What a difference a week can make when it comes to golfing performance. One week, you’re struggling – the next, you’re The Champion Golfer of the Year. How does that happen?
Can’t buy a putt
At the Scottish Open, the traditional preparation and jet lag cure for The Open championship, I think even Collin Morikawa would admit that he wasn’t at his best with his T71 finish, his worst pro tournament result. He struggled a bit, and from I witnessed, it was mostly on the greens. In the Sunday round it felt like he just couldn’t buy a putt. Few would get close and mainly his putting speed appeared to be the issue. Even the galleries had sympathy, cheering when he eventually managed to hole one on the first time of asking. But he was in links golf learning mode, and he obviously learned a lot and quickly.
He’s good. Very Good
Morikawa is a brilliant, young newcomer to the tour, having graduated from the University of California-Berkeley in 2019 and already notched up 5 wins from 51 events and banked $14m. Two Majors wins on his debut! He’s good. Very good. But how did he turn around a T71 finish at the Scottish Open to getting his name on the Claret Jug?
Statistics – the clues are there
Since we launched our July 2021 Golf Survey I’ve been paying lots of attention to golfing stats for male and female tour pros. And while statistics can have wide interpretation, Morikawa’s PGA Tour stats give a hint at why he had a performance uplift and why all improvement minded golfers should start recording more data. Let’s take a look at the numbers from the published PGA Tour Stats from July 24th.
Let’s start with getting off the tee. Collin is #13 in driving accuracy, but at The Open, he was T39 in the field. So he missed a few fairways off the tee which can be punishing on a links course. Then again, he recovered from the rough very well.
Getting up and down from sand
Links courses have some of the most frightening bunkers in golf. He is 64th in the Sand Save stat overall, but for The Open he was tied 1st. Clearly the ability to get up and down from a deep sandy hole in the ground is going to help. I must do more bunker practice.
Greens in Regulation
We all strive to get onto the green for our two putts. Morikawa is #1 overall this year to date which just shows how great he is with an iron. He did switch to new irons at The Open but still managed to be T5 for GIR, so he’s maintaining consistency and getting to 4th in proximity to the hole from the fairway. If only someone would give me some new irons.
One putt average
Morikawa is ranked 103rd on this stat, but at The Open he was T4. Getting up the chart on this stat is always going to be helped by how close to the hole you can hit it off the fairway or par 3 tee box, but going from 103 to T4 is an outstanding improvement. Even Morikawa acknowledged that this was a key improvement for putts inside 10 feet and a massive change from his struggles at The Renaissance a week earlier.
Ups and downs
We all know that golf is a complex game with so many variables, but when you measure and record them, you can start to understand where you can improve and do something it. Having done the review of his stats and watched his performance, Morikawa did something pretty special to win The Open. He learned from the week before, managed to maintain consistency in his obvious tournament winning strengths, and at the same time improve his relative weakness – his putting – during one of the hardest tests in golf. Having said that, I’ll take a 103rd one putt average any time you like.
How often do we raise one aspect of our game only let the others slide? My putting has seen some great improvement of late, but my driving? Let’s just say it’s expensive on golf balls and I’m working on a DriveBANDIT prototype next week.
If you’ve recently had a significant improvement in your game, let us know in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to know how you did it.
Paul Hart is a founding director of PuttBANDIT Ltd, co-inventor of the PuttBANDIT Ball Marker and enthusiastic improver.
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