Using Strokes Gained: Putting To Determine Fed Ex Cup Cut

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As the Fed Ex Cup enters the final two phases of the playoffs, players are as bunched up as any year I can remember. Any player inside the top 5 can take over the top spot with a win this week.

For the players at the back end of the rankings, allow me to put their situation in it's proper perspective. George McNeill, ranked in the final spot needs to target a second place finish this week just to advance to East Lake for the Tour Championship. However, if he were to win the tournament, he could move all the way up to 6th. The rankings are fluid, so it is difficult to give exact numbers because they depend on how all the other players finish.

With the rankings so close, it becomes increasingly difficult to project how players will fare, especially with so much money on the line. There is one golden rule to follow when the difference between players seems negligible, always default to putting.

As good as Jason Day is, he didn't break through and win a major until his putting went from "very good" to "world class". Dustin Johnson is without a doubt the most physically talented golfer in the world (maybe ever), yet as good as he is, he has not won a major because his putter routinely lets him down on the weekend. Zach Johnson and Jordan Speith won four majors before Day and Johnson won one, and it was on the strength of being able to count on their putter in pressure situations.

Putting affects so many other areas of the game. For instance, confidence in mid-range putting often dictates whether a player will try and go after a pin that is tucked on one side of the green. The best putters have that confidence, aim for the middle of the green and make par their worst score. Those that don't, go after the pin and can end up short siding themselves with a tough chip that brings bogey (or worse) into play.

It is not hard to imagine a scenario next week where one shot decides the players who will move on to the Tour Championship. That one shot will come down to either a missed putt or a made putt.

Listed below you will find the players ranked from 26-50th. These are the players that will most likely see the biggest turnover from inside/outside the top 30. The last column is Strokes Gained: Putting. It is interesting to note that the six players on this list with wins, generally have less top 10's compared to the others on this list. With the exception of of Troy Merritt, the rest of the winners all rank outside the top 70 in SG:Putting. Without looking at stats, I know they are all extraordinary ball-strikers but you can see that only gets you so far. Daniel Summerhays and Brendon Todd have no wins, and only nine combined top 10's...however they both rank inside the top 10 in SG:Putting, which leads to a high percentage of cuts made and frequent top 25's. Pat Perez and Brian Harman only have five combined top 10's, yet here they are, in relatively the same position after two Fed Ex Cup events.

Out of the players on this list, who do you see making it to East Lake and the Tour Championship? Do any of these players have an outside chance of pulling a Billy Horschel, and winning the Fed Ex Cup Event?

FEX_Rank Name Wins Top 10's SG: Putting
26 Daniel Summerhays 5 6
27 Bill Haas 1 5 140
28 Jason Bohn 6 27
29 Russell Knox 3 115
30 Louis Oosthuizen 6 147
31 David Lingmerth 1 4 91
32 Harris English 3 14
33 Matt Jones 4 24
34 Kevin Na 6 62
35 Justin Thomas 7 100
36 Gary Woodland 4 85
37 Chris Kirk 1 3 71
38 Sean O'Hair 3 55
39 Ryan Moore 1 4 74
40 Ryan Palmer 5 68
41 Tony Finau 5 122
42 Webb Simpson 5 174
43 Pat Perez 2 39
44 Scott Piercy 1 4 112
45 Shawn Stefani 3 87
46 Daniel Berger 5 148
47 Troy Merritt 1 3 20
48 Brendon Todd 4 9
49 Brendon de Jonge 3 110
50 Brian Harman 3 44
5 years ago

When playing DFS what putting stats do you look at? Are putting stats the most important stat you look at when deciding between two players or are there others more important?

5 years ago

Generally speaking, I allow the course to dictate what the relevant stats are for a particular week. I wrote an article outlining a basic process that can be used for course research.

You can read it here:

Here is an excerpt though...

""Each week, when I sit down to start my DFS golf research, I begin by studying the course. By now, I am very familiar with many of the courses that host PGA tour events, either by past research, or in some lucky cases, by playing the course themselves. My first instinct is to look at total length, but I've come to understand that in many cases it provides incomplete information. What you really want to know, is what the average length of each different par 3,4,5 is, and to get even more granular, what is the average length if you remove the longest par 5 and par 3, and the two longest par 4's. This piece of information is the difference between starting a guy who averages 310 off the tee, or the guy who is #1 on tour in proximity to hole, but only drives it 290""

Putting will always be relevant, so it just comes down to how much weight it will hold from week to week.

There are several putting stats that can be used regardless of where the tournament is being played.

"Strokes Gained: Putting" is the most useful in terms of player comparison, as it normalizes putts between players. Each time a player putts (on the green), it will record the result and then compare it to other putts of the same length and location (green quadrant).

Additionally, I use; "3 Putt Avoidance", "Birdie or Better Conversion %", "One Putt %" and "Total Putting"

"Total Putting" is a great stat to get a complete picture of how well a player is putting. Below is a summary of the process and calculation for "Total Putting".

Total Putting is computed using 6 putting stats Putting from 3-5', Putting from 5-10', Putting from 10-15', Putting from 15-20', Putting from 20-25' and Three Putt Avoidance from > 25'. Each statistic is given a numerical weighting based on the frequency of putts attempted from each distance. The players rank in each of the statistics used is multiplied by the corresponding weigh factor, totalled, and divided by the number of statistics used to produce the Total Putting Value. (2428)


5 years ago
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