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Stats

A former belly putter has the longest current streak without a three-putt on the PGA Tour

This week in "Reasons why the anchoring ban shouldn't cause pro golfers to give up their day jobs just yet" focuses on Brendan Steele. The 31-year-old former belly putter only ranks 112th in strokes gained/putting so far in the 2014-15 season, but he's a solid 30th in the FedEx Cup standings and he hasn't missed a cut in seven starts.

Related: The anchoring ban doesn't seem to be hurting tour pros yet

It also helps that he hasn't three-putted yet this year. No, really.

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Steele currently holds the longest streak without a three-putt on the PGA Tour at 243 holes. It's a streak that goes back to the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November. And despite his below average strokes gained/putting, Steele ranks a solid 27th from four to eight feet (76 percent) and is a perfect 223 out of 223 on putts from inside of three feet.

Related: Davis Love's Ryder Cup do-over and Rickie gets romantic

Not bad for someone who switched to a "regular" stroke less than eight months ago to get a jump on the anchoring ban, which goes into effect in 2016. Well, regular if you don't count using a funky claw grip against him.

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Stats

7 numbers that tell just how great Billy Casper was

Billy Casper died on Saturday, rightfully setting off a series of tributes to a great champion and person. Stringing all those stories together was the sentiment that Casper was underrated as a golfer. At some point, though, unanimously being considered underrated makes someone pretty highly rated, right? No matter what the perception, Casper was a golfing giant any way you look at his numbers. Here are seven stats that stand out:

51: Casper's career total of PGA Tour titles has been surpassed by only six golfers. And if you're waiting for another active player to catch him, don't hold your breath. Phil Mickelson is by far the closest with 42 wins, but Phil getting 10 more at this point in his career seems like a stretch. Next on the list of active full-time players on the PGA Tour is Ernie Els with 19.

Related: A look back at Casper's career in pictures

3: Three of Casper's 51 PGA Tour wins were majors championships. Only 13 golfers have won more majors since Casper won his first at the 1959 U.S. Open. Casper would also win the 1966 U.S. Open and the 1970 Masters. That total could have been higher, but he finished runner-up at the PGA Championship three times and only played in the British Open five times, including a fourth-place finish in 1968.

8: Casper played on eight straight U.S. Ryder Cup teams beginning in 1961. In 1979, he served as the team's captain. Phil Mickelson, who played in a ninth consecutive Ryder Cup in 2014, has accomplished that feat. Unlike during Mickelson's era, the U.S. was undefeated in the nine times Casper competed in this event.

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23.5: Casper wasn't just along for the ride during that dominant stretch by the U.S. His 23.5 points are the most all time by an American.

Related: Jaime Diaz on why Billy Casper was an underappreciated genius

5: Casper won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour five times. Only Tiger Woods (nine times) has won the award more.

16: Casper won at least one PGA Tour event in 16 consecutive years. Only Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (both 17 years) have longer streaks.

9.2: Casper's career winning percentage on the PGA Tour. Only two golfers who started their careers after 1950 (Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus) have won at a higher rate.

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News & Tours

You probably didn't notice: Amateur Jon Rahm's T-5 at TPC Scottsdale puts him in rare company

Jon Rahm isn't on the PGA Tour yet, but he already has one of golf's great nicknames. And now he also has one of the best performances by an amateur in recent tour history.

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Rahm, aka "Rahmbo" -- a name he sported on the back of an Arizona State football jersey he wore on TPC Scottsdale's 16th hole on Saturday -- finished T-5 at the Waste Management Open in just his second tour start. The 20-year-old Sun Devil became the first amateur since Chris Wood at the 2008 British Open to finish T-5 in a PGA Tour event and just the second amateur to accomplish a top five since Justin Rose's T-4 at the 1998 British Open.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch in 2015

Rahm, who was playing on a sponsor's exemption, won't take home the check for $239,400 and he doesn't get into next week's field because of his amateur status. Of course, he didn't let those details spoil his mood.

"It means a lot," Rahm said. "It means that I proved to myself that I can be out here. I can be here and compete with the best and, you know, try to be the best."

Arizona State golfers have a history of performing well in state on the PGA Tour. In 1991, a 20-year-old Phil Mickelson won the former Northern Telecom Open in Tucson during his junior year. No amateur golfer has won on the PGA Tour since.

Rahm, a junior from Barrika, Spain, has four career collegiate wins and captured the 2014 World Amateur, breaking Jack Nicklaus' tournament scoring record in the process. He said "unless something really special happens," he won't turn pro until after college.

Perhaps, a T-5 in a PGA Tour event as an amateur isn't "really special," but it's pretty close.

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Gear & Equipment

Chances are you don't hit your clubs quite as far as you say you do

We all know recreational golfers who, out of ego or ignorance, embellish their skills on occasion. (OK, maybe more like on regular occasion.) Save for a purposeful eye roll, it's difficult to challenge them given a lack of objective data.

Enter GAME Golf, which debuted its stat-tracking/GPS technology in 2013, creating sensors that golfers attach to their clubs that help calculate the true distances they hit the ball with each one. The company markets its device as a way for golfers to "be right" with their club selection by knowing how far they really hit their woods, irons and wedges, improving their course management.

In 2014, GAME Golf users played more than 170,000 rounds. At the end of the year the company aggregated these statistics to offers a look at how "skillful" regular golfers actually are. Not surprisingly it varies greatly, depending on skill level.

For instance, take GAME Golf users who shot average scores between 75-80. Breaking down topline stats from these golfers, the company found their average driving distance of 235 yards, found the fairway off the tee 51 percent of the time and hit 52 percent of their greens in regulation.

For golfers who averaged scores between 90-95, their stats aren't quite as solid. These players had an average driving distance of just 196 yards. Their fairways hit number was lower, but not drastically so, down to 43 percent. But where their significant difference was in ball-striking as their GIR mark was just 23 percent.

By basis of comparison, Graeme McDowell, a GAME Golf endorser uploaded, used the technology to track his game. Based on rounds he uploaded, McDowell averaged 270 yards off the tee, hit 77 percent of fairways and 72 percent of greens in regulation.

Meanwhile, using ShotLink data for the entire PGA Tour in 2013-14, the average drive on tour last season was 281.6 yards, the average fairways hit for players was 61.3 percent and the average GIR was 64.08 percent.



GAME Golf GAME Golf PGA Tour pros

75-80 shooters 90-95 shooters ShotLink stats
Average driving distance 235 yards
196 yards
281.6 yards
Fairways hit 51%
43% 61.3%
Greens In Regulation 52% 23% 64.08%


So, the next time the 15-handicapper in your foursome boasts about the 260 yards he averages off the tee, feel free to give him more than an eye roll.

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.

 

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Stats

Is Bill Haas the best player never to contend at a major?

With his second Humana Challenge victory, Bill Haas picked up his sixth career PGA Tour title. That number is nothing to sneeze at -- especially in this era where professional golf is more global and deep than ever -- but it prompts two questions: Why hasn't Bill Haas done more in majors? And is he the best player never to have contended in a major?

Haas has come to this win total and $21.5 million in earnings (NOT including a $10 million FedEx Cup bonus) before turning 33. That means he could just be entering the prime of his career, but still, his results in golf's four biggest events are puzzling.

Related: The 11 best golfers without a major championship

Haas has played in 21 major championships and has never finished in the top 10. The closest he's ever come to contending was holding the 18-hole lead at the 2014 Masters. He shot 78 on Friday, though, and wound up T-20. Only twice in those 21 starts has Haas bettered that performance with a T-12 at the 2011 PGA Championship and a T-19 at the 2012 British Open.

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Haas actually has plenty of company when it comes to his ratio of tour titles to major titles. He's the 80th golfer to have six or more wins without a major and he's not even close to Harry Cooper's record of 31 victories without a major. But Haas' history is unusual because unlike Cooper and the overwhelming majority of those 79 other players, Haas has never come close to even contending at a major, let alone winning one.

Of the 80 players on that list, only four never finished in the top five at a major championship: Joey Sindelar, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Willie Klein, and Wayne Levi. Only one of those other golfers also never once finished in the top 10: Levi.

In fact, Levi is the gold standard for unusual track records in major championships. He had twice as many wins (12) as Haas currently does and even won the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award in 1990. Yet his best finish in a major was a T-11 at the 1984 Masters and he only had four top 25s in 33 major starts.

More typical is someone like Bill's dad, Jay. The nine-time PGA Tour winner never won a major, but he had T-3s at the 1995 Masters and 1999 PGA Championship, as well as a T-4 at the 1995 U.S. Open. "I think he deserved a major in his career as good as he played," Bill said of his dad in 2014. 

But so far, Bill, hasn't followed in his father's footsteps when it comes to those close calls -- which is probably why his name never seems to come up in the "Who is the best player without a major?" debate despite the fact Haas has played on the last two U.S. Presidents Cup teams and has as many PGA Tour titles as Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood combined. Unlike those guys, Haas has never been higher than No. 12 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Related: Lee Westwood saves a man from drowning in Barbados

Of course, some might argue that winning the Tour Championship and claiming the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus like Haas did in 2011 is a major in its own right. But until he at least shows up on a final-round leader board at one of golf's four biggest tournaments, we're going to continue to wonder why.

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Stats

9 numbers that sum up Jordan Spieth's incredible two-week stretch of golf

No, neither were official PGA Tour events, but what Jordan Spieth has done versus some elite competition the past two weeks is remarkable. His back-to-back wins now give him three official worldwide victories as a pro and make him the unofficial hottest golfer in the world entering 2015. Here's a look back at some of the numbers that define his recent torrid stretch:

10: Number of strokes Spieth won by at the Hero World Challenge, breaking Tiger Woods' tournament record. His 262 total for the week broke another record held by Woods (and Davis Love III).

Related: A frame-by-frame look at Spieth's swing

26: Speaking of beating Woods, this is how many shots Spieth beat the host of the Hero World Challenge by on his former home course. That's not nice.

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16: Combined number of strokes Spieth has won by in consecutive starts. With all his dominant performances, Woods has accomplished that feat just twice in his career.

63: What Spieth shot in the final round at the Australian Open, the lowest round of the day by four shots. Rory McIlroy said after he wouldn't have been able to shoot 63 on that course in those conditions if he was given 100 tries.

34: Amount under par Spieth is in his last five rounds.

9: Spieth's Official World Golf Ranking -- up from No. 14 two weeks ago.

9,000ish: Number of miles Spieth flew from Australia to Florida. Plus, he flew from Japan to Australia the week before. Apparently, Spieth is impervious to travel.

Related: Golf's all-time biggest phenoms

16/1: Spieth's updated odds to win the 2015 Masters. He is currently the fourth favorite behind Rory McIlroy (9/2), Tiger Woods (10/1), and Adam Scott (14/1).

21: Spieth's age. And he doesn't turn 22 until next summer. Who knows what other numbers will define his meteoric career by then.

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Stats

Rory McIlroy had ONE bad week the entire 2013-14 golf season and it wasn't even all his fault

Rory McIlroy has always been labeled a streaky golfer. The difference now is that instead of alternating between good and bad performances he only seems to fluctuate between good and great.

McIlroy, 25, wrapped up his season on the European Tour with a T-2 at the DP World Tour Championship. He had already sewed up the season-long Race to Dubai title and $1.25 million bonus without even playing in the tour's first three playoff events.

Related: Rory and Tiger's similar career paths

Two months ago, the World No. 1 finished an even more impressive campaign on the PGA Tour. McIlroy was nipped in the FedEx Cup Playoffs by a red-hot Billy Horschel, but his $8.2 million in non-bonus earnings led the tour.

Aside from the money, though, McIlroy's results on the world's two biggest tours in 2014 stood out for their remarkable consistency. McIlroy may not have been sharp in every round -- his Day 2 struggles were well documented -- but he really struggled just once the entire season.

Related: Golf's all-time greatest seasons

McIlroy shot 74-69 to miss the cut at the Irish Open and even that performance came with a built-in excuse. McIlroy was jet-lagged from flying to Ireland from the previous week's U.S. Open and his clubs didn't show up until Wednesday after the airline lost them for a couple of days.

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That's it. One bad week. And it wasn't even that bad. And it wasn't even all his fault.

Overall, McIlroy played in 24 events. He finished in the top 25 in every tournament other than the Irish Open and racked up 17 top 10s and four wins, including two major championships and the Euro Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA. Isolating his PGA Tour performance, McIlroy finished in the top 25 in all 17 starts and in the top 10 on 12 of those occasions.

Placing McIlroy's 2014 among golf's all-time great seasons isn't a stretch when you consider that kind of consistency. Of course, it's not quite Tiger Woods' 2000 campaign (nine wins, three majors, 22 of 22 top 25s and 19 of 22 top 10s), but what is?

Related: The best and worst of golf's majors in 2014

In contrast, McIlroy had 27 top 10s and 38 top 25s in 70 career PGA Tour starts entering this season. The weeks in which he's on his game have always impressed, but now his ability to play solid golf even when he's off has brought him to another level.

Wherever McIlroy makes his PGA Tour return in 2015, he'll arrive with 17 straight top 25s, having won two straight majors, and having had one straight all-time great seasons. How's that for streaky?

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News & Tours

Step aside Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia is the PGA Tour's new king of runner-ups

Jim Furyk's flurry of near-misses was one of the biggest storylines of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. But another player has closed the gap when it comes to close calls.

Related: Jim Furyk is really, REALLY good at finishing runner-up

With a T-2 at the CIMB Classic, Sergio Garcia now has four runner-ups in his past eight PGA Tour events. Three of those came in consecutive fashion when after a close call at the Travelers Championship in June, Garcia ran into the Rory McIlroy buzz saw at the British Open and the Bridgestone Invitational.

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Furyk had four runner-ups in 2013-14, but they came over a span of 13 tournaments. Garcia also had two third-place finishes, three fourths and 10 top 10s (in just 16 events) during the 2013-14 season, which helps to explain why he finished second on the tour in scoring average and earned a career-best $4.9 million.

Garcia's career numbers in this area are also starting to resemble Furyk's. Since winning the 2005 Booz Allen Classic, Garcia has just two PGA Tour titles (the 2008 Players and 2012 Wyndham Championship), but nine runner-ups. He also has three third-place finishes in that span.

Furyk has seven second-place finishes since his last win at the 2010 Tour Championship. Garcia, who is 10 years younger than Furyk, has a way to go to match his 29 career runner-ups, but his winning percentage in top-two finishes is nearly identical. Furyk's 16 victories means he only wins 36 percent of the time he finishes in the top two. Garcia, meanwhile is just slightly better at 38 percent.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch out for in 2014-15

Garcia's recent 50-percent rate of finishing runner-up is rare, but it's not unprecedented. Ernie Els also pulled off the feat in 2000 during an eight-tournament stretch that second-place finishes at the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and Memorial. You may recall Tiger Woods, who topped Els in three of those events, had a slightly better season. Els also added a fifth runner-up of the year in the season-opener at Kapalua. Again, Tiger.

On the bright side, following his run of runner-ups, Els won his next start at The International. Perhaps, it's Garcia's turn to do the same at this week's WGC-HSBC Champions.

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News & Tours

You probably didn't notice: Robert Streb had an incredible week of putting

If you watched Robert Streb win the McGladrey Classic, you probably wondered to yourself, 'Why hasn't this guy won on the PGA Tour before?' The simple answer is he's never putted like that.

Related: See what clubs Streb used to win

Streb made 62 of 66 putts from inside 10 feet at Sea Island for the week and was perfect from five feet and in. He tied for the fewest putts (113) in the field and finished T-2 in strokes gained/putting at 1.691.

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Those numbers were well up from what we've seen from Streb, 27, in his first two seasons on tour, when he ranked 101st and 75th in strokes gained/putting. He made his biggest strides with shorter putts this week after being ranked T-145 last season from inside of 10 feet.

On Sunday, Streb converted six birdie putts of five feet or less (yes, his ball-striking was also pretty good) during a final-round 63. He made 10 birdies overall in 20 holes, including a four-footer for the win on the second playoff hole to top Brendon de Jonge and complete a five-shot comeback from the start of the round.

Streb was the FedEx Cup bubble boy (No. 126) in his rookie season in 2013, but he used his conditional status in 2013-14 to make 21 starts and earn $1.3 million to earn full playing privileges in 2014-15. His first win in his 49th career start gives him a two-year exemption on tour.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch in 2014-15

In his PGA Tour media-guide profile, Streb lists going to a Texas-Oklahoma football game and playing at Augusta National as his two bucket list items. With his win Sunday, he'll be able to cross off the latter in April.

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Stats

Meet Tony Finau, the PGA Tour's newest long-driving, par-5 destroying star

From "The Big Break" to the big leagues, Tony Finau was bound to be a popular rookie on the PGA Tour this season. The fact that he's also a big hitter (it's not just "chicks" who "dig the long ball," after all) certainly doesn't hurt, either.

In the first two starts of his first PGA Tour campaign, Finau, 25, has already been turning heads with his prodigious length off the tee. He's hit drives of 374 and 373 yards and he has registered five of the 20 longest drives of the young season.

Related: Finau and 10 other PGA Tour sleepers to watch

Overall, his driving average of 321.9 puts him second right now behind Daniel Berger (Bubba Watson led the tour with a 314.3 average last season). Unlike Berger, though, a fellow rookie who has missed the first two cuts of the season, Finau's all-around game has been equally as impressive as his performance off the tee.

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After a T-12 in the season opener in Napa, Finau finished T-7 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open over the weekend. Not bad for someone who had only three previous tour starts, the last of which was in 2011.

Finau is 24 under through two tournaments and not surprisingly, a lot of those red numbers have come on par 5s. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound bomber is a staggering 20 under on the 28 par 5s he's played thus far.

A former high school basketball star in Utah, Finau and his younger brother, Gipper, turned pro instead of playing in college. After bouncing around on mini-tours (Gipper is currently trying to earn his Web.com Tour card), Finau finally ended up on the Web.com Tour in 2014 and finished 12th on the tour's final priority ranking to earn his PGA Tour card for 2014-15.

After earning nearly as much ($310,833) in two PGA Tour starts as he did in 27 starts on the Web.com Tour last year, Finau is off to a great start in making sure he stays where he wants.

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