Stats & Info: Brandt Snedeker

Top things to know: The Presidents Cup

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
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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.
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesBubba Watson will try to become the rare repeat Masters winner.
With three wins this year, Tiger Woods has regained the No. 1 ranking in the world and dominated the headlines entering the Masters. But 18 majors have been played since Woods last won one, so let’s examine the “Front Nine” and key storylines surrounding other players with a chance to put on the Green Jacket Sunday afternoon.

Don’t Expect Bubba Watson to Repeat
Only three players have repeated as Masters champion and the list reads of golf royalty – Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus.

In fact, each of the last six Masters champions has finished outside the Top 15 each the following year. Considering Watson has just three Top 10s in 20 majors, don’t be surprised to see this trend continue.

The fall – and rise? – of McIlroy
Following a highly publicized equipment switch this season, McIlroy’s game was a work in progress to being the season.

In 2012, McIlroy had five Top-3 finishes and a scoring average of 68.3 entering the Masters. Over his first five events, he did not post a Top-3 finish and his scoring average was nearly three strokes worse than 2012. That was until a runner-up finish in the Valero Texas Open where McIlroy led the field in greens-in-regulation and shot a final round 66.

While McIlroy's game appears to be rounding into form, McIlroy too has had his problems on the weekend at Augusta, putting up Saturday-Sunday scores of 150 and 153 the last two years.

Phil Mickelson looks to equal Arnie and Tiger
Phil Mickelson has his own chase with history going. Mickelson is looking for his fourth Masters title, which is the same number Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have.

Since 2001, Mickelson has three wins and nine Top-5 finishes at Augusta, which is the same number of wins and one more Top-5 finish than Woods has in that span.

Mickelson’s biggest problem lately? Getting off to a good start.

In his last 11 majors, Mickelson has been over par after the first round in nine of them. His average position on the leaderboard after Round One—62nd.

Adam Scott and Brandt Snedeker
The two are linked by near misses both at Augusta and last year at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

Snedeker led after 36 holes, while Scott led by four on the back nine before his historic collapse. But their time is coming.

Scott made the cut in all four majors last year and had the best cumulative score of those players which did. He’s been in the Top 15 in six of the last eight majors and leads the TOUR in par 5 birdie-or-better percentage, an all important stat at Augusta.

If Snedeker is healthy, he also could capture his first major. In his last 16 events, Snedeker has a better scoring average and the same number of Top-5 finishes than Tiger Woods does in that stretch.

If you have won, forget about winning. And if you win, forget about winning
Each of the last six Masters winners did not have a win prior to the Masters the year they won the event. And for the last five Masters champions, it has been a struggle since.

The last five Masters champions have combined for three wins (all by Phil Mickelson) in 327 events since their Masters win.

The last Masters winner not named Mickelson to have a win since capturing the Green Jacket? 2007 winner Zach Johnson.

English Lesson
Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are among the top players in the world, but each is seeking his first major victory. And they couldn’t be any more opposite in their pursuit and shortcoming.

Donald has been a very poor starter in majors, as just five of his last 44 rounds on Thursday and Friday have been under par (31 have been over par). As a result, not surprisingly, Donald has missed the cut or finished outside the Top 20 in 26 of his 38 majors.

Westwood on the other hand has 7 Top 3 finishes in majors since 2008, which is the most by any player in history without a major title. Westwood led the Masters after the first round last year, but given he is 115th in strokes gained putting this year, his putter again could be his undoing.

Greens, Greens and more Greens
If there is one stat which has been the biggest harbinger of Masters success lately, it has been greens in regulation.

Ten of the last 13 Masters champions have been in the Top 4 in GIR for the tournament. And the three which were not – Charl Schwartzel, Angel Cabrera and Mike Weir – were each in the Top 12 in putting.

Some notable names atop the GIR ranking this year include 2012 winner Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker.

Someone new again?
The last 17 majors have been won by 16 different players – only Rory McIlroy has two in that span. And nine of the last eleven major winners were first-time major winners.

Also interesting, since 2009, three players ranked inside the Top 10 have won a major and three players outside the Top 100 have won a major.

Runner-up Need Not Apply
Like Louis Oosthuizen’s chances after losing in a playoff last year?

After reading this, your hopes may be tempered some.

Just once in the last 40 years has someone won the Masters the year after finishing second. That was Ben Crenshaw in 1984. Before that? Jack Nicklaus in 1972.

So while Oosthuizen’s game stamps him as a contender. History says otherwise.

Americans own edge on greens at Medinah

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
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Getty ImagesBrandt Snedeker's excellent putting this year gives the Americans an advantage on the greens.
The Europeans won the Ryder Cup in 2010 in perhaps the most exciting final day in Ryder Cup history. After multiple rain delays, the new Monday finish came down to the final singles match between Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan.

McDowell won when he holed a 15-foot birdie putt, marking the first time since 1991 that the outcome was decided by the final singles match.

If the competition comes down to a pressure-packed putt again on the last day this year, which team has the advantage? The numbers say the Americans.

Strokes gained putting (SGP) is a measurement of how many strokes a player gains on the rest of the field while on the green. A statistic exclusive to PGA TOUR events, it is also regarded as the most comprehensive putting statistic available in the history of golf.

Every player on the American team played enough PGA TOUR rounds to qualify for the statistic in 2012. Seven of the 12 European Tour members did.

Despite that fact, the European team has three of the four worst performers in the field in strokes gained putting. Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose all rank 130th or worse in SGP on the PGA TOUR in 2012.

On the other side, FedExCup champion and American team member Brandt Snedeker leads the TOUR in SGP this year, and two other U.S. team members are ranked in the top ten (Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson). Luke Donald is the only European team member ranked in the top ten this year.

Some may argue that the impact of this putting statistic is flawed because only seven of the 12 European players qualified for the PGA TOUR-only stat.

However, of the five European Ryder Cup players who did NOT qualify for SGP, only one (Paul Lawrie) ranked in the top-35 on the European Tour in putts per green in regulation.

Ryder Cup history tells us that players will stand over a host of crucial putts this weekend at Medinah. The numbers say that more of those will roll in for the Americans than for Team Europe.

Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesAdam Scott has won six of eight events when he's had at least a share of the lead after 54 holes.
Adam Scott will tee off at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday for the first time in his career as the 54-hole leader at a major. Scott’s previous best position entering the final round was a tie for sixth.

Sunday will be the ninth time on the PGA TOUR that Scott has had, at least, a share of the lead after 54 holes. In the previous eight instances, he went on to win six times.

Scott has a four-stroke lead over Brandt Snedeker and Graeme McDowell. Since 1990, six players at The Open Championship have a lead of at least four shots after 54 holes. Only one, Jean Van de Velde in 1999, failed to win.

In the last 16 majors, only four have been won by a 54-hole leader, but two of those wins occurred at the Open Championship: Louis Oosthuizen in 2010 and Darren Clarke last year.

If Scott does not win, it wouldn’t be the first time this season a leader lost a final-round lead. In fact, there have been five wins in 2012 by players who trailed by at least six shots entering final round.

McDowell will be playing in the final group for the second straight major and third time in his last 10 majors. When McDowell won the 2010 U.S. Open, he was three shots off the lead entering the final round. (Three of the last seven majors have been won by a player who trailed by exactly four shots entering Sunday: Webb Simpson trailed by 4 at Olympic; Charl Schwartzel by 4 at the 2011 Masters; and Martin Kaymer by 4 at the 2010 PGA.)

As for Tiger Woods, he has never won any of his 14 major championships without at least share of the lead after 54 holes.

Woods is five shots back of Scott. If Tiger can come back to win, then it would match the largest 54-hole deficit he’s overcome at a PGA TOUR event (2000 AT&T Pebble Beach, 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational).

Don’t forget that in both of Woods’ 2012 wins he had to come from behind. Woods was four shots back at the Memorial Tournament, and one shot at AT&T National.

However, weekends have not been kind to Woods of late at majors. Following his even-par 70 on Saturday, Woods now has just one sub-par round in last 11 weekend rounds in majors. In 2012 majors, Woods is 4-under on Thursdays and Fridays and 10-over on the weekend.

If Scott in fact does win, then he would be 10th straight first-time major winner – which would extend the modern era record. He would also be 16th different winner in last 16 majors.

Snedeker's quick approach reaping benefits

April, 27, 2011
4/27/11
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Every week, Numbers Game provides a stat-based look at the PGA Tour at ESPN.go.com/golf. This week, Justin Ray looks at the three items to keep an eye on this weekend in New Orleans. His full article can be found here.

Brandt Snedeker: Last week’s winner posted the lowest final round score by a winner so far on Tour this season with his 64 on Sunday. Snedeker has a very aggressive, confident approach to the ball when he putts -- if you watched him Sunday you know he spends very little time over the ball before making his stroke.
Brandt Snedeker
Snedeker


His putting numbers may suggest public course patrons and club players quicken their approach on the greens. Snedeker is second on Tour this season in putting average (1.695), fourth in both total putting and one-putt percentage (44.8), and best on Tour on putts from 10 to 15 feet. He’s made 47.8 percent of those this season.

Luke Donald: Lost in Sunday's dramatics in South Carolina was the emergence of a trend regarding the still-world-No. 3. Last Saturday marked the seventh time in his PGA Tour career that Donald held at least a share of the 54-hole lead in an official Tour event; however, it was the sixth time that he failed to win. That’s a 14.3 percent winning clip.

For a bit of context, let’s look at the three most prolific PGA Tour winners of the previous decade. Tiger Woods has won 48 of 52 tournaments (92.3 percent) where he held at least a share of the 54-hole lead in his PGA Tour career. Phil Mickelson (24-for-33) is at 72.7 percent, and Vijay Singh is 19-for-32, 59.4 percent.

Steve Stricker: Just three of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field this week: (3) Donald, (5) Graeme McDowell and (9) Stricker. Stricker will make his first start since finishing tied for 11th at the Masters Tournament, and will be seeking his first win on Tour since his 26-under-par performance last summer at the John Deere Classic.
Steve Stricker
Stricker


Stricker has been a model of consistency the last year or so. His streak of 30 straight tournaments in the money is the longest active run on Tour.

The magic number for Stricker, though, is 70.

Stricker has played 19 PGA Tour stroke-play events since last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. In nine of those events he hit 70 percent of his greens in regulation or better, and finished in the top 10 eight times. In the 10 events that he was lower than 70 percent GIR, he finished in the top 10 just once.

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