<
>

Three on the Tee at golf's "5th major"

Numbers Game is a weekly statistical look at the world of golf. “3 On The Tee” looks at a trio of players to keep an eye on at this week’s Players Championship:

Tim Clark: Your defending champion missed 11 weeks earlier this year with an elbow injury, but will look to get his 2011 campaign back on track this week at Sawgrass. Clark hasn’t found the winner’s circle again since last year’s win, but he has had a handful of good finishes since last May: a T-2 earlier this year at the Sony Open, and a T-4 at the 2010 RBC Canadian Open among them.

If Clark were to (shockingly) win this week, he would make history. Amazingly, there has never been a back-to-back winner of The Players in the tournament’s history. Since 1982 when the event moved to TPC Sawgrass, only five players have even finished in the top 10 the year following their victory, and even that hasn’t happened since Adam Scott finished tied for eighth in 2005.

Lucas Glover: Last week, the PGA Tour unveiled its new putting metric: strokes gained – putting. The new stat evaluates how many shots a particular player is better (or worse) than the field based on the percentage of players who make a putt from a certain distance.

Both the Tour and the CBS television team couldn’t have had a better result for the new stat, which was all over the broadcast last weekend. Tops in the field last week in strokes gained – putting was Lucas Glover, your tournament winner. Glover gained a total of 10.59 strokes on the field putting at the Wells Fargo Championship -- which explains how you can be T-52nd in the field in fairways hit, outside the top 25 in greens in regulation, and still win the tournament.

Tiger Woods: Woods makes his first start since the Masters this week. It marks the 10-year anniversary of his only career victory in the event (remember: “better than most”) back in 2001 -- he’s finished in the top 10 just once since then. Woods was the last player to win The Players and a major championship in the same calendar year; Tiger won the Masters that year after taking the title.

Only two other players have ever won this event and a major championship in the same calendar year: Hal Sutton in 1983 (PGA Championship) and Jack Nicklaus in 1978 (British Open).

You can read Justin's whole post by clicking here.