Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but in a sports world driven by analytics, they can certainly tell part of it. This year on the US PGA Tour, a few statistics said a lot about the seasons of some of the best players in the world, some good, some bad, but all telling. Here are 14 numbers that particularly caught our eye for 2018.
11 — Number of players who ended win droughts of at least at 4½ years on the tour. They are as follows, from longest dry spell to shortest: Charles Howell III (11 years, 9 months), Paul Casey (8 years, 11 months), Kevin Na (7 years, 9 months), Keegan Bradley (6 years, 1 month), Ted Potter Jnr (5 years, 7 months), Ian Poulter (5 years, 5 months), Tiger Woods (5 years, 1 month), Phil Mickelson (4 years, 8 months), Webb Simpson (4 years, 7 months), Matt Kuchar (4 years, 7 months) and Gary Woodland (4 years, 6 months). Lee Westwood also ended a victory drought of 4 years and 7 months on the European Tour at the Nedbank Challenge. Westwood’s last US Tour win came at the 2010 FedEx St Jude Classic.
11 — Number of top-10 finishes without a victory for Tony Finau. The 29-year-old became the first golfer to have at least 11 top-10s and no wins since Jim Furyk, who did the same in both 2014 and 2009. In the past 20 years, only five other players have done that: David Toms in 2002 (12 top-10s), Vijay Singh in 2001 (14), Steve Flesch in 2000 (13), Chris Perry in 1999 (14) and Davis Love III in 1999 (13).
11 — Number of first-time winners on tour last season: Ryan Armour, Patrick Cantlay, Patton Kizzire, Austin Cook, Brice Garnett, Satoshi Kodaira, Andrew Landry, Aaron Wise, Michael Kim, Francesco Molinari and Andrew Putnam. (Apparently, 11s were wild on tour in 2018.)
32.5 — Average number of spots Tiger Woods jumped in the Official World Golf Ranking after each event he played beginning with the 2017 Hero World Challenge and ending with the 2018 Hero. Woods entered the 2017 Hero at 674th in the world and has climbed all the way to his current 13th spot.
4.57 — Tiger Woods’ par-5 scoring average. The number matches the worst mark in Woods’ career; in 2013 he also had a 4.57 average. However that year it was good enough to tie him for fourth on tour. This year, that mark tied him for 24th, by far the worst standing of his career in the category. Prior to this season, Woods had never finished worse than T-6 for a season in par-5 scoring average. In nine of his first 10 seasons on tour, he finished first, including eight straight to start his career.
9 — Number of times the world No.1 ranking changed hands in 2018, the most times since the ranking’s inception in 1986. The previous record was 7 in 1997 and 2012. The four players who passed it around? Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka, who currently holds the title.
$US451,704.33 — Average amount of money Justin Rose made per start on the PGA Tour this season, not including the $US10 million FedEx Cup prize. If you include that, he made $1,007,259.89 per start.
278.9 — Average driving distance in yards in 2018 for Brian Stuard, who ranked dead last in that statistic among the 193 players that qualified. Averaging 300 yards on the nose didn’t even get you in the top 50 last season. In 1998, 300 yards would have ranked first on the PGA Tour, and 278 would put you in the top 30.
75.3 — The field scoring average on Saturday at the US Open, a day in which 19 players shot 78 or worse at Shinnecock Hills.
98.78 — Jordan Spieth’s percentage of made putts from three feet. It might sound good, but it actually ranked 181st on tour for the year. His performance from close proximity was in line with his overall putting for the season, as he finished a career-low 123rd in strokes-gained/putting. Still, he managed to nearly shoot 63 on Sunday at Augusta (if not for missing a short putt at the 72nd) and amass nearly $US3 million in earnings for the year. Players have had much worse “down” years, to say the least.
2.372 — Average total strokes-gained against the field per round for Dustin Johnson, who lead the PGA Tour in that category this season. Since 2004, only three players have eclipsed that number in a season: Tiger Woods (five times: 2004-2007, 2009), Jim Furyk (2006) and Rory McIlroy (2012).
0 — Combined Major victories for the three players with the best cumulative scores to par in the Major championships for the season. Justin Rose lead the way at 12-under, Rickie Fowler came in second at 11-under and Tony Finau in third at nine-under. In fourth? Francesco Molinari, who finished the Majors with a cumulative score of eight-under, his winning score at Carnoustie, meaning he played the other three in even-par. Brooks Koepka missed the Masters due to injury, but was 13-under in the other three; Masters champ Patrick Reed missed the cut at the PGA Championship, but was 11-under in the remaining Majors.
68.00 — Saturday scoring average for both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, tying them for first overall on the PGA Tour. Each, however, had just one victory, and though both were impressive (Woods’ 80th career W at the Tour Championship, Rory’s Sunday charge at Bay Hill), they probably both think they could have had more. Their Sunday scoring averages played a role in that, with Woods’ dropping nearly two strokes to 69.75 (41st on tour) and McIlroy’s two full strokes to 70.00 (T-54 on tour).
68.27 — Final-round scoring average for Brooks Koepka, the third-lowest of any player who played at least 15 final rounds in a season on tour since 2001. The two lower players? Tiger Woods in 2002 with an average of 67.71, and Luke Donald in 2011 with an average of 68.06.