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The numbers behind going for it or laying up: No. 10 Riviera

Charlie Beljan John Merrick PGA Tour Pro Golf Synopsis Rich Hunt Riviera Northern Trust Open

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#1 RichieHunt

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 04:58 PM

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The numbers behind going for it or laying up: No. 10 Riviera


by Rich Hunt   |   February 18, 2013

This past weekend, we saw No. 10 at Riviera Country Club provide PGA Tour players with a dilemma as to whether to go for it on the 315-yard par-4. In my last column, I discussed the numbers on Tour behind going for par-5′s in two shots and that in general, golfers are better off going for par-5′s in two shots rather than laying up to a specific yardage. However, much of the decision revolves around whether or not the golfer can get the ball inside 40 yards of the hole. If not, he would be better off laying up to a specific yardage.
With No. 10 at Riviera, it’s a different situation given that it is a par-4 rather than a par-5. Initially, my thoughts were that Tour golfers would be better off going for No. 10 off the tee because there was no out-of-bounds or water in play. Here is what the final numbers through all four rounds looked like:

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Most golfers at the Northern Trust Open went for the green off the tee and in the end, the scoring average slightly favored those who went for the green. However, that does not tell the entire story.

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What is noticeable here is that laying up worked in rounds 2 and 4. Those rounds also had a higher percentage of lay-up shots off the tee. However, golfers who went for it in rounds 1 and 3 were the only rounds where the average score was below par.

So, what happened?

The pin location changed.

In rounds 2 and 4, the pin was in the back location of the green. In round 1 the pin was in the middle and in round 3 the pin was up front.

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Perhaps this table will paint a clearer picture:


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With the percentage of pars made being fairly similar, where we can start to see the bigger difference is in the percentage of birdies and bogeys made. And it easily favors laying up when the pin location is in the back and going for it when it’s not in the back.

So, what happens?

In the first round, the pin location was in the middle. The issue the players that laid up were having was that they would often miss the green on the approach shot or hit the approach shot well past the pin and be left with a very difficult 30-plus foot putt. If instead they went for the green, they were more likely to get the approach shot closer to the hole, even if they missed well left or found the right greenside bunker. Thus, when the pin was in the middle, the player who laid up would have to hit a quality tee shot to find the fairway and then another quality approach shot just to come away with par. If they went for the green, the degree of difficulty was lower on both the tee shot and second shot. It may not be pretty hitting out that right greenside bunker or out of the longer grass, but in the end it was more effective way to playing the hole.

When the pin location was in the back of the green, the golfers who went for the green could not miss left because it was guarded by a bunker. And if they missed in the right greenside bunker, they could not get up and down. In fact, not only player who hit the right greenside bunker on Sunday was able to get up and down for birdie.

And when the pin location was up front, the hole was easy regardless if the golfer laid up or went for it. But by going for it on the front pin location the golfer gave themselves a chance to make eagle. No. 10 on Saturday netted three eagles, all from players who went for it on the drive.

Finally, laying-up off the tee on the Sunday pin location was the difference in John Merrick winning the Northern Trust Open. Merrick laid up during regulation and in the playoff and was -1 under par for the day. Charlie Beljan went for the green both times and played the hole +2 over par, losing in the playoff.

http://www.golfwrx.c...-no-10-riviera/


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#2 hayzooos

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:18 PM

Cool stats, thanks for putting them together. I wonder if things will change next year...will be interesting to see if they do.
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#3 jteague44

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:38 PM

very cool thanks for doing this. Definitely one of the most enjoyable holes to watch on the PGA tour

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#4 DLiver

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 06:46 PM

Richiehunt, your threads are uniformly excellent. Always a great read and very very informative. Thanks!

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#5 RichieHunt

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:35 PM

View Posthayzooos, on 19 February 2013 - 06:18 PM, said:

Cool stats, thanks for putting them together. I wonder if things will change next year...will be interesting to see if they do.

Thanks for the kind words.

I doubt much changes unless they redesign the green.  I thought the hole played fantastic this past week.





RH


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#6 Fyparr

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 12:46 AM

Cool, good work.

A lot's been made of this hole, and I really enjoyed watching the coverage.  I think every course should have at least one reachable par 4 (with options) as they're always fun to watch, as well as play.

Too many pros are complaining about the 10th at Riv, and while I like Charlie Beljan, hearing his quotes about "putting a windmill out there and having us hit putts to determine a winner" was one part sour grapes, and one part truth.  Last year's finish was exceptional, this year was intense with all the guys in the hunt, but I'd rather not see next year's winner decided on the 10th.
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#7 Gutz_it

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:54 AM

Enjoyed the read mate
Thanks

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#8 jbrunone

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 07:01 AM

View PostFyparr, on 20 February 2013 - 12:46 AM, said:

Cool, good work.

A lot's been made of this hole, and I really enjoyed watching the coverage.  I think every course should have at least one reachable par 4 (with options) as they're always fun to watch, as well as play.

Too many pros are complaining about the 10th at Riv, and while I like Charlie Beljan, hearing his quotes about "putting a windmill out there and having us hit putts to determine a winner" was one part sour grapes, and one part truth.  Last year's finish was exceptional, this year was intense with all the guys in the hunt, but I'd rather not see next year's winner decided on the 10th.

It is a par 4, its suppose to average 4 shots per golfer. Its a fantastic hole

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#9 BUD11HR

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:12 AM

Great analysis of that stats

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#10 RichieHunt

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 08:23 AM

If Beljan had made the right decision off the tee with regards to the pin location, he would likely not have to worry about putting thru a windmill.  I like Beljan, but it wasn't like he hit perfect drives on #10 on Sunday.  He hit some fairly large pulls and missed pretty badly to the left.  When you miss badly to the left (or badly to the right), your odds of hitting the green are supposed to be small.  Lastly, the first putt he had in the playoff was from something like 60-70 feet.  It's going to be like 'putting thru a windmill' from that distance, regardless of the hole you're playing on.  And he still hit a good first putt, he just couldn't make a 4-footer coming back.






RH


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#11 hayzooos

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:18 AM

View PostRichieHunt, on 20 February 2013 - 08:23 AM, said:

If Beljan had made the right decision off the tee with regards to the pin location, he would likely not have to worry about putting thru a windmill.  I like Beljan, but it wasn't like he hit perfect drives on #10 on Sunday.  He hit some fairly large pulls and missed pretty badly to the left.  When you miss badly to the left (or badly to the right), your odds of hitting the green are supposed to be small.  Lastly, the first putt he had in the playoff was from something like 60-70 feet.  It's going to be like 'putting thru a windmill' from that distance, regardless of the hole you're playing on.  And he still hit a good first putt, he just couldn't make a 4-footer coming back.






RH

Well said and sometimes the truth hurts.
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