year.

Though Woods hasn’t won a major in a while, he’s been close. Since his victory at the 2008 U.S. Open, he has nine top-6 finishes in 18 starts, the most of anyone in the sport.

• Woods will be starting in a place where he's had much success before, as Justin Ray noted in his column, and as the image below indicates.

Illustration by Trevor Ebaugh

Top things to know: The Presidents Cup

October, 2, 2013

Stan Badz/PGA/Getty ImagesThe U.S. has won 7 of the first 9 President Cups, including all 5 at home.
The Presidents Cup tees off starting tomorrow from the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

We take a look at some of the top storylines.

1. The United States has dominated The Presidents Cup over the years, winning outright seven of the nine times it’s been contested. The U.S. is a perfect 5-0 when the event has been held on American soil.

We might know who will win this event by the end of the first day. In the history of The Presidents Cup, the team with the Day 1 lead has won seven of the nine times.

Three times the U.S. has gotten out to a five-point lead, and twice the International squad has been shut out after the first day of competition.

2. Muirfield Village Golf Club hosts this event for the first time. It’s the same course that hosts the Memorial Tournament each year, where Tiger Woods has won five times (in 14 career starts).

In fact, 23 of the 24 players on these teams have played the course in tournament competition, with Hideki Matsuyama being the lone exception.

3. Tiger Woods enters this year’s event tied with Jim Furyk for the most match wins (20) in U.S. team history. He has also provided the winning point in each of the last two Presidents Cups.

Tiger has been fairly dominant in singles play at this event, winning five of his seven career singles matches.

He’s also been strong in foursome matches (alternate-shot), especially compared to the Ryder Cup, where that has been his worst format.

Tiger has come away with 75 percent of the possible points in his 14 foursome matches in The Presidents Cup, while he’s collected less than half that rate in the Ryder Cup.

4. Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth, who was still an amateur at the University of Texas last fall, will make his Presidents Cup debut, the youngest player ever to compete for the United States. He’s one of four first-timers on the U.S. team, joining Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker.

5. American captain Fred Couples will try to win a third Presidents Cup, which would set a record for a captain for either team in this event’s history.

Under Couples’ leadership, the United States has outscored the International team by nine points over the last two events.

Jim Furyk joins the 59 club

September, 13, 2013
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastJim Furyk shot an 8-under 28 on his first nine holes at the BMW Championship on Friday.
Jim Furyk joined a prestigious club on Friday -– the 59 club.

Furyk shot a 59 in the second round of the BMW Championship to become the sixth player to shoot a round of 59 on the PGA Tour. He's the first player to do so since Stuart Appleby in the fourth round of the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.

Furyk, 43, is the first player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59 with a bogey in the round. Furyk, who shot a 62 four times, bested his previous career-low round by three strokes. He shot six strokes better than any other player at the BMW Championship on Friday.

He hit all 14 fairways, hit 17 of 18 greens, had an impressive 12 one-putts, and totaled just 23 putts. He shot 16-for-17 on putts 15 feet and in, and led the field in Strokes Gained Putting at +4.1.

Furyk is only the second player to shoot a 59 specifically in the second round of a PGA Tour event, the first since Al Geiberger in 1977 at the Memphis Classic.

Despite his record-tying round, Furyk does not have the outright lead through two rounds. He's tied with Brandt Snedeker at 11-under par. Furyk is the second player to shoot a 59 and not have the outright lead after that day. The other player to do so was Chip Beck, who was tied for the lead after the third round of the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational.

Dufner rallies for first major win

August, 11, 2013

US PresswireJason Dufner won his first career major at the 2013 PGA Championship on Sunday.
Jason Dufner shot a 68 in the final round of the PGA championship to win his first career major and third PGA TOUR title overall.

A newcomer on top of the leaderboard is no surprise here at the PGA.

Dufner is the fourth player in last five years to win first career major at the PGA Championship, joining Y.E. Yang (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010) and Keegan Bradley (2011).

Dufner also becomes the 15th different first-time major winner in the last 19 contested and the 19th different winner in the last 21 majors overall. Over the previous 20 majors, there were just 12 different winners.

Dufner trailed by a stroke after 54 holes but that proved to be no obstacle for the 36-year-old, continuing a recent trend of comebacks in majors. All four major winners this year and 15 of the last 19 were trailing entering the final round.

Jim Furyk faded in the final round, shooting a 1-over 71 to finish second. Furyk still has only one major title (2003 U.S. Open), to go along with his three runner-up finishes.

Tiger Woods was not a factor on the weekend and ultimately finished tied for 40th with a plus-4. That matches his worst finish in a major as a professional, excluding events where he missed the cut or withdrew. He also finished tied for 40th at the 2012 Masters.

Woods is now a combined plus-16 in eight PGA Championship rounds at Oak Hill, and has never broken par in any of those rounds.

He is winless in last 18 majors and remains stuck on 14 major wins, which is four behind Jack Nicklaus.

Woods wasn’t the only highly-ranked golfer to struggle at the PGA this weekend. Phil Mickelson, fresh off his Open Championship title, shot a 12-over for the tournament and failed to make par or better in any round. He finished tied for 72nd among the 75 players that made the cut.

Did you know?
Dufner is the sixth golfer to shoot 63 in a round in a major and win. The others are Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, and Tiger Woods.

Could be 1st time in long time for Furyk

August, 10, 2013

Rob Carr/Getty ImagesThings went right for Jim Furyk on Saturday.
Jim Furyk has the lead through three rounds at the PGA Championship, one shot better than Jason Dufner on a day in which good scores were a lot harder to come by.

Here's a look at some of the statistical highlights that recap Saturday and preview Sunday.

Furyk’s furious run
This is the third time Furyk has held at least a share of the third-round lead at a major. He won the 2003 U.S. Open (his only major win) and finished tied for fourth at the 2012 U.S. Open the previous two times.

Furyk is trying to become the second straight 43-year-old to win a major, joining Phil Mickelson.

The last time two majors were won in same season by players 43 or older: Jack Nicklaus (Masters) and Raymond Floyd (U.S. Open) in 1986.

Since 2003, Furyk is 6-for-7 converting outright 54-hole leads into wins.

Furyk shot 28-over in the first three majors of 2013.

He is trying to join Ben Crenshaw and Julius Boros as the only players to wait more than a decade for their second major title.

If Furyk wins, 41 majors will have been played between his two wins. That would be the longest gap since Hale Irwin (43, 1979-90).

Phil & Tiger bringing up the back
Only Gary Woodland has a worse score than Mickelson after three rounds.

Mickelson is 74th at +10 after shooting 78 on Saturday. He’s only fared worse twice through three rounds of a major, in 1996 at the U.S. Open (tied for 80th) and in 1998 at the Open Championship (tied for 79th).

Mickelson's 78 is his highest third-round score in a major in more than 10 years (2002 PGA Championship was his last score that bad).

Oak Hill does not agree with Tiger Woods. When the PGA Championship was held there in 2003, Woods did not break par in any round and finished in a tie for 39th.

He hasn't broken par in any of the first three rounds this year.

Woods is currently tied for 48th. He’s only had two majors in which he fared worse through 54 holes in a major. He was tied for 95th at the 1996 U.S. Open and tied for 67th at the 2002 Open Championship.

Since 1997, Woods and Mickelson have never had a tournament in which both made the cut and both finished outside the top 50.

The international perspective
Henrik Stenson (7-under) and Jonas Blixt (6-under): are third and fourth respectively. Both are natives of Sweden (no Swedish male has ever won a major).

Adam Scott at five-under is trying to become the first Australian-born player to win two majors in the same season. He’s trying to become the first player to win the Masters and PGA Championship in the same year since Nicklaus in 1975.

Stat storylines: 2013 PGA Championship

August, 7, 2013

If you’re curious for the top Tiger Woods storylines heading into the PGA Championship, click here.

But let’s use this space to look at the other notable statistical storylines.

Unpredictability factor
The last 20 majors (since the 2008 PGA) have been won by 18 different players. The only players to win multiple majors in that span are Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy, with two apiece.

Young man’s game
The average age of the last three PGA Champions is 24.3. Compare that to the Open Championship, which has had three straight winners age 42 or older.

The PGA Championship has been won each of the last three years by players age 25 and younger. This is the first time that has happened at a major since the inception of the Masters in 1934.

The defending champ
Two-time major champion McIlroy has two more majors to play before turning 25. In the last century, only four players have won three majors before their 25th birthday: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen.

McIlroy famously signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike before the 2013 season.

The numbers say there could be some validity in the theory that he’s still struggling with his new equipment. His scoring average dropped from best among all golfers in 2012 to 33rd in 2013.

In the last nine majors, McIlroy has one top-20 finish: his win at the 2012 PGA Championship.

Phil the thrill
Phil Mickelson will try to win back-to-back majors for the second time in his career (2005 PGA, 2006 Masters). He has now won five majors since 2004, second most in the sport in that span (behind only Woods, who has six).

Only three other players have won five or more majors since 1980: Tom Watson, Nick Faldo and Woods.

Looking for consistency? Try Adam Scott
Only three players have made the cut in each of the last seven major championships: Adam Scott, Woods and Jason Dufner.

Scott has shot even par -- 14 shots better than Woods, 22 better than Dufner.

Comeback Sunday
Since the 2008 PGA Championship, there have been as many eventual major winners who were fifth or worse entering the final round as 54-hole leaders (five each).

Nine of the 21 winners entered Sunday trailing by at least 3 shots.

Numbers don't favor a Woods win

August, 6, 2013

The PGA Championship is Tiger Woods' final chance to capture a major before turning 38 in December. If he doesn't, his major drought will reach 18 and all eyes will then turn to The Masters in April.

In August 2012, Woods shared the 36-hole lead in the 2012 PGA Championship. But Woods struggled to a 2-over 74 in the third round, and eventual winner Rory McIlroy fired a 67, turning a two-shot deficit into a three-shot lead on the field -- and five shots on Woods.

The PGA Championship also represents the only major Woods failed to win after holding a 54-hole lead: in 2009 when Y.E. Yang emerged victorious after a 3-over 75 by Woods on Sunday.

This PGA Championship also carries significance for Woods' future success.

Only two players have won four majors after turning 38 -- Ben Hogan (5) and Jack Nicklaus (4). Four is the key number as it represents the gap between Nicklaus' record 18 major wins and Woods' 14.

Mickelson's success
What might be surprising though, as Woods has struggled in majors with age, rival Phil Mickelson has gotten better with age.

Mickelson didn't capture his first major until turning 33. Since then, Mickelson has won four more majors and finished in the Top 3 in 12 of 40 majors.

Mickelson is three wins shy of the record for most majors won at age 33 or older. Ben Hogan has the most with eight, one more than Nicklaus, two more than Sam Snead and Harry Vardon.

Woods has played in 17 majors since turning 33. He's won none.

Major trends

The last three winners of the Open Championship were at least 42 years old, and two of the last five Masters winners were at least 39 years old.

But the other two majors have trended toward younger winners.

Forty-two-year old Payne Stewart's win at Pinehurst in 1999 is the only U.S. Open in the last 21 years to be won by a player at least 38 years old.

And 41-year-old Vijay Singh's win in the 2004 PGA Championship is the only one of the last 25 to be won by a player at least 38 years old.

Woods vs. the greats
How does Woods' drought of 17 majors played without a win compare to major droughts of other golf greats?

Nicklaus went 20 majors between his win at age 40 in the 1980 PGA Championship and his miraculous win at age 46 in the 1986 Masters. Nicklaus' second-longest span between major wins was 12 -- between the 1967 U.S. Open and 1970 Open Championship. Gary Player's longest span between major wins was 15. Tom Watson's was 11.

Amazingly, Ben Hogan never had a stretch longer than four between major wins and Arnold Palmer never had one longer than five.

Dreading the weekend?
Woods has been in contention since capturing his last major win in the 2008 U.S. Open -- he has nine Top 6 finishes since then, most of anyone in the sport. But his weekend struggles have been well documented.

In the last six majors, Woods is 11-under in rounds 1 and 2, compared to 23-over in rounds 3 and 4. In his last 20 weekend rounds, Woods is 24-over par. If you eliminate six weekend rounds at Augusta National, Woods is 29-over in the other 14 rounds.

In his last 13 Sunday rounds in majors, Woods shot plus-3 or worse six times. In his first 46 Sunday rounds as a pro, that happened only eight times. And twice in his last 11 Sunday rounds, Woods shot 4-over or worse. That happened only twice in his first 47 Sunday rounds as a pro.

Woods' last sub-par Sunday round in a major other than the Masters came in the 2009 U.S. Open.

The ghost of past struggles
The 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill represents his second-worst major finish in terms of position as a pro (12-over, tied for 39th). It is also one of three majors in which Woods failed to shoot par in any round, joining the 1998 U.S. Open (10-over, tied for 18th) and 1999 Open Championship (10-over, tied for 7th).

Woods entered the 2003 PGA with seven wins in his previous 17 majors, compared to the 0-for-17 drought he is currently enduring.

Woods dominates, fixes weaknesses

August, 4, 2013

Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesTiger Woods had a confident approach all weekend.

A victory for Tiger Woods this weekend seemed to never be in doubt.

But does a win quell the doubts those may have about his ability to win a major as he heads into this week's PGA Championship?

Let's break down this win and see what history shows about how he's fared in majors under similar circumstances.

The details
This is Woods’ 79th PGA Tour title win, three shy of Sam Snead’s record of 82. Woods earned his 79th win at age 37. Snead didn’t get his 79th win until age 47.

Woods improved to 23-for-23 when leading by at least three strokes entering the final round of a PGA Tour event. He’s 42-for-44 when holding the outright third-round lead.

This is the 10th different season in which Woods has won at least five times. No one else has more than eight such seasons.

Woods has now won the WGC-Bridgestone eight times, tying the record for most career wins at a single event. He already shared the mark with Snead. Woods also has eight wins at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times.

Woods has 18 career WGC wins. No one else has won more than three.

How Woods won
Woods entered the weekend tied for 79th in approach-shot proximity and 33rd in greens in regulation. This week, he ranked first and second in the field in those statistics, respectively.

Woods’ average approach shot was nine feet closer (25 feet, eight inches) than his average shots had fared this season entering the week.

Elias Sports Bureau stat of the day
This is the 12th time that Woods has won a PGA Tour Event by at least seven shots. Only two other golfers have multiple wins by seven or more shots since Woods turned pro in 1996. Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els have two each.

Looking ahead
Woods has won on the PGA TOUR the week before a major by six or more shots one time in his career -- the 2007 WGC-Bridgestone. Tiger went on to win the PGA Championship the following week, his sole major win of the 2007 season.

This is the fourth time Woods won an event the week before a major. He has a win and a pair of runner-up finishes in the three previous majors that came a week after winning an event.

This is the 20th time he’s won in the start before a major. He won the ensuing major four times.

But those were not recent wins. Woods has not had such a victory since 2008, as the image below details.



Tiger Woods putts his way to 61

August, 2, 2013
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesTiger Woods shot a 61 on Friday for the fourth time in his PGA Tour career.
Tiger Woods had to “settle” for a 61 in the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

After shooting 9 under par on the first 13 holes, Woods was on pace to potentially record the PGA Tour’s first round of 58. But he made par on each of the last five holes to finish with a 9-under 61.

The 61 matches Woods’ lowest career round on the PGA Tour. He also tied his own tournament course record at Firestone. His other two 61s came at the 2005 Buick Open and the 1999 Byron Nelson Championship.

Woods’ performance this week looks a lot like his dominating win at this event in 2000, when he also shot a 61 in the second round and had a 7-shot lead through 36 holes.

His 7-shot lead through two rounds ties the same event in 2000 for the largest 36-hole leads of his career. That year, Woods went on to win the tournament by 11 shots. His other lead of 6 shots or more came at the 2000 U.S. Open, which he won by 15.

Woods needed 33 putts in each of the last two rounds of the Open Championship, tallying just eight one-putts in those two rounds. In the first two rounds this week at Firestone, Woods has needed 26 putts per round, and has 18 one-putts.

On the first 13 holes on Friday, Woods had a pair of two-putts and no misses inside 10 feet. Over his last five holes, he had three two-putts and missed twice inside 10 feet.

Woods led the field in the second round in strokes gained putting (+4.6) and total putts (22). He was also tied for the lead in one-putts (12). He had four putts of at least 20 feet.

His 61 is the sixth round of 61 or better on the PGA Tour this year, joining Phil Mickelson, Keegan Bradley, Scott Piercy, Chez Reavie and Charley Hoffman.

After opening the WGC-Bridgestone with a 66 and 61, Woods has now shot a 66 or better 16 times at the WGC-Bridgestone, the most such rounds at any tournament. He doesn’t have more than 13 such rounds at any other tournament in his PGA Tour career.

Woods has been 10 under or better through 36 holes three times this year. He won each of those three tournaments.

Past success vs recent struggles for Woods

July, 31, 2013

Allan Henry/US PresswireTiger Woods has seven wins at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational but hasn't won there since 2009.
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational begins Thursday in Akron, Ohio and a major storyline will be Tiger Woods going for his eighth career win at this event. Woods already is one of two golfers (along with Sam Snead) with at least eight wins at a single tournament, having won the Arnold Palmer Invitational eight times.

If wins this weekend, he will become the first player in PGA TOUR history to win multiple tournaments eight or more times in a career.

Woods has won six different PGA TOUR events at least five times - that’s twice as many as any other player. Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead each won three different tournaments five or more times.

Tiger certainly has enjoyed playing World Golf Championships tournaments throughout his career, winning 17 WGC titles.

No other golfer has won more than three titles and only six other golfers have multiple WGC wins in their careers.

Woods’ 17 wins in WGC events alone would put him 6th on the PGA TOUR career victory list among active players. Tiger has 78 PGA TOUR titles in his career, four shy of Sam Snead’s all-time mark of 82.

However, Woods hasn’t won the Bridgestone Invitational since 2009 and in three starts since then, seven of his 12 rounds have been over par. He’s a combined 15-over par in that span.

Contrast that with his performance at the tournament from 1999-2009, when he won it seven times in 10 starts, had just five total rounds over par, and shot a combined score of 103-under.

Regardless of what Tiger does in Akron this week, the PGA Championship the following week will be the primary storyline for Woods. In the last six majors, Woods is a combined 11-under in rounds one and two. He is 23-over in rounds three and four in those tournaments.

At July’s Open Championship, Woods was 4-over on the weekend after going 2-under in the first two rounds. Woods needed 66 putts in rounds three and four at Muirfield – nine more than in the first two rounds.

Phil the finisher: Mickelson unlikely winner

July, 21, 2013
Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesIt was a day full of fist-pumps for Phil Mickelson.

Well, this was a surprise from a statistical perspective in a number of respects.

Phil Mickelson had never had a final round like the one he had on Sunday, capping an improbable comeback from five shots down at The Open to win by three shots.

Mickelson is only the third golfer in the last 100 years to be down five shots after 54 holes in a major to rally to win by at least three shots. The other two were Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters and Justin Leonard at the 1997 Open Championship.

Let’s look at the numbers that go with this unlikely victory.

The history
This is Mickelson’s first Open Championship and fifth major title. His five majors since 2004 rank second to Tiger Woods’ six in that span.

This was Mickelson’s 20th Open start, tying the record for most starts before a first win at The Open.

Mickelson has won three of the four legs of the career Grand Slam, needing only a victory in the U.S. Open, at which he’s finished runner-up six times, to complete it.

Mickelson’s 66 was the lowest final round in a major in his career and tied the lowest final round by a major winner since 2000. It also tied the lowest round of the tournament (Zach Johnson shot a 66 in the first round).

Mickelson, the third straight Open winner age 42 or older, played the final six holes in four under par (four birdies). He totaled four over par on those same holes in rounds one through three.

No player had more than two birdies on holes 13 through 18 in the final round. Mickelson is the only player with four birdies on these holes in a single round in the entire tournament.

Mickelson (age 43) is the oldest player to win a major since Ben Crenshaw at the 1995 Masters (also 43).

Tough day for Tiger
Tiger Woods continued to struggle closing out majors. His 74 tied his highest final round score at The Open as a pro. Over his last six majors, Woods is 11-under in the first two rounds, but 23-over in the second two rounds.

This marked the ninth time he finished in the top-6 in a major since his last major win at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Woods was within two shots of the lead entering the final round Sunday, the sixth time he's been either one or two shots back entering the final round of a major. He's never broken 70 in any of those final rounds, and still never won a major when trailing.

Westwood unable to finish
This marked the second time that Lee Westwood failed to convert a 54-hole lead in a major. In each instance (the other being the 2010 Masters), Westwood lost to Mickelson.

Westwood now has eight top three finishes in a major, the most by anyone without a win since the Masters began in 1934.

Westwood did lead the field in one area this week, finishing with 33 one-putts.


Stats to know: 18 holes left at The Open

July, 20, 2013
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Victory is in sight for both Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood.

Ten of the last 11 Open winners in The Open Championships held at Muirfield were either first or second after 54 holes.

With that in mind, let’s look at the first and second place golfers heading into Sunday’s final round.

Lee Westwood
This is Lee Westwood’s second career 54-hole lead in a major. The other came at the 2010 Masters, when he held a one-shot lead over eventual champion Phil Mickelson. Westwood finished second.

Nobody has more top-3 finishes in majors in golf’s modern era (since 1934) without a win than Lee Westwood’s seven. If Westwood won, it would mark the first time that Englishmen won consecutive majors since 1909.

Westwood has played the font nine in -5 this week, the best of any golfer in the field. His 26 one-putts are the most of anyone at the Open.

Westwood hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation, but his putter saved him at least two strokes when he made a long eagle putt from just off the green on Par-5 5th hole and when he hit a long putt on the Par-3 16th for a bogey.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods enters the final round tied for second. This is his best 54-hole position in a major since the 2009 PGA, when he failed to convert with a share of the 54-hole lead in a major for the only time in his career.

Woods has never won a major without at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He’s trying for his fourth Open title. The only Ameicans with four or more are Tom Watson (5) and Walter Hagen (4).

Woods has fared better on the Par 4s and 5s in this tournament when teeing off with an iron. He’s -4 on those holes in which he’s used an iron, +2 when teeing off with a driver or wood.

Hunter Mahan
Hunter Mahan is tied for second entering the final round of the second straight major.

Mahan began the third round tied for 20th. Only three players have ever won the Open when 20th or worse through 36 holes- Gary Player (tied for 20th in 1959), Ian Baker-Finch (tied for 28th in 1991) and David Duval (tied for 35th in 2001).

Mahan has 13 birdies, tied for the most of anyone in the field.
Mahan is seeking his first major title. His best major finish was tied for fourth at this year’s U.S. Open.

Other notable contenders
Adam Scott is three shots back of the lead. He's trying to become the first golfer to win the Masters and Open Championship since Woods in 2005. He finished second last year, blowing the four-shot lead he had entering the final round.

Zach Johnson is among a group that is four shots back of the lead, but he doesn't have a good final-round history. His last eight final rounds in majors have been par or worse.

Angel Cabrera is also four shots back. He's trying to become the second Argentine golfer to win the Open, joining Roberto De Vicenzo (1967).

Cabrera's best finish at the Open was a tie for fourth in 1999.