Stat Trivia: Which PGA Tour Player WON with Negative Strokes Gained Putting?

The answer is Rory McIlroy.  He won the 2012 BMW Championship with a -.272 Strokes Gained Putting.  It was the first leg of the playoffs, so a limited field of 72 players.  But hey, this was the best 72 players for the year-to-date AND no CUT.  To be honest, there might have been another negative winner that snuck past me, but I seriously doubt it.  Please be sure to let me know (nicely) if you discover that I am wrong.

As we know, putting is key. In fact, it is approximately 40% of the game at every skill and scoring level (see chart below).  Strokes Gained Putting was introduced on Tour in 1994.  Since then, more often than not, Tour winners are highly ranked in this important facet – often #1 in the FIELD but usually in the TOP-10.  As a statistician, I was shocked when I saw Rory’s negative Strokes Gained WIN.  So, I filed it away.

How bad was Rory’s putting?  

Rory won by two strokes over Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood.  His putting was ranked #45 @ -.272, giving up just over one stroke to the FIELD for the event.  Most costly, Rory had TWO 3-Putts from 20 and 35 feet. These are reasonably close ranges by Tour standards. For Strokes Gained purposes, 35 feet is the Tour’s 2-Putt distance so that 3-Jack cost him one stroke while the 20 footer about 1.13 strokes.

How did he overcome his putting shortfall?

Simple, he was dominant against the FIELD in every other aspect of the game. Rory was ranked #1, or +2.58 in Approach the Green and #4, or +1.07 Off the Tee.  Most importantly, Rory was ranked #1, +3.81 in Tee to Green (this measures everything except Putting). To top it off, Rory chipped in TWICE.  Those two strokes of genius alone offset his two measly 3-Putts.  Well done, Rory!

For a Complete Strokes Gained Analysis of Your Game, go

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