Sunday, March 14, 2010

Putts Gained Statistical Rankings

Here's an interesting article by the Wall Street Journal discussing a new statistical study set forth by some MIT mathematicians in order to better rank putters on the PGA Tour. WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE

Here's the key premise to the article:
With this baseline established, the model compares the results of each putt a pro takes to the expected putts-to-go average on that particular green by a hypothetical average field. If a player holes a 15- footer whose value is 1.82, he gains .82 strokes on the field. If he needs two putts, he loses .18 strokes on the field. At the end of the round, the model adds up all the pluses and minuses to produce the net putts-gained statistic.

The best putter in 2009 by this measure was Luke Donald, who gained an average of 0.905 strokes on the field by virtue of his putting skill alone. Mr. Stricker, who finished No. 1 in putting average last year largely because of his proficiency with approach shots, ranked a surprising 69th in putts gained per round. (Deeper analysis by MIT showed that Mr. Stricker's ranking was also negatively affected because he happened to play on the "easiest" greens of all 166 players sampled.)
I applaud the PGA Tour for trying to put this together. This is very much along the lines of baseball's 'Sabermetrics' methodology which is widely used today. For instance, Sabermetrics can measure pitchers performances by looking at how they do given strength of competition and the ballpark they pitch in. So, if Pitcher A has a 3.00 ERA at a 'hitters park' and Pitcher B has a 2.80 ERA at a 'pitcher's park', Sabermetrics can go into detail and show who was truly the better pitcher.

So, here are the rankings from 2009 of 'putts gained.'

1. Luke Donald
2. Tiger Woods
3. Ben Curtis
4. Bryce Molder
5. Brad Faxon
6. Jim Furyk
7. Brandt Snedeker
8. Brian Gay
9. Matt Kuchar
10. Aaron Baddeley
11. Greg Chalmers
12. Parker McLachlin
13. Bob Heintz
14. Chris Couch
15. Joe Ogilvie
16. Matt Jones
17. Fredrik Jacob
18. Jason Day
19. Geoff Ogilvy
20. Webb Simpson
21. Kevin Na
22. Pat Perez
23. Charlie Wi
24. Scott McCarron
25. Jeff Klauk
26. Mike Weir
27. Stephen Leaney
28. Zach Johnson
29. Stephen Ames
30. Jesper Parnevik
31. Ben Crane
32. Spencer Levin
33. Padraig Harrington
34. George McNeil
35. Hunter Mahan
36. Stewart Cink
37. Ryuji Imada
38. Brandt Jobe
39. Nathan Green
40. Paul Casey
41. Corey Pavin
42. Mark Wilson
43. Retief Goosen
44. Ryan Moore
45. Tim Clark
46. Richard Johnson
47. Vaughn Taylor
48. Jerry Kelly
49. Carl Pettersson
50. Chris Riley
51. Bob Estes
52. David Mathis
53. Dicky Pride
54. Harrison Frazar
55. Tim Petrovic
56. Kenny Perry
57. Dean Wilson
58. Eric Axley
59. James Driscol
60. Bo Van Pelt
61. Daniel Chopra
62. Nick Watney
63. Anthony Kim
64. Kevin Sutherland
65. James Nitties
66. Lee Janzen
67. Angel Cabrera
68. Jeff Quinney
69. Steve Stricker
70. Marc Leishman
71. Henrik Stenson
72. Jeff Overton
73. Ryan Palmer
74. Jeev Singh
75. Lucas Glover
76. Mathias Gronberg
77. Rod Pampling
78. Ted Purdy
79. Steve Marino
80. Paul Goydos
81. Kevin Streelman
82. Michael Letzig
83. JJ Henry
84. Todd Hamilton
85. Steve Lowery
86. Charley Hoffman
87. Justin Leonard
88. Justin Rose
89. Bubba Watson
90. David Toms
91. Ian Poulter
92. Aron Price
93. John Mallinger
94. Arjun Atwal
95. Scott Piercy
96. Marc Turnesa
97. Chad Campbell
98. Troy Matteson
99. Dustin Johnson
100. Matt Bettenco
101. Graeme McDowell
102. John Senden
103. Brad Adamonis
104. Brian Bateman
105. Woody Austin
106. Scott Sterlin
107. Bill Lunde
108. Scott Verplank
109. Bill Haas
110. Mark Brooks
111. Colt Knost
112. Cliff Kresge
113. Cameron Beckman
114. Johnson Wagner
115. John Merrick
116. Martin Laird
117. Troy Kelly
118. Nick O'Hern
119. Brian Davis
120. John Rollins
121. Jason Dufner
122. David Bergani
123. Michael Allen
124. Bob Tway
125. DA Points
126. Tom Pernice,
127. Martin Kaymer
128. Rich Beem
129. Andres Romero
130. KJ Choi
131. Charles Howel
132. YE Yang
133. Sergio Garcia
134. Patrick Sheehan
135. Wil Collins
136. Sean O'Hair
137. Steve Elkington
138. Chris Stroud
139. David Duval
140. Tim Herron
141. Brendon Todd
142. Jimmy Walker
143. Matt Weibring
144. Bart Bryant
145. Chris DiMarco
146. Brian Vranesh
147. Brett Quigley
148. Kent Jones
149. Phil Mickelson
150. Tim Wilkinson
151. Tommy Armour
152. Aaron Watkins
153. Frank Licklit
154. Chez Reavie
155. Dudley Hart
156. John Huston
157. Camilo Villegas
158. Steve Flesch
159. Kevin Stadler
160. Davis Love II
161. Brendon de Jonge
162. Steve Allan
163. Tag Ridings
164. Kris Blanks
165. Charles Warre
166. Mark Calcavecchia
167. Leif Olson
168. Mathew Goggin
169. Fred Couples
170. Rory Sabbatini
171. Rory McIlroy
172. Jeff Maggert
173. Briny Baird
174. Jason Bohn
175. Jonathan Kaye
176. Roland Thatch
177. Tyler Aldridge
178. Ernie Els
179. Alex Cejka
180. Derek Fathaue
181. Robert Garrigus
182. Jarrod Lyle
183. Glen Day
184. Michael Bradley
185. Shaun Micheel
186. Greg Owen
187. Billy Andrade
188. DJ Trahan
189. Casey Wittenberg
190. Tom Lehman
191. Kyle Stanley
192. Heath Slocum
193. Jonathan Byrd
194. Ken Duke
195. Greg Kraft
196. Trevor Immelman
197. Gary Woodland
198. Nicholas Thompson
199. Peter Lonard
200. Tommy Gainey
201. Boo Weekley
202. Scott Gutsche
203. Carlos Franco
204. Rocco Mediate
205. Matthew Borch
206. Robert Allenby
207. Jason Gore
208. Peter Tomasulo
209. Vijay Singh
210. Stuart Applebly
211. JP Hayes
212. Darron Stiles
213. Notah Begay
214. Danny Lee
215. Joe Durant
216. JB Holmes
217. Rick Price
218. James Oh
219. Kirk Triplett
220. Adam Scott
221. Billy Mayfair
222. Jay Williamson
223. Will MacKenzie
224. Ricky Barnes
225. Robert Gamez

Let's take a look at this in conjunction with my '2009 Total Ballstriking Stats'

First, let's take a look at the top 10 PUTTS GAINED and see where they ranked in my total ballstriking stats. The ballstriking rankings will be in parentheses:

1. Luke Donald (141)
2. Tiger Woods (13)
3. Ben Curtis (169)
4. Bryce Molder (47)
5. Brad Faxon (184)
6. Jim Furyk (52)
7. Brandt Snedeker (86)
8. Brian Gay (93)
9. Matt Kuchar (97)
10. Aaron Baddeley (179)

Now, let's take a look at the top 10 BALLSTRIKERS and their putts gained rankings:

1. Jason Bohn (174)
2. Heath Slocum (192)
3. David Toms (90)
4. Jay Williamson (222)
5. Robert Allenby (206)
6. Greg Owen (186)
7. Joe Durant (215)
8. John Senden (102)
9. Kenny Perry (56)
10. D.J. Trahan (188)

I'll probably be referring to this in my 'scouting reports' and Major Championship overviews on the forum.



Dan said...

Great post, Rich.

The stat really bears out just how bad the Aussies Scott and Allenby have been putting. Allenby in particular should be killing it if he could putt halfway decently (although he's showing some signs of improvement recently, it still looks very fragile).

I think this stat will become very important in form analysis - what do you think?


PS - Looking forward to hearing further swing updates from you now you're doing the ABS modules.

Rich H. said...

I asked Geoff Mangum about it over at his forum and he didn't like it. I don't think it was specific enough for him and it really doesn't help him or the amateur. It does help the PGA Pro know if they are good or if they suck, but not why they are good or why they suck.

I'm not as down on it as Mangum is because I think in the end it provides a decent ballpark on how well guys putt. Any of those guys in the top 10 have been regarded as great putters in their career. So it's not a big mystery as to why when looking at their rankings.


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