Was it DeChambeau’s Long Ball that beat Westwood by a single stroke at Bay Hill?

I admit that Bryson is growing on me. His demeanor seems more joyful and he is playing a bit faster. You have to admire the dedication to his craft, his skill and prodigious, yet accurate, long game. That said, I was rooting for Lee Westwood, once it was clear that Zach Johnson was not going to don Arnie’s famous sweater.

Let’s ignore the first three rounds and jump straight to the final head-to-head between Bryson and Lee Westwood. Bottom line, in the 4th round, Westwood’s accuracy with his approach shots offset Bryson’s driving distance and accuracy. Neither of them made any long game mistakes. Lee’s short game bested Bryson by just over a stoke – enhanced by a 19-foot putt from the fringe (considered short game, not putting, in tour stats).

The true separation between the two came on the greens. Lee gave up 3.44 Strokes Gained to Bryson on the greens in the 4th round alone. Part of it was a single 3-Putt by Lee from 46 feet – by no means a choke on those firm, windswept greens – but Bryson had no 3-Putts.

The major difference was in the 1-Putts made versus those missed. Even Paul Azinger cringed along with the rest of us as Westwood missed FIVE consecutive putts from 19′, 9′, 8′ (for par), 13′ and 9′ in the first five holes of the round. A player tied for the lead in a premier event needs to make at least two of these putts. I did not see it, but believe that Lee’s fiancee/caddie must have walked off the 5th hole with her head a bit down. Below, are the 1-Putt numbers by distance for DeChambeau and Westwood for the 4th round.

The 6 to 10-foot range is the 50% make distance on the PGA Tour. As I have said for years, this important range separates the good putters on Tour from the rest while the 11 – 20 foot range usually separates the winners. In the final round, the winner tends to beat that 50% average from 6 to 10 feet. Had Lee made 3 of 5 (60%), he would have put himself in the cat-bird seat.

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