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Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Tommy Two Gloves, a Statistical Analysis
of the players fighting for his Tour card as we head down the stretch in Tommy
‘Two Gloves’ Gainey. He is currently ranked 104th on the Money List and even
more disconcerting, 170th in Adjusted Scoring Average. Last year he finished
35th on the Money List and 88th in Adjusted Scoring Average.
here’s what I wrote about Gainey in the 2011 Pro Golf
There are some
similarities between Gainey and (Rickie) Fowler and as I stated before, I find
them to be two of the best players without a PGA Tour
what’s going on with ‘Two Gloves?’ First, let’s take a look at his
There are some metrics that stand out,
but I should go over them before we delve further.
I’m sure some will see
the dip in Putts Gained, but Putts Gained is by far and away the most ‘volatile’
metric I use. Meaning, it can change dramatically from one week to the next.
Last week Gainey was ranked 99th and now he’s 110th. If he has a pretty good
tourney with the flatstick, he can easily be at the ranking he was last season.
I would be more concerned if the difference in ranking was 50 points or more at
this time of the year. But since it’s still pretty close, I wouldn’t worry too
much about it.
While I’m a big believer in the Danger Zone play for Tour
players, the difference between 78th and 64th would only equate to a minute
difference in Adjusted Scoring Average and money earned. So I wouldn’t read too
much into that at the moment.
What’s interesting though are his rankings
in Advanced Total Driving, Birdie Zone and Safe Zone play.
improved in Birdie Zone play (shots from 75-125 yards). Last year it was a weak
spot for him and I believe during the offseason he worked on shots from this
distance. It’s a real common theme from the Tour players, caddies and coaches
I’ve worked with, each of them talk about wanting to be an elite wedge player.
But as Gainey shows, it’s often a very overrated part of the game, something I
pointed out in 2011 Pro Golf Synopsis.
There are 2 big reasons for Birdie
Zone shots being overrated.
1. The penalty for a ‘bad’ shot by a Tour
player is rather small and the best Birdie Zone players only average hitting the
shot to about 16 feet, where the make percentage is still fairly low. In other
words, put the best vs. the worst Birdie Zone players together and the
difference in their final scores will be smaller than Safe Zone and Danger Zone
2. It’s the least frequently hit Zone shot per round on Tour.
The Safe Zone (shots from 125-175 yards) is the most frequently hit zone
on Tour. However, it falls behind the Danger Zone in terms of importance because
the Danger Zone is the zone that is the 2nd most frequently visited by Tour
players and the penalty is much more severe.
So in terms of shot attempts
per round, it goes in order of:
1. Safe Zone 2. Danger Zone 3.
And there’s a sizeable drop-off in frequency between Danger
Zone and Birdie Zone.
In terms of differences in Expected Score values
from best to worst, it goes:
1. Danger Zone 2. Safe Zone 3. Birdie
And of course, as far as the correlation to Adjusted Scoring
average, it also goes:
1. Danger Zone 2. Safe Zone 3. Birdie
There is a correlation between a player’s percentage of
shots in the Safe Zone that come from the fairway or tee box and their Safe Zone
proficiency. With ‘bomb and gouging’ being all of the rage, the Tour still shows
that to a degree, hitting fairways is important. Particularly when it comes to
how well you will play from the Safe Zone.
With that, golfers who are
struggling from the Safe Zone tend to run into 1 or 2 areas:
too high of a percentage of their shots in the Safe Zone from the rough (instead
of fairway or tee box).
2. Just a lack of skill of hitting those shots
regardless if they are from the fairway/tee box or the
ADVANCED TOTAL DRIVING
In Gainey’s case,
he’s gone from a player who was more or less ‘above average’ off the tee in 2011
and is now ‘below average’ off the tee this season. My Advanced Total Driving
metric is a proprietary formula that factors in:
Distance 2. Fairway Percentage 3. Average Distance from Edge of Fairway on
tee shots that wind up in the rough.
Driving Distance –
Gainey went from 46th in driving distance last year (296.7 yards) to 25th in
driving distance this year (298.6 yards). When looking at driving distance, it’s
better to look at the *ranking* than the yardage to get a more accurate idea of
the player’s driving distance. I like to think of this along the same lines as
Putts Gained, while an improvement of 21 spots on the ranking is better than no
improvement, I would have to see an improvement of 50+ spots to really see a
Fairway Percentage – Here’s where we start
seeing a difference as Gainey went from hitting 58.97% (130th) in 2011 to 53.47%
(160th) in 2012. Last year he hit 822 fairways (out of 1,394 attempts). This
year he would be on pace to hit 745 fairways. In a world where the difference in
100 ranking spots in Scoring Average can be less than 1 stroke, the drop in
fairways hit is hurting Gainey’s game.
Distance To Edge of
Fairway – Here’s where we see an even bigger discrepancy as Gainey has
gone from 92nd in this metric to 150th.
And having looked at his radar
metrics (club speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, spin, etc), they
are virtually identical. In essence, he’s just more wild with the driver this
So that explains the dip in his Advanced Total Driving metric, but
does it explain his Safe Zone woes?
hitting a lower percentage of his Safe Zone shots from the fairway or tee box.
In 2011, 73.5% of his Safe Zone shots came from the fairway or tee box. That was
151st highest percentage on Tour. But this year he is hitting 69.0% of his Safe
Zone shots from the fairway or tee box, 171st on Tour.
And here’s a look
at his rankings from the Safe Zone distances out of the rough and the
So part of Gainey’s
Safe Zone issues are also flat out worse execution from the Safe Zone. He’s seen
a massive drop-off in his fairway shots from 125-150 yards and a drop-off in his
shots from the fairway at 150-175 yards.
Still, his rough play is even
more worrisome and he’s had even bigger declines from that area. I think that
what is happening is he’s hitting more shots off the grid and further away from
the fairway and he’s having more difficulty from the rough and hitting more
shots from the rough, which is not a good combination.
IMO, the way to
secure his Tour card for this season is to focus on the driving accuracy and
consistency. That will prevent those big number scores that can make him miss
cuts, not make any money and put him behind the 8-ball. It will also help with
his proficiency from the Safe Zone and continue to help him from the Danger
Zone, which he’s shown to be fairly well skilled at. But it does go to show you
how you misleading the idea of improving wedge play can be to a player’s