Ways to Win with PAR Golf
This is typically where I'd use the stats and analytics of PAR Golf to show you how the latest PGA Tour winner closed out this week's tournament. However, despite this being the first blog on the topic... Collin Morikawa's meltdown is much more interesting and relatable for most of us. I'm breaking the mold before I even start and will focus on what happens even to a pro's game when they have an off day.
After 3 rounds, Collin Morikawa was sitting in pole position with his hard work giving him a 7 shot cushion on eventual winner Jon Rahm... but then... golf happened. Kapalua is typically a birdie-fest and glancing at the scorecard in the 4th round summary from the PAR Golf app Collin was well on his way through 6 holes only to stumble shooting 2 over on the remaining holes.
What went wrong? Using PAR Golf's strokes gained analysis shows that Collin gained strokes on an average PGA Tour pro for both Driving and Approach shots even on an off day. However, Morikawa gave up 1.7 strokes for short game and another stroke putting. Collin has been working hard in these areas and over the first 3 days showed significant progress, out-performing his typical level of play only to come undone under pressure. Pressure tends to expose the weakest part of our games and while improving, it would seem there is more work to be done to continue to solidify the weaker parts of his game.
The above Strokes Gained Bars chart shows Collin's progression from round 1 on the left to the final round on the right for each category of Strokes Gained. Collin is known for his excellent ball striking and the stronger parts of his game held up even on tougher days. It is the red and yellow portion of the bars representing Putting and Short Game respectively that clearly took a dip on the final day.
The line plot is another way to visualize the same story with the weaker parts of Collin's game letting him down on the last day. The good news for Collin, is the work that he has put in clearly showed up in the first three days, separating himself from the field. If he can continue to build on the good, he will win several times this year.
So let's dive into what happened. Using PAR Golf, how did he give away shots on the final day. One of my favorite tools is to go to the round history and pull up the shot table for the round in question. By tapping on the column header for sg2pro (strokes gained to a tour pro) we can sort shots by quality in ascending order. This puts Collin's worst shots of round 4 on top of the table so that we can diagnose what happened.
Right off the top, Morikawa had 8 shots in this one round that cost him a half stroke or more to the field. Of those shots, 4 were short game shots (wedges) and 4 were putts with most of them coming between holes 9 and 16 where the tournament slipped away. These 8 shots alone cost Morikawa a total of 5.84 shots to the field and were more than enough to allow Rahm to sneak up from behind.
Morikawa's missed putts inside 10 feet were particularly painful considering how beautiful he had putted just the day prior gaining 3.5 strokes on the field with just his putter. PAR Golf allows you to quickly look your make percentages by distance from the hole to evaluate where to spend your practice time. I imagine Collin will be spending more time on putts between 6 and 10 feet.
Briefly diving into short game... Collin just didn't hit it close enough to take the pressure off his putter when he had short game chances. The Short Game summary for the final round shows that his 7 scrambling opportunities left a proximity average of 29 feet. Even pros don't make many 29 footers. Part of that is driven by the one outlier from the sand where he bladed the shot well over the green and struggled again to get up and down.
Morikawa is a phenomenal player that I imagine will take more good than bad from this week's work. While the finish is disappointing, his hard work is paying dividends around the greens and with a little more practice should be able to hold up to the pressures of closing out the tournament as he has already shown he is capable in his young career. In the end, pros are just like us... with strengths and weaknesses. Turn your weaknesses into strengths with advanced analytics from a PAR Golf subscription. Time to evaluate your golf performance and generate focused practice to improve faster. The plots and analysis shown above require a 'Perform' subscription in the PAR Golf app.
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