This is the question that every final round player, except Cameron Smith, will have asked themselves last Sunday night. All those who fell short will have sat down with their teams on Monday morning, reviewed their data, drawn conclusions and started working on the corrections ready for the next tournament. So what can golfers like us learn from their numbers?

There’s no stat for luck

Winning at any level is often a game of very fine margins. A single shot. A good mindset and some good fortune with a lucky bounce, a favourable gust of wind or a run of birdies that build confidence, all make a difference. But they don’t measure ‘Luck Percentage’ on the PGA tour. The better you are, the luckier you seem to get. The real learnings come from breaking down a performance across the key skills needed to win.

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The Open numbers

So being a bit of a data nerd I compiled the key stats of the top ten finishers at last week’s Open. Unfortunately the proximity-to-hole stats were not published, so we don’t know how putting performance was impacted by approach accuracy. You can find the data on the PGA website here

Here’s a few interesting numbers that got my attention.

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Rory – so close

During the weekend it felt like the entire crowd wanted Rory to win. I did too. His game is up another level this season. But at The Open, some putts just didn’t drop. From the top 10 finishers he was 9th on total putts. Guess who has the best putting average ranking so far this season? The name is Smith.


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The other Cameron

Cameron Young had a few ups and downs with 25 birdies and 6 bogies. He’s a long hitter with good accuracy, a great all-rounder, hit 60 greens in regulation, but his 50% scrambling number must have led to some bogies. Just two less putts and it would have been a different surname on the claret jug.


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The Comeback kid?

The set of stats that really surprised me were from Bryson DeChambeau, a player who pays close attention to his data. After his wrist injury he’s not smashing it as far off the tee anymore but just look at his accuracy number – 75%, the third highest in the tournament. Just for perspective he was 46.43% at Royal St Georges and tied 33. And then look at Greens in Regulation – 91.67%, ranked 1st with Rory 2nd across the 4 rounds. So what went wrong? The numbers suggest it’s putting. He will be working hard on that for the LIV tour.


Learning by numbers

As golfers like us don’t have an army of PGA stats technicians following us around with laser GPS rangefinders, a few numbers and notes on the card and a hole-by-hole post-game review are powerful learning tools.

Video memory

For some reason I have a video memory. I can visualise and replay every shot from a past round until those images get wiped as soon as I play again. Last week I skyed a few drives, hit 4 bunkers, a lake, a burn, a nasty shank on the first and way too many 3-putts – exact number withheld for embarrassment avoidance. Weirdly, I sank a few long putts too. Next stop, the practice green with Rory and Bryson.

Putting matters – a lot

You have to be amazingly good at all aspects of the game on all surfaces to have a chance at winning on tour. But there’s one skill that makes a huge difference whether you’re a tour pro at The Open or a keen golfer in the monthly medal. When you eventually get on the green you have to be able to take less putts. When putts are at least 45% of all the shots you take, a few less will matter a lot. Ask Cameron Smith.

Putt well

PuttBANDIT | Visibly Better Putting | Paul signature

Paul Hart is a co-inventor of the PuttBANDIT ball marker and a bit of a golf data nerd

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