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  • Writer's pictureDallas Webster

The Tour on Tangent: Malnati tames the Snake Pit

Playing winning golf is hard. In this series, I'll use the Tangent app to go through players performance on tour and draw insights on what us mere mortals can learn.

Peter Malnati is not the first name that comes to mind when you think PGA Tour. In fact, he probably isn't in the top 100. However, the everyman has carved out a nice little career on the most elite of tours and as of Sunday, he just stamped a couple more years into his legacy.

Malnati turned pro in 2009 and age 36 has yet to play in his first Masters. Thus is the journey of a really good, but not elite player. I couldn't help but get hit in the feels watching him cry through his post round interview. Golf can be a slog. Trying to improve and trying to break through is tough. I've never reached the PGA Tour level, but I've won tournaments. That feeling of relief and accomplishment and euphoria is unmatched. It's part of why I play the game. So how did he do it?

Not the longest hitter, not the most elite of ball strikers, Malnati has to find other ways to get it done and he did exactly that to emerge from a crowded leaderboard at the famed Snake Pit at Innisbrook. It's a tough course and the scoring was held in check for much of the week with more than a half a dozen guys with a chance to win with 18 holes to go.

It all starts with hitting greens. If you want to shoot low, you have to hit greens and give yourself putts and Malnati was able to do that. He hit 48 of 72 greens or 66%, which is right at PGA Tour average.

With just an average performance in greens in regulation, Malnati was going to have to make up for that in other areas, but we'll get to that in a second. One of my favorite features of the Tangent Golf app is that not only does it tell you your GIR, but it tells you why you miss. And Malnati primarily misses due to Approach shots. We can simply tap on the Approach details from the previous graphic to dive right in. It's here that we'll see that Malnati has a slight bias towards missing short and right. Something he might want to be aware of, particularly when trouble lurks in those areas.

Malnati only hits 67% of the greens when you remove errors due to driving as shown above and this is likely an area where he needs to improve if he wants to continue to climb the world ranking points and put up more weeks like this last one.

So if his ball striking wasn't elite, how did Malnati get it done? Looking at Strokes Gained in the Tangent Player Summary, he gained the most strokes with his putter. For the week he gained an average of 2.4 strokes per day on a typical PGA Tour performance and finished the week with the 3rd best strokes gained putting.

This includes particularly clutch putts he hit on holes 12 and 17. The putt on hole 12 he literally gave up on halfway to the hole thinking he left it short. He looked to the sky in frustration as the crowed erupted when it fell into the hole... Sometimes what you think is a poor strike... works out.

Tangent compares Malnati (or your) performance to the typical performance of a PGA Tour pro, which shows he lost strokes off the tee. He is not a particularly long hitter. However, Innisbrook is a particularly tough driving course with many shorter holes that force less than driver. When you normalize his performance to the field, he gained 3.5 strokes and was the 4th best driver this week. Pretty impressive stuff.

As a golfer, it's important to know that day to day certain aspects of your game are going to vary. Parts of your games will be more steady than others. For Malnati, he was really able to lean on his putter all week, gaining strokes each of the four days. His driving was consistent, but it is definitely an area he could improve as he is 160th in Strokes Gained Off the Tee for the season. This is likely just due to lack of speed. At the elite level, you have to hit it a long way and thats an area he could improve.

For Malnati, his approach game was the least consistent for the week, gaining as much as 2.55 strokes and losing as many as 3 strokes on approach. It is likely the area that needs the most focus to eliminate those off days.

Overall it was a really impressive performance by Malnati. Pretty stoked for a guy like that to see the journey through and get his second win on tour almost 10 years after the first. The security of a playing card for 2 years and his first trip to the Masters. Good stuff, more than deserving of those tears of joy.

If you want to play your best golf and learn from your performance, download the Tangent app today and subscribe to unlock your path to better golf.

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