In our weekly dissection of PGA TOUR winners, we usually see that the victor is dominant in at least one statistical category or is ranked in the top ten in two or more statistical categories. Before looking at the numbers Tiger Woods put up at Torrey Pines, a little recent history for new readers is in order.
By way of review, recall that Dustin Johnson in his season opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions victory (read it here) put up the following statistics:
--ranked 2nd in Driving Distance;
--ranked 2nd in Greens in Regulation;
--ranked 9th in Ball Striking;
--ranked 2nd in Total Putting;
--ranked 3rd in Putting Average;
--ranked 2nd in Birdie or Better Conversion Percentage;
--ranked 6th in Strokes Gained-Putting.
In the second event of the year,TOUR rookie Russell Henley captured the Sony Open in Hawaii (read it here) as he put up the following numbers:
--ranked T8th in Driving Accuracy;
--ranked 2nd in Greens in Regulation;
--ranked T4th in Scrambling;
--ranked 1st Strokes Gained-Putting.
The Tour moved to California and Brian Gay captured the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (read it here) as he put up these numbers:
--ranked 2nd in Driving Accuracy;
--ranked T4th in Greens in Regulation;
--ranked 4th in Scrambling.
Let's turn to Tiger's stats in the Farmers.
Driving Distance: Woods ranked 2nd at 307.3 yards. The leader for the tournament was Robert Garrigus at 310.3 yards. Garrigus finished 6th.
Driving Accuracy: Woods ranked T17th as he hit 57.14% of his fairways. For the most part though, until he had some difficulties in the final round, Woods was just fine off the tee. The leader for the tournament was Bryce Molder at 78.57%. Molder finished T68th. Interesting sidenote: Molder led in Strokes Gained-Putting at the Humana Challenge.
Greens In Regulation: Woods ranked T34th as he hit 69.44% of his greens. Charles Howell III was ranked 1st at 79.17%; Howell finished T9th.
Proximity to Hole: Woods ranked T49th at 38'0". Brandt Snedeker,winner at the Farmers last year, was ranked 1st at 30'0". Snedeker finished T2nd.
Scrambling: In the 2012 season, Woods was ranked 4th overall in Scrambling which was a huge improvement from his 2011 rank of 141st. In the Farmers, Woods was ranked 42nd as he saved par or better 59.09% of the time after missing the green in regulation. The leaders were Snedeker and Nick Watney at 77.78%. Watney finished T4th.
Strokes Gained-Putting: Woods ranked 28th in at .689 strokes gained per round. Josh Teater, who finished T2nd, was ranked 1st at 2.736 strokes per round.
Woods was able to win at Torrey Pines even though he was ranked in the top ten in only one category--Driving Distance. So, how did he win?
One answer is his performance on par 5's
From 1997-2009, and not counting 2008 because he missed much of the year with injury, Woods dominated on the par 5's. He was ranked either first or second in every one of those years in the category Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders.
Though it is early in the season and he has only four official rounds for statistical purposes, Woods managed birdie or better on eleven of the sixteen par 5 holes he played at Torrey Pines which included an eagle in each of the first two rounds. His 68.75% Par 5 Birdie or Better Percentage at the Farmers is a reminder of his dominant form of his past glory days. And while a 68.75% in such statistic is not realistic to maintain over a full season---his best season was 61.89% in 2000--would it surprise anyone if he was once again in the top two or three by the end of the year?
Here is another thought to ponder: In 2012, a decent year with three wins, Woods had only four eagles on the entire year (all holes--not just par5's) and ranked T132nd. He now has half that many eagles after just one tournament.
A few final thoughts:
--Woods wins at Torrey Pines because he knows the course better than any other player and his record there proves it. Eight times in his career, including the 91 hole victory in the U.S. Open in 2008, Woods has left Torrey Pines with the trophy in his trunk and the winner's check in his wallet.
--Woods has won 75 of 280 official events on the PGA TOUR that he has started.
--Woods is now within seven victories of the all time career victory mark of 82 set by Sam Snead.