A reader asked me statistically what’s going on with Bubba Watson and Anthony Kim.
Here’s a look at their scoring and money stats
7/11 cuts made (64%)
$565,652 earnings (66th)
$51,423 per event
82nd Adjusted Scoring Average
8/10 cuts made (80%)
$2,904,817 earnings (2nd)
$290,481 per event
58th Adjusted Scoring Average
But, take a look at a few of their rankings:
Putt vs. Avg………….83…………..141
So, why is Watson doing so much better than Kim, despite Kim being much better in Short Game, Putts Against Average, and in particular, Danger Zone rankings?
Well, take a look at my Advanced Total Driving Rankings
Watson – 1st
Kim – 183rd (out of 185)
Still though, typically Danger Zone play has the most influence over a PGA Tour golfer’s success. So what’s going on between these two?
Well, let’s delve into the driving a bit more. Here’s a look at their rankings in the categories I use in my formula to determine ‘Advanced Total Driving.’
Edge of Fwy……….......185…………157
Remember, these rankings are based out of 185 players. Thus, Kim finished last in Proximity to Edge of Fairway (on drives that find the rough) and was almost last in driving accuracy percentage.
Still though, why does this help Watson so much compared to say…Boo Weekley?
Bubba is incredibly long.
Not only with his driver, but with every club in his bag.
There’s two other statistics that Bubba is #1 on Tour with as well.
A. Going for Par 5’s in two
B. Par-5 scoring average
Bubba is going for par-5’s in two a whopping 80% OF THE TIME
In fact, take a look at the current standings of ‘Go For Its’
1. Bubba Watson 79.5%
2. Dustin Johnson 74.7%
3. Robert Garrigus 74.4%
4. Aaron Baddeley 68.3%
5. Charley Hoffman 68.1%
Not only is Bubba leading the Tour in ‘Go For Its’, he’s dominating the stat at an astounding rate.
Here’s a look at Bubba’s percentage of Go For Its over the years (ranking in parentheses)
2007 – 63.2% (19th)
2008 – 68.2% (3rd)
2009 – 67.3% (6th)
2010 – 61.7% (16th)
Bubba is doing by far the best he’s ever done in this category. In fact, the highest percentage of Go For Its since the PGA Tour started tracking that stat was Tiger Woods in 2002 with 78.7%. Usually the leader in this stat is around 72%. And here’s Bubba at 80%.
Meanwhile, Anthony Kim is ranked 46th in Go For It Percentage, but is at 53.5%. But, this is still a big step down from Kim in previous years
2008 – 61.9% (15th)
2009 – 66.2% (10th)
But, that’s not all.
The great thing about ‘Go For Its’ is that golfers, particularly PGA Tour golfers, tend to make LEGITIMATE efforts at going for a par-5 in two. Meaning, if they have a pond that is 270 yards carry and they can only carry their 3-wood 260 yards, they are typically smart enough to not go for the green in two.
With that, Watson is leading the Tour in par-5 scoring average 4.44 strokes. Over the course of a 4 round tournament (provided there are 4 par-5’s on the course), that’s averaging approximately -9 to -10 on par-5’s for the entire tournament. Kim is actually doing well here, too…ranked 39th with a scoring average of 4.62. But, that’s an average of approximately -6 on the par-5’s for a four round tournament.
However, that’s still below Kim’s performance in ’08 where he finished 3rd and ’09 where he finished 11th in par-5 scoring average (for some reason, his 2010 results are not on PGATour.com)
Bubba Watson is winning due to his phenomenal driving of the golf ball. He’s #2 in driving distance and 66th in driving accuracy. Out of the currently players on Tour in the top 10 in driving distance, the player with the best driving accuracy ranking is Keegan Bradley…ranked 105th.
At this point I believe that Watson is gaining a lot of strokes versus the field off the tee on par-4’s and par-5’s. Because of his new found accuracy off the tee, he’s able to go for par-5’s in two at a record rate and thus have the lowest par-5 scoring average on Tour. Even though his Danger Zone ranking is very average, because of his power and accuracy off the tee, he’s able to minimize the times he’s in the Danger Zone. And while his iron play has not been stellar, because he’s so long and he’s finding the fairway he’s putting himself in place to hit shots where at least finding the green in regulation is a high probability. Thus, he’s leading the Tour in Greens In Regulation even though his iron play has been average. And because his GIR % is so high, his below average short game play is not impacting his score very much.
Kim’s play has been marred by poor driving of the ball. Not only is his accuracy at an all time low, but it appears that he’s struggling with his swing mechanics as he’s lost power as well. He finished 11th and 16th in driving distance in ’08 and ’09 respectively. Now he’s ranked 82nd in driving distance.
In fact, it’s safe to say that his Danger Zone, Short Game and Putting have saved him from probably losing his card.
For Watson, I do not believe he’ll be able to keep this pace up. If he does, he’s got as good of a shot as any of winning a Major. However, the best Bubba has ever finished in driving accuracy for the year was 176th and I believe he will eventually gravitate back towards that rather than continue to hit the fairway.
I’m more concerned for Kim even though he has the better stats in the Danger Zone, Short Game and Putting. Mainly because it’s obvious he’s not swinging the driver well and I think that can lead to him not swinging his long to mid irons well when he’s in the Danger Zone.