Stats & Info: 2012 PGA Championship

Garcia, Westwood 'almost' have formula

August, 8, 2012

AP Photo/Peter MorrisonSergio Garcia has 17 top-10s in majors but has never won a major championship.
The PGA Championship is billed as “Glory’s Last Shot.” For many elite players who are without a major championship to their credit, that marketing slogan is more and more true every year.

Lee Westwood has won 22 times on the European Tour, but never a major. He turns 40 in April. Steve Stricker has won 12 times on the PGA TOUR and is major-less. He’ll be 46 in February.

But which player in this week’s PGA Championship is really the best without a major title?

The “Almost Index” is a formula that attempts to statistically deduce who the best player in the world is without a major title. The formula takes into account PGA TOUR wins and top-10’s, European Tour wins and top-10’s, success in major championships, and holding a 54-hole lead in a major.

Here are your top five in the Almost Index entering the PGA Championship:

5. Dustin Johnson
PGA + European Tour wins: 6
Top-10’s in majors: 5
Almost Index: 22.8

In his young career, Johnson has been the definition of “almost” in majors. He held a three-shot lead entering the final round of 2010 U.S. Open. He had an untimely rules violation later that year at the PGA Championship. And he was in contention on Sunday last year at the Open Championship before a triple-bogey on the 14th hole.

4. Steve Stricker
PGA + European Tour wins: 12
Top-10’s in majors: 9
Almost Index: 24.9

Stricker has eight wins in the last four years but has been a non-factor in major championships. Stricker’s last top-5 finish in a major came at the 1999 U.S. Open. No active player on the PGA TOUR today has more wins without a major title than Stricker.

3. Adam Scott
PGA + European Tour wins: 13
Top-10’s in majors: 8
Almost Index: 25.3

Only two players since 1960 have blown a 54-hole lead of four-or-more shots at the Open Championship: Jean Van de Velde and Adam Scott. Scott has finished in the top-15 in each of the last four majors, and has a pair of runner-up finishes in majors in the last two years.

2. Lee Westwood
PGA + European Tour wins: 24
Top-10’s in majors: 14
Almost Index: 33.7

Lee Westwood has finished in the top-3 in seven major championships, the most for anyone in the modern era without a victory. At the U.S. Open this year, he entered Sunday just three shots back of leaders Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, but made double-bogey on the fifth hole and never recovered.

1. Sergio Garcia
PGA + European Tour wins: 16
Top-10’s in majors: 17
Almost Index: 33.8

Westwood has closed the gap on Garcia, but the perennial leader of the “Almost Index” remains at the top of the list for now. Garcia has 17 top-10 finishes in majors since the 1999 PGA -- more than Vijay Singh (16) or Furyk (12) in that same span. Garcia missed the cut at the Open Championship this year after finishing tied for 38th at the U.S. Open.

Tiger's weekend scores are 'major' problem

August, 7, 2012

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesIn order to win his 15th major, Tiger Woods will need to improve his weekend play.
The PGA Championship tees off on Thursday and all eyes will be on Tiger Woods, who will once again try to win his 15th career major championship. Seventeen majors have been played without a Woods win, beginning with the 2008 Open Championship, the longest stretch since Woods’ first full professional season in 1997.

Without Woods’ domination in the majors, we have seen a lot of new faces holding the winner trophy on Sundays. The last 16 major championships have been won by 16 different players, the longest such streak since an 18-event streak from 1983-87.

Also, each of the last three PGA Championship winners (and nine of the last 10 major champs) has been a first-time major winner, including last year’s champion, Keegan Bradley, who won in his first career major start.

Weekend troubles
In addition to his 15th professional major, Woods is also going for his fifth PGA Championship. He would be the third man to win five PGA Championships, joining Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus.

Woods won this event in 2006 and 2007, but didn’t compete in 2008 after undergoing knee surgery. In 2009, he failed to win after holding the outright 54-hole lead – the only time it’s happened in his professional career.

Woods ended his two-and-a-half-year victory drought with a win at Bay Hill in March and now has three PGA TOUR wins this year.

If he doesn’t get first-place this week, it would be the third time in his career that he’s had three wins in a season without a major. It also happened in 2003 and 2009.

Tiger has put himself into contention to win in all three majors this year, but his play on the weekends has been brutal. He has shot a combined -4 on Thursday and Friday at the 2012 majors, but is +13 on Saturday and Sunday.

Where is Tiger Woods coming up short? His wedge play from close range has been extremely inconsistent over the last two seasons. From 2006-08 he ranked in the top five on the PGA TOUR each year in approach proximity from 50-125 yards, but was ranked 163rd in 2011 and is 134th this season.

Running out of time?
This will be Tiger Woods’ final major at age 36, as he turns 37 in December. With Woods still four major titles shy of tying Jack Nicklaus, it’s worth noting that only three players have ever won four-or-more majors after their 37th birthday: Ben Hogan (6), Nicklaus (4) and Sam Snead (4).

However, Woods is still keeping pace with Nicklaus through 59 majors played as a professional. His 14 major wins are the same number Nicklaus had at this point, though Nicklaus had more runner-ups and top-three finishes. Woods, on the other hand, has been far more dominant with a -138 score to par in his first 59 majors, compared to -3 for Nicklaus.