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Tiger’s Driving Accuracy

Jul. 22, 2006     By     Comments (6)

Distance may matter, but when Tiger keeps it in the fairway, he's impossible to beat.

Swing ThoughtsWhile everyone is ranting and raving about equipment, flogging, and other factors in the distance debate, I saw one of Tiger's stats tonight on The Golf Channel that I thought was interesting. Here are Tiger's best tournaments since 1999 with regards to driving accuracy:

Year    Tournament        Accuracy     Result
----    ----------        --------     ------
2000    British Open       91.0%        Won
2006    British Open       83.3%*        ?
1999    Funai Classic      85.7%        Won
2000    Bay Hill           83.9%        Won
2005    British Open       83.9%        Won
2001    Memorial           82.1%        Won
2002    Buick Open         82.1%        Won
*Through three rounds

When Tiger keeps it in the short grass, he's doing quite well. I'm willing to bet that a good portion of the above tournaments he wasn't hitting driver much either. Tiger is feasting on Hoylake with his stinger 2-iron off the tee with a plan to stay out of trouble. I'd say that it is working so far.

Discussion

  1. Andy Greenwald says:

    Dave,

    This is just another example where I lose a little faith in the power of the 40-30-20-10 percent breakdown at the player or course level.

    Driving the ball in the fairway means a lot to Tiger's chances of scoring lower than the field. He's won many times driving less than 50% as well, and on those courses, GIR and putts are probably more important.

    In this week's Open Championship, Tiger has 4 or 5 more total putts than Sergio, DiMarco, and Ernie Els, and 7 more than Furyk, and he still leads the Open.

    He is about average with the field in driving distance and putting, but significantly ahead of the field in GIR and Fairways (which is really why he is leading the field).

    I will always agree with you that, in general, putting is more important than driving in scoring, since putting is around 40% of a Pro's score. Each player has different games and plays the course differently (some go for Par 5's, some cannot, some whale on the ball, some do not, etc.).

    This Open course is not made for hitting the driver, and distance does not seem critical. There are other courses (the Phoenix Open comes to mind) where driving distance opens up the course to better scoring opportunities, and so it becomes more important than normal.

    Forgive my rambling. My only point is that each course has a different breakdown of percentages for the 4 factors, and then each player may have a slight variation on that percentages within a course based on their game and skills.

    I am just glad Tiger is showing the world that he can play a placement game very well and that he has had great success when he keeps the ball in the fairway (your stats show that).

  2. Andy, what you seem to fail to grasp is that those "slight variations" are part and parcel. Dave has never said - nor will he say - that everyone exactly fits the 40-30-20-10 rule.

    However, as a general rule, it's the best one out there. It's reasonably good on a single tournament basis, but over the course of a full season, it's very, very good.

    Applying such a formula to one tournament can be enlightening, but using some odd results as "proof" that it's wrong (as it would appear you're intent on doing) is silly at best.

  3. Don Smith says:

    When you can hit a 2-iron stinger 280 to 290 yards as well as he does then you have a big advantage when accuracy is a premium. Not only that his approach shots all weekend at the British Open were much further than everyone else as well, but he mid-iron play was awesome. I agree with you when he's in the fairway he's tough to beat.

  4. Dave says:

    Erik - you took the words out of my mouth as I was reading Andy's comment.

    I never meant the 40-30-20-10 rule to fit a single tournament. It is intended (and was developed) for the results throughout the year. One or two tournaments may not fit perfectly, but that doesn't mean much. The proof is in the long-term and aggregation of numbers.

  5. Andy Greenwald says:

    I guess Dave's 40-40-10-10 analysis was "silly at best".

  1. [... While everyone is ranting and raving about equipment, flogging, and other factors in the distance debate, I saw one of Tiger's stats tonight on The Golf Channel that I thought ...]

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