The Wells Fargo Championship edition of By the Numbers contains a tale of two superstars — and how Derek Ernst beat them both (and everyone else, of course). Rory Mcilroy and Phil Mickelson were a study of opposites from a stats perspective, while Ernst was impressive all around. And now without further ado: this week’s By the Numbers.
- The best putter at Quail Hollow was Phil Mickelson, as he led the field in strokes gained putting. Conversely, Rory was 69th in the field amongst players who made the cut. Through his putting, Phil gained 2.5 strokes per day on the damaged greens at Quail Hollow Club (as a multiple-time AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner, Phil has a history of putting well on bumpy greens). Rory lost a stroke a day to the field on the greens. So, in that regard, Rory was losing 3.5 shots per day to Phil.
- The trend continues when you move onto scrambling numbers: Phil finished the week tied fifth, getting up-and-down an impressive 70% of the time when he missed a green in regulation (although not the last two times he needed to on nos. 16 and 17 on Sunday). Rory, on the other hand, finished 70th amongst his fellow players, getting up-and-down a really poor 37.5% of the time. Scrambling is tied to putting, in that even if you do chip it close, you still have to make the putt, and making putts can hide some poor chipping. So it is not surprising that Rory and Phil’s scrambling and putting stats were in line.
- How on earth did Phil lose and Rory finish in the top 10? As you moved away from the greens, their stats were completely reversed. Rory was tied fourth in accuracy (which is especially impressive considering how far and how often he hits driver), while Phil and his Phrankenwood were tied for 53rd.
- It was a similar story on their approach shots: Rory led the field in greens in regulation finding the greens at a 77.8% clip. Meanwhile, Phil finished T64, hitting the greens at a 58% pace. Again, it should not be surprising that these stats lineup. Shockingly, it is easier to hit the green from the fairway, than from the rough (or tree outline, or fairway of another hole, to name a few places Phil ended up last week).
- While Phil and Rory were brilliant at half of the game and struggled with the other, Ernst was solid in all areas. He finished tied for third in greens in regulation, and when he didn’t hit the green he was T9th in scrambling. In addition, he finished 11th in strokes gained putting, and 13th in fairways hit. Basically, he hit the fairways, which allowed him to hit the greens, and when he didn’t hit the greens, he got up and down, and overall, he made a lot of putts.
Despite being a complete unknown, Ernst was able to beat Phil, Rory and the rest of the field at Quail Hollow because he brought his complete game to the tournament. Meanwhile, Phil and Rory both excelled at half of the game, but were also among the worst at the other half. And while they managed more than respectable finishes, they were unable to close the deal on Sunday.
(AP Photo/Bob Leverone)