When Dustin Johnson promptly withdrew from the Shell Houston Open following his first-round 80 -- which featured three doubles, two bogeys and an 8 on a par 4 -- it seemingly added more evidence to a recent theory that pros are withdrawing from tournaments more often now simply because they are playing poorly. That, at least, was the thought following Dustin's WD in Houston, and Bubba Watson's WD at Bay Hill and even Tiger Woods' WD at Honda (before the full extent of his back injury became known). Jason Sobel captured the growing notion in a recent column, reporting that one anonymous called the growing trend an "epidemic."
Related: Does Tiger Woods withdraw at an unusually high rate? There's obviously no way for us to measure what a player is thinking in the precise moment he decides to withdraw, but what we can measure is how many players actually withdrew each season -- so that's what we did. We tabulated every WD on the PGA Tour since 2007 (the FedEx Cup era) and found something interesting.
Related: Fact Check: Is Andrew Loupe really that slow? The other method is by looking at how many players have withdrawn from tournaments after hitting at least one shot. Dustin Johnson at the Shell Houston Open, who actually finished his first round, is an example of this. In the 22 events played so far in the 2013-14 season, there have been 41 of these WDs. Extrapolate that number out, and it's still falling relative to previous years. At the current rate, this season would have the fourth highest number of in-round WDs.