Every week, Numbers Game provides a stat-based look at the PGA Tour at ESPN.com/golf. Here are three key numbers to think about this weekend:
56.77: If your favorite player is having to scramble for a lot of pars this week, try not to fret -- the rest of the field should be doing the same. Last year at Harbour Town, the field hit just 56.77 percent of their greens in regulation. That number was the second-lowest on the PGA Tour in 2010; only Pebble Beach the week of the U.S. Open was more difficult (51.78 percent were hit that week).
To offer even further context, this year, 15 of the 20 events on Tour have had the field hit 60 percent or more of their greens in regulation. Last year’s winner, Jim Furyk, hit 61.1 percent of his greens in regulation here en route to victory, his lowest percentage in any of his 16 PGA Tour wins, by far.
However, the numbers say that if you miss the green (and you’re going to miss it a lot -- the average green size of 3,700 square feet makes them some of the smallest on the PGA Tour) players still have a great shot at making par. The PGA Tour has player-specific statistics for 50 events in 2010. Harbour Town was 48th out of 50 (so, third-easiest) in putting average in 2010, 44th in scrambling, and dead last in 1-putt percentage difficulty.
Those numbers speak largely to a consequence of small greens being missed by players, some relatively easy clean-up shots around the green, which in turn result in shorter putts, many for par. The key phrase for this week: up-and-down.
3: There may not be a more obvious pick to succeed this weekend than current world number three Luke Donald. Donald has finished T-3rd, T-2nd here the last two years, is 22-under-par in his past seven rounds at Harbour Town, and is coming off one of his best career finishes in a major -- a tie for fourth at Augusta National.
If you want an early front-runner for PGA Tour player of the year, Donald is probably it. He has a win in what many think is the toughest non-major to win on Tour (WGC-Accenture Match Play), four top-10 finishes in five starts, had the previously mentioned tie for fourth at the Masters, and is currently fifth on the money list. The only two-time winner on Tour this year, Mark Wilson, would beg to differ with that assessment, but when evaluating a total body of work, it’s tough to pick against Donald.
1982: To have the Heritage two weeks removed from the season’s first major championship is a bit jarring to those who follow the Tour week-in and week-out. Traditionally, a closing-hole backdrop of shoreline and that red and white lighthouse have always followed Georgia pines on the schedule. The last time this favorite Tour stop was NOT played the week after the Masters was in 1982. That was the year before last week’s Valero Texas Open winner, Brendan Steele, was born.
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