This past weekend, Jordan Spieth had a share of the lead at The Players Championship going into Sunday before shooting a 74 and finishing tied for 4th. This brought up discussion of Spieth having “collapses” on Sunday, and sparked my interest in seeing what was giving the young superstar issues on the final day. In the end, I found some interesting pieces to the puzzle along with some very typical trends of players that have a tendency to struggle on the weekend.
For starters, his poor play in final rounds has been greatly exaggerated. Here is a look at Spieth’s rankings in scoring average by round, out of 199 players:
Round 3 has given Spieth more issues than Round 4 this season. Here is a look at his scores by event, and I highlighted the weekend scores where he shot greater than 72.
The numbers show that Spieth’s Round 4 “collapses” are overblown. In fact, if he was able to perform better in Round 3 this year, he likely would have come away with at least one victory in 2014 and performed much better in at least three different events.
What we do see is that Spieth is a terrific golfer in Rounds 1 and 2. This is critical to any golfer’s success in events, as there is a very strong mathematical correlation to playing well earlier in an event and having success in that event. For the Tour, it is very clear that Round 1 scoring average has the greatest correlation to success on Tour. That is followed directly behind Round 2 scoring average. There is then is a large drop off when we look at the correlation between success on Tour and Round 3 scoring average. And Round 4 Scoring Average has the lowest correlation to success on Tour of all of the scoring averages by round.
Recently, I took a look at this for state amateur events that were at least two rounds in California, Florida, Georgia and Texas, and the same correlations occurred. Playing well early gives golfers the best chance to win the event. And too many golfers, be it amateurs or professionals, try to play too conservatively early in events in order to ease their way in. This is why Spieth has been so successful this year despite his weekend struggles. He gets himself off to good starts and puts himself in a good position to win the event.
Despite Spieth’s Sunday struggles being exaggerated, I did find some parts of his game that are very typical of Tour players who have issues with performance on the weekend. Here’s a look at Spieth’s key metrics this season versus last season:
What is interesting about Spieth is that while his 2013 metrics were outstanding, he is actually a better short game player and putter this season. But, his driving has badly regressed and this is the most common trend of Tour players that tend to play worse on the weekend compared to Thursday and Friday. Here’s a look at Spieth’s driving metrics:
Spieth’s accuracy and precision off the tee is the biggest reason for his decline in his driving effectiveness and it is a common trend of golfers who tend to have issues playing on the weekend. But, it is also important to take note of his distance metrics.
First, his 2014 rankings are based out of 199 players while his 2013 rankings are based out of 180 players. Here is how his distance rankings compared the past two seasons:
Measured drives are the old fashioned way to measure distance where the Tour uses two holes to measure the drive for each round. This is a fairly important metric, as it is usually done on holes where 95 percent of the golfers will hit driver on that hole. Distance on “all drives” is measured with a laser from ShotLink. When we combine these metrics, we can get an idea of how aggressive the player is off the tee because the rankings should be pretty much the same.
For Spieth, he ranks much better in the All Drives category than the Measured Drives category. This indicates he is fairly aggressive off the tee and does not lay up very often. However, I have some concerns with his distance on “measured drives.” It has dropped noticeably from last year, which indicates he is not hitting it as far when he is pulling out the driver. With that, I want to take a look at his radar metrics to see what the possible changes are this year:
It appears that Spieth may be trying to hit his driver with more of an upward attack angle, because his launch angle and max height are up while his spin rate is lower. The other thing I noticed is that he went from having a rightward-miss bias to a leftward-miss bias. None of these radar metrics are “bad” per say, but I feel it has created a different ball flight and he is struggling to adjust to that.
If there is a large concern for me, it is that typically the most effective drivers of the ball on Tour have kept their spin rate between 2,400-and-2,800 rpm. For Tour players, spin rates that are too low can cause accuracy issues, and Spieth is lowering his spin rate instead of increasing it a bit. Perhaps it is all being done to increase distance off the tee, but he is actually hitting his measured drives shorter this season and is so much less accurate off the tee that he is nowhere near as effective off the tee as he was last year.
And his accuracy issues off the tee have spilled over into his approach shot play. While he is still a very good iron player, his regression is largely due to having less approach shots from the short grass.
So, Spieth’s skill on approach shots has not really changed as much as he is leaving himself with shots that have a higher degree of difficulty.
Lastly, while Spieth has putted well overall this year, there is a key putting metric that he has struggled with that is common in golfers that regress on the weekend:
The reason for Spieth ranking well in strokes gained-putting is that he is a very good putter from 5-to-25 feet. His weakness putting is from 3-to-5 feet. So on the weekends, his struggles with accuracy off the tee are not helped by his inability to consistently make those knee knockers.
I don’t believe that Spieth should be given the “choker” label. As the first set of metrics show, he has actually played pretty well on Sundays this year and Saturdays have been much more problematic. Spieth was not very good from 3-to-5 feet last year, and that will likely be a more difficult issue for him to resolve since he has yet to prove that he can putt well from that distance. However, the bigger issue is with his driving and whether it is a swing mechanics issue, an equipment issue or both.
Spieth should look to get his launch monitor data closer to last year, because he was actually longer with the driver in 2013 and far more accurate which made him a far more effective driver of the ball.
New details in the case of the golfer who allegedly bit off another golfer’s finger
The man charged with biting off the finger of a fellow golfer during an altercation at Southers Marsh golf course in Massachusetts, appeared in court on Monday. Derek Harkins, 46, arrived in Plymouth District Court this morning, facing charges of assault and battery, mayhem and disturbing the peace.
The incident occurred on Friday evening at the Plymouth golf course, where two foursomes were playing the 18th hole. Police revealed that the altercation erupted over a dispute concerning the pace of play.
The victim was 57-year old Daniel Menton, from Marshfield. Menton had one of his fingers bitten off to a knuckle, and although his son attempted to save the finger by placing it in a jar of ice and rushing to the hospital with his father, doctors were unable to re-attach the finger surgically.
According to court documents, Harkins claimed that he had been defending his father when the dispute broke out and that he had found the victim’s finger in his mouth which caused him to bite down. While Menton stated that the sound of his finger being bitten off was akin “to the sound made when someone chews on a Dorito.”
Harkins was released on a $10.000 bail and ordered to stay away from both alcohol and the victim. On leaving the court, Harkins ignored questions from reporters waiting outside, making a quick exit. His lawyer did, however, make a statement, saying that “things aren’t always as they seem.”
Harkins will re-appear in court on Wednesday.
Tour Rundown: Viktor Hovland wins the U.S. Amateur at Pebble, the drama of the first 25 PGA Tour cards
In the final week before the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Webb Simpson gave notice that he will not be a liability as an automatic qualifier to the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. The European Tour welcomed a first-time winner, while the LPGA Tour recognized a veteran winner. The U.S. Amateur crowned a king from Norway, and the Web.Com Tour handed out its first 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-2019 campaign. Pretty good haul for a non-playoff week, wouldn’t you say? Let’s run it all down right not.
Snedeker follows 59 with second Wyndham Championship
In 2007, Brandt Snedeker made the Wyndham Championship his first PGA Tour victory. Eleven years later, he won his ninth title and second in Greensboro. This one was easily as difficult as the first one, thanks to the burden of 59. Unless you’ve been under the fabled rock, you know that Sneds began Thursday with a bogey, then made 1o birdies and an eagle to shoot 59. Guess how difficult it is to stay in contention, let alone win, with the weight of 59 on your shoulders? Yup, that difficult. Somehow, Snedeker did it. He had a challenge on day four from C.T. Pan, coming to 18 tied with the young Taiwanese golfer. As he did on Thursday, Snedeker made birdie at the par-four closer, finishing at 21-under on the week. Pan went OB off the 72nd tee, making double bogey and dropping into a tie for second with Webb Simpson, who had a chance to shoot 60 on the day. He also struggled at the last, making bogey for 62.
Back on top for @BrandtSnedeker.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 19, 2018
U.S. Mens Amateur trophy in Norwegian hands
This year’s final match was never dull; 19 of the 31 holes were won outright. By the time that Californian Devon Bling, rising junior from UCLA, and Viktor Hovland, same class at Oklahoma State (by way of Norway) shook hands on Pebble Beach’s 13th green, history had also been made. Before Hovland and Bling parred the 444-yard par four to seal the former’s 6 and 5 victory, only Arne Dokka (1965 USGA Public Links) had claimed victory for Norway in a U.S. national championship.
After qualifying 24th in stroke play, Hovland strengthened with each match. He was taken as far as the 17th hole only once in his first five matches, winning two matches on the 12th green. In the semifinals, Hovland dispatched the hottest amateur in the game, co-medalist Cole Hammer, 3 and 2. In the final, both golfers exhibited more nerves than excellent golf, with Hovland making fewer errors and winning the birdie battle, 6 to 4. With the triumph, Hovland will achieve another first next April, as the first Norwegian to play in the Masters Championship, at Augusta National golf club.
Lunch will definitely taste better for Viktor Hovland after this par save! Rocks, sand, and a halve. He's 4 up heading into the break.
— USGA (@USGA) August 19, 2018
Nordea Masters is Waring’s first European Tour victory
We do our best to find great action clips, but sometimes, words do better than 1000 pictures. Paul Waring is greyer than one expects from a 32-year old golfer. Until the Nordea Masters, he had yet to win a professional event. A shaky swing on the 72nd hole suggested he might have to wait even longer. Thomas Aiken of South Africa caught a good break and made a sandy for birdie on the par-five closer, to reach 14-under. Already at that figure, Waring drew a lousy stance in the same sand pit, and was fortunate to make par and go to a playoff with Aiken. As the tide looked headed in Aiken’s direction, it suddenly shifted as the South African golfer’s overtime tee ball found water, and his third ended in a bush. Waring striped one down the middle, made par to Aiken’s bogey, and he became the 7th Englishman to ascend victory’s podium in 2018. After all that, you’d think he might be ecstatic, or at least, ebullient. Have a look.
In case you were all wondering…
I still hate golf! ????????????
— Paul Waring (@PaulWaringGolf) August 19, 2018
LPGA Indy Women In Tech vaults Sung Hyun Park to No. 1 again
For most of the day, it looked like Lizette Salas would break through again, for a second LPGA victory. She had posted lightning rounds of 62 and 64 in the 1st and third rounds at the Brickyard Crossing golf course. On Sunday, however, Salas left the 60s for the first time all week, posting 70 with a bogey on her penultimate hole. That 5 dropped her into a tie with Sung Hyun Park, who filed a clean, four-birdie card in round 4. Equal at 23-under par, each had a chance to win on the last hole. Park missed from 8 feet, and Salas, from an excruciating 4. On the playoff hole, Salas erred on a birdie try from 20 feet. Park was deadly from 10 feet, cinching her fifth LPGA win and the world No. 1 ranking.
ICYMI: Final round highlights from @IWITChamp where Sung Hyun Park won on the first playoff hole for her 3rd win of the season.
Watch ==> pic.twitter.com/k7kYYWXbrf
— LPGA (@LPGA) August 20, 2018
Dick’s Sporting Goods Open to Bart Bryant a second time
He’s hoping it won’t take another 5 years for a 3rd PGA Tour Champions victory, but Bart Bryant certainly feels at home in Endicott, New York. The Texas-born golfer overcame Michael Bradley’s 36-hole lead with 7 birdies on day three, and eased on out of the Binghamton area with a one-shot victory. Bryant was the only golfer in the top four to play bogey-free golf on Sunday, and his clean card made the difference. Bradley had yet to win on the senior circuit, and 4 birdies through 14 holes had him even with Sheriff Bart. A wayward drive at the 15th found the deep rough, and Bradley could not reach the green with his second. His only bogey on the day dropped him one behind Bryant. The two matched birdies at the closing hole, with Bryant draining a long putt for the victory.
FOR THE WIN!!!!!!
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) August 19, 2018
Im bookends victories at Portland Open
Sungjae Im won his second victory of the year as the Web.Com regular season came to a close. Im was the first golfer to occupy the top spot on the race for the PGA Tour in the entire history of the Web.Com tour. This week, Im turned in a straight of sorts, posting 65-66-68-67 to win by 4 putts over John Chin. Chin’s two pair of 66s and 69s was 1 better than Erik Compton, the 3rd place finisher. Ben Taylor claimed the last of 25 PGA Tour cards by less than $1000 over No. 26, Wes Roach. Roach wasn’t the only near-miss of the week. For each tour-card recipient, so many others endured the frustration of almost and what if. Roach and others will have a second chance to earn a tour card during the 4 weeks of Web playoffs.
— Web.com Tour (@WebDotComTour) August 20, 2018
GolfWRX Morning 9: Bubble boys’ unknown agony | Snedeker parlays 59 to trophy | Golfer’s finger bitten off (by golfer)
By Ben Alberstadt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
August 20, 2018
Good Monday morning, golf fans. Not all Mondays are created equal, but all Mondays are Mondays.
If you shoot 59 in one of the four rounds of a PGA Tour event, you should ultimately win the event, no? Fortunately, Brandt Snedeker parlayed his record score into his first win since 2016.
2. A Norwegian takes the U.S. Am
AP Report on the 20-year-old’s win…”Viktor Hovland’s week at the U.S. Amateur went so well that even when he made rare mistakes with drives into hazards, it didn’t end up hurting him at all.”
Really cool, indeed.
3. Bryant’s first W since wife’s death
Cheers to Bart Bryant for his first victory since his wife’s death from cancer in April of 2017. Hard to imagine the ordeal he and his wife went through as she endured treatment for brain cancer while he tried to keep doing his job on the PGA Tour Champions.
4. Getting out of Park at the Brickyard
Soft greens + preferred lies = time to step on the gas. That’s exactly what Sung Hyun Park did, which is fitting, considering the venue
5. The merciless Wyndham
Shane Ryan penned a piece on the under-the-radar drama of the regular season’s final event for the (often unknowing) bubble boys.
6. And the analytics suggest…
Rich Hunt is back with his always excellent look at who the U.S. Ryder Cup captain–in this case one Jim Furyk–ought to choose to round out his roster.
Some of Hunt’s Secret Sauce
“There are some simple statistical rules to follow for optimal picks:
Who does this formula point to? Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, and Tony Finau.
7. Ms. Thompson afoul of the rules again
In case you missed it, Lexi Thompson tried to lift and clean her tee ball after it landed in the opposite fairway at the Women in Tech, Saturday. A rules official stepped in and had her replace the ball in its original position–which saved Thompson another penalty stroke for playing her ball out of position.
8. Golfer has finger bitten off…by another golfer
Honestly, I wasn’t sure where to position this story in today’s M9. In a sense, a golfer biting off another golfer’s finger ought to top all other stories…Anyway, details are scarce, but here’s what Dan Kilbridge from Golfweek wrote.
9. Broken club, busted head
From one bizarre golf injury to another. In case you missed this story in the weekend shuffle, Kevin Stadler smashed his club into the turf at the WinCo Portland Open, and the club head smashed a spectator in the head.
The 8 hottest driver shafts of 2018 on the PGA Tour
Bobby Clampett: “The 2 big problems with club fitting”
GolfWRX Members Choice: The best players irons of 2018
Francesco Molinari’s Winning WITB: The 2018 Open Championship
A deep dive into “toe hang” of a putter, and why it matters
Kevin Na’s Winning WITB: A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier 2018
SPOTTED: TaylorMade “GAPR” 2-iron
Blade vs. Mallet putters: What the top-50 players are using (OWGR and SG: Putting)
Everything you need to know about TaylorMade’s new GAPR Lo, Mid and Hi clubs
Bryson DeChambeau’s handshake snub: Big deal or not so much?
Lexi Thompson violates Rules of Golf at Indy Women in Tech Championship
During the third round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship, Lexi Thompson unknowingly ran afoul of the Rules of...
Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods’ caddie, paid a heckler $25 to leave at the WGC-Bridgestone
While Steve Williams would likely have taken a different route, Tiger Woods’ current caddie admitted to bribing a fan to...
A brief cart ride (by his caddie) has big implications for Akshay Bhatia at the U.S. Amateur
16-year-old Akshay Bhatia may be looking for a new caddie for his next event. The rising star of amateur golf...
Amateur makes 3 holes-in-one in 36-hole competition
We’d like to say congratulations to Ali Gibb, 51-year-old amateur golfer, for winning her club championship at Croham Hurst Golf...
Equipment2 weeks ago
Blade vs. Mallet putters: What the top-50 players are using (OWGR and SG: Putting)
19th Hole2 weeks ago
Michelob debuts a staff bag with a keg in it for the PGA Championship
pga tour2 weeks ago
Justin Thomas’ Winning WITB: 2018 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Equipment1 week ago
Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB: 2018 PGA Championship
News3 weeks ago
The Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson $10 million match is set for Thanksgiving weekend
Popular Photo Galleries2 weeks ago
Tuesday’s photos from the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive
19th Hole2 days ago
Lexi Thompson violates Rules of Golf at Indy Women in Tech Championship
Equipment4 days ago
Mizuno announces new JPX 919 Tour Forged irons are coming August 29 (via cryptic Twitter post)