Statistics heading into the final round
OAKMONT, Pa. -- As the final round gets underway at Oakmont C.C. (leaders tee off in 10 minutes, at 12:20pm), I'd like to share a few interesting statistics to help assess how difficult the greens are at Oakmont C.C., and who has best mastered the course thus far.
Toughest holes: No. 1, the 437-yard par-4, ranked the toughest during the first three rounds, yielding an average of 4.7 strokes. Beyond the fact that it's a long par 4, the diabolical green is nearly impossible to hold because it runs away from the players, and quite difficult to read. (Today's back-center pin location could prove relentless.)
No. 10 is ranked the second-toughest hole, yielding 4.68 strokes. The small fairway bunkers on this hole trap a lot of tee shots, forcing players to chip out sideways and play their third shot from where their second should've been.
Longest drivers: Alexis Thompson, the 15-year-old who can't weigh more than 130 pounds, is less than one yard short of leading the field in driving distance (her average is 276.7 yards, Tamie Durdin's is 277.2). She has outdriven Brittany Lincicome, the notoriously big bomber on tour, by nearly 16 yards (!).
Most greens in regulation: This GIR stat could be the best marker of consistency, which is the real key to conquering Oakmont. Through three rounds, Suzann Pettersen has hit 81 percent of greens and Brittany Lincicome has hit 80 percent of them,. They lead the field by more than six percent. (While Lincicome isn't out of the Championship, I've already predicted that Pettersen will win.)
Putts per green: While GIR might be the best marker of consistency, putts per round could be the best indicator of who has best mastered the cruel greens of Oakmont, which have helped make the course one of the toughest in the country. Amy Yang (currently four shots behind leader Paula Creamer) has averaged 1.65 putts per green, slightly edging Creamer, who's averaged 1.67 putts.
The leader's stats: So how has Paula Creamer fared? She ranks tied for 55th in driving distance (235 yards), tied for 14th in GIR (70 percent), tied for second in putts per green (1.67 putts) and tied for fourth in birdies made (11). That kind of solid, steady play is why she's leading the U.S. Women's Open by three shots.