It usually takes a lot of birdies to win a PGA Tour event. At the team-event Zurich Classic of New Orleans, however, it takes a lot of birdies. Last year the winning tandem of Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith put up 23 of them along with a pair of eagles for good measure. As the tour returns to New Orleans this week, we take a look at the birdie average leaders on tour this season and the putters they use. Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson are ranked second and third, respectively, but since they’re not in the field this week were focusing on those on who are.
4.84 birdies per round
When you’re making nearly five birdies per round, you’re doing something right on the greens. In addition to leading the PGA Tour in birdie average, Rahm currently ranks a very respectable 29th in strokes gained/putting with his TaylorMade Spider Tour. According to TaylorMade, Rahm will frequently stop in its putter lab to make sure his alignment with the club is spot on. The results would indicate that is time well spent.
4.57 birdies per round
Rose is even more proficient than Rahm on the greens, ranking 10th in strokes gained/putting along with ranking fourth on tour in birdie average. Rose uses a TaylorMade TP Ardmore 2 Red mallet—a putter he switched to the week he won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China last fall. The Ardmore 2 has wings in back that add stability to the club while the face boasts the company’s Pure Roll insert in which the grooves are at a 45-degree angle to help promote a better roll.
4.50 birdies per round
When Justin Thomas spoke with Golf Digest in 2016 he said, “I still believe in the old saying of drive for show, putt for dough. It will always be true. Given a choice of 15 more yards or making another 30-footer every round, I'll take making the putt. Dude, that's four shots a week.” Those words seem to be working for the reigning FedEx Cup champ, who is tied for fifth in birdie average using a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X5 that actually was the impetus for the 5.5 model. The putter was conceived as the result of a visit to Cameron’s putter studio from Justin Thomas, who was seeking alternatives to his Cameron blade. “He wanted a smaller mallet that he could align easily, but one that also promoted the arced putting stroke he preferred,” said Cameron. The result was taking a Futura X5 Tour head and welding a flare neck to it.
4.50 birdies per round
If you’re not a fan of all the red putters on tour, blame Jason Day. Back in October of 2015 Day asked TaylorMade to add a touch of red to his putter and the company obliged, but it was more of a sports car red. Day asked to see some other options and 15 iterations later, the crimson-red Spider Tour was born. Although Day has, at times, switched out to another putter, he always comes back to this one and it is currently in the bag.
4.42 birdies per round
Perez ranks seventh in birdie average, aided in no small part by making 27 of them over 72 holes at the CIMB Classic last fall. Perez wields a PXG Gunboat mallet, an extremely high moment of inertia mallet-style putter with a single-bend shaft that creates a full-shaft of offset and a face-balanced hang angle with weights that can bring the putter to 400 grams.