TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas hosts the Shriners Hospital for Children Open again this year, teeing off this Thursday morning. Some quality golfers will be on hand, perhaps with the goal of boosting their self-confidence going forward – this is a course that yielded 26 birdies and two eagles to last year’s winner, Ben Martin. Putting it mildly, there will be plenty of fantasy points to go around.
This is the kind of early-season track you might expect, with lots of scoring adding to the excitement in a way that builds perfectly on the ProAms being played earlier in the week. Despite a par-71 layout, there has only ever been one winner who finished worse than 20 under par (Martin Laird won at -19 in 2009). And in order for a golfer to claim victory on a course like that, he is going to have to take advantage of every scoring opportunity.
But what does “take advantage of every scoring opportunity” mean? Well, let’s break it down into two parts. First, what constitutes a scoring opportunity? Pretty simple really, and we have a stat for that that: “Greens in Regulation.” Heard of that? All it means is that you just gave yourself a chance at sinking a putt for birdie or better. In other words, you gave yourself a scoring chance.
And what could “taking advantage” mean other than just sinking your putts? And we have a stat for that too. So sure, you can look at Par -4 scoring (average of 3.98 last year) or any other metric you want, but getting on the green and hitting your putts seems like a pretty tried and true method of succeeding at golf. In fact, either one of those skills would likely be enough for you to give a golfer a longer look this weekend, especially if he is playing well recently. But if you’re looking for a specific set of statistics that might lead you to players with the skills to succeed this weekend, it’s pretty simple: if you can find a golfer who tops the charts in GIR % and Strokes Gained: Putting, you have found a golfer you want in your lineup.