2006 Ryder Cup Picks

Lehman got exactly what he wanted. Two consistent golfers with great short games. Time will tell, but I think he made the right choice.

The Numbers GameTom Lehman went with two veterans to round out the 2006 Ryder Cup team. No, we’re not talking about Fred Couples and Davis Love. While not the flashiest players, Stewart Cink and Scott Verplank gave Lehman what he was looking for – consistent, solid golfers with above average short games.

Were there better options? Should Lehman have considered someone else? That’s what I’ll look at this week in The Numbers Game.

PGA Championship 2006

Sometimes you have to look at the past to look into the future. The PGA Championship in 1999 was mostly about Tiger and Sergio, but there were a few other guys that had good weeks back then that need it now.

The Numbers GameIt’s hard to imagine that it was seven years ago that Tiger and Sergio were paired in the final round at Medinah in the PGA Championship. It was supposed to be the start of a rivalry. It was supposed to be as if Jack and Seve were in their prime at the same time. Tiger lived up to his end of the bargain, but Sergio is still searching for the magic he once had.

There were a lot of other good golfers out there in 1999 that played some great golf at Medinah. This week in The Numbers Game, I’ll look at some of the other players that played seven years ago and see if it means good or bad things for each of them.

Tiger and Jack

Jack and Tiger. Tiger and Jack. When looking at their victories over the years, they are both impressive. Tiger seems to be ahead, but Jack still has something to say about it.

The Numbers GameSince everyone is on the Tiger train this week, I thought I’d jump aboard. Cody wrote a great article earlier in the week and so did Gary Van Sickle over at CNNSI. Gary stole some of my numbers thunder, but I have some other interesting nuggets to share this week in The Numbers Game about Tiger at 50… wins that is.

Since Jack Nicklaus is constantly disparaging Tiger‘s achievements, I thought I’d do a bit of a comparison between the two. Even though it’s difficult to compare golfers from different eras, the results can still be quite revealing. For me, it has cleared the picture up a bit more and prepared the stamp “Greatest Golfer of All Time” for Tiger Woods.

Read on to see what I mean.

Top Ten Courses I’d Love to Play

It may not be your top ten, but these are the ten courses I want to play the most.

The Numbers GameOf course there are more than ten, but I thought about this the other day and it got me going. One can only hope to play just a few of the great golf courses in their life. I have a few that are realistic and a few that are not but this is a list of those I’d like to play, not a list of those that I can play.

This week in The Numbers Game, it’s a top ten list of courses I want to play. (By the way, any help in playing these courses is appreciated… <grin>).

British Open Nuggets

There are always some interesting numbers to look at after a major championship. Tiger showed he could win in a different manner and the Ryder Cup outlook changed as well.

The Numbers GameI thought the Open Championship at Hoylake was one of the better Opens in recent memory. Tiger showed what his greatest asset is: his mind. He didn’t have to overpower the course, just take what it gave him… and it gave him a lot of stinger 2-irons.

This week in The Numbers Game I’ll take a look at a few of the numbers from and related to the Open Championship. Also, I’ll see if The 40-30-20-10 Rule holds up for a tournament on a links style course.

Titleist Forged 695MB Irons Review

Titleist’s Forged 695MB is not for the weekend duffer, but for the golfer who takes tremendous pleasure in hitting a forged, muscleback iron on the button.

Titleist 695MB HeroLet’s cut to the chase: you’re either interested in Titleist’s 695MB irons or you’re not. If you’re looking for a forgiving iron with no feel, these aren’t the irons for you. But if you’re a single-digit handicapper with a penchant for the buttery sweet feel of a modern muscleback, read on.

Titleist’s Forged 695MB Irons are the successor to the previous model, the 690.MB (preceded themselves by the dotless 690MB). Sister set to the Forged 695CB, the 695MB offers an evolutionary, not revolutionary, step forward in the line.

If Titleist’s irons were placed on a scale with the more forgiving Forged 775.CB irons and the rare Forged 660 at the other, the 695MB would occupy just beside the 660 and a good bit away from the combo 735.CM.

But again, we already knew that. What’s new in these models and how well they work, why, that’s what the rest of the review will tell you. Read on, but bring your proof-of-handicap…

Tiger’s Driving Accuracy

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.

Thoughts on Hoylake

Hoylake is a bit of an unknown. That doesn’t keep us from trying to figure out what might happen.

The Numbers GameWe get to see a new ‘old’ course on the rotation this year. We’re used to seeing the names St. Andrews, Muirfield, and something with a Royal on the front of it. The 2006 British Open will be contended on another Royal course, but it is known as something else.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club is the official name of the course commonly called “Hoylake.” The British Open was last played there in 1967 and is back after a 39-year absence. There aren’t many numbers out there to research, but there were a few things about Hoylake and the British Open to consider in this week’s The Numbers Game.

Drop In Distance

There has been a drop in distance off the tee this year and now we only have eleven golfers averaging more than 300 yards per drive.

The Numbers GameLast year, one of The Sand Trap‘s favorite golf course architects had a regular update his site about the number of players averaging over 300 yards on the PGA Tour. This year, he’s spared us from such updates. I didn’t really understood why until I took a closer look.

There were 26 players last year averaging over 300 yards per drive. This year, it has dropped to eleven. This week in The Numbers Game I’ll look not only at the longer players, but the rest of the tour to see if the drop in distance is spread out and how it affects another stat.