Every week, the editors of Golf.com assemble an all-star cast of stat-busting superstars -- players whose dominance in key areas of the game left the rest of the Tour in the dust.
“¿Quien es mas macho?” was the charge this week as Golf.com’s all-star selection committee ventured to the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba to laud the players who dominated the key stat categories. We looked hard at Fred Funk, who took the inaugural Mayakoba tournament eight seasons ago and garnered his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour in just as many years, but we can’t name Playa del Carmen, the host city, Funkytown just yet. Nor will you find Playa del Charley on our map, even though Señor Hoffman ran off with $13.5 million pesos and the first-place trophy. Hoffman was good across the board on the El Camaleon course, but he didn’t kill it in key areas like our guys. Scroll down for some eye-popping performance numbers and ways to take your numbers south of your scoring border the next time you tee it up.
7th Season on the European PGA Tour
Alvaro Quiros is always a threat to pace the field in driving distance, and he didn’t disappoint last week, positing a 305-yard average that beat the tournament mean by 52 feet. The 31-year-old Spaniard is tall (6’ 3”) and lean (185 lbs.)—the ultimate driving machine. Unfortunately, Quiros is still prone to the occasional blow-up. Case in point: a quadruple-bogey on the par-4 second on Sunday that included a penalty drop, two swings from the same bunker and a three-putt.
But hey—who cares about the occasional quad when you can hit it as far as you can see? If it’s distance you crave, then look no further than Alvaro’s “extended” takeaway and release. As Quiros puts it, “You need to extend fully on both sides of the ball. I like to keep my left arm nice and straight in my takeaway with the club pointing down the line, away from the target. I often make a half swing like this to check that I'm doing it correctly. I want to feel the same thing swinging past the ball—both arms straight and extended down the target line.”
Andres Gonzalez 7th
3rd season on Tour
This is our first Ballstriking award of the young season. For you non-stat types, ballstriking measure a players proficiency in hitting both tee shots and irons shots, combining the golfer’s rank in total driving (distance and accuracy) and G.I.R. Web.com grad and former Canadian Tour grinder Andres Gonzalez, 31, notched a “7,” which means he averaged at least a top-4 finish in each category. That’s macho. Gonzalez’s Twitter bio reads “part man, part amazing,” which is even más macho. And his turn-of-the-last-century handlebar moustache is money. If you’re not rooting for this guy, you’ve got problems.
Most weekend players are good drivers or good iron players, but rarely are they both like Gonzalez. That’s because they only have one swing. You actually need two. Research from digital swing analyzer TrackMan shows that good players swing from outside-in and with a descending angle of attack with their wedges and irons, and from inside-out and with an ascending angle of attack with a driver. How do you adjust? Let Top 100 Teacher T.J. Tomasi be your guide:
“On iron and wedge swings, set your hands under your shoulders. This positions you to create a steeper swing plane. Next, play the ball back and open your stance slightly, but aim the clubface at the target. This will help you generate the outside-in path you need.”
For a driver, do the opposite: stand farther away from the ball with your hands under your chin, and slightly close your stance. “The club dictates your setup, and your setup dictates your path,” adds Tomasi. “Because you have two very distinct types of weapons—your irons and your driver—you need two setups and two swings.”
Best Short Game Player
First year on Tour
Max Homa is 24 years old. Just 18 months ago he was cramming for finals in the library at Cal. He’s probably one of those young gun bomb-and-gouge guys, right? Well, sort of. Homa can bomb, but there’s more to the Burbank, Calif., native than that. He’s showing signs of scrambling savant-ness. Check this: of the 33 greens Max missed at the Mayakoba, he carded par or better 29 times. Twenty-nine! That’s an average of seven up-and-downs per round and a scrambling percentage of 87.9. The field averaged 62.8. Dominant.
The secret to saving par when you miss greens? Well, it depends on where you’re missing them. Let’s keep it simple and fix your tendency to chunk chips. “You’ll always catch chips crisp,” instructs Top 100 Teacher Brian Mogg, “when the arc of your swing bottoms out in front of the ball.” Here's a little-known fact about swing arc: It typically bottoms out under the middle of your chest. “So when setting up to chip,” adds Mogg, “move more weight to your front foot and get your chest -- and swing arc bottom -- ahead of the ball using your shirt buttons as a guide, like this. If you lean back like you're hitting driver, you'll smack the ground first every time.”
2nd season on Tour
Imagine one-putting 11 greens and two-putting the rest. Then doing it four rounds in a row. Such was the video-game-like flatstick display of Tour sophomore—and appropriately named—Michael Putnam, who tore up El Camaleon’s greens like they owed him money. Putnam came out hot with rounds of 66 and 64, but faded from the leaders over the weekend. Still, 100 putts on Tour greens is lights out.
Marius Filmalter, one of the inventors of SAM PuttLab and Tomi, has analyzed more than 65,000 putting strokes. “The big difference between good putters and everyone else is wrist breakdown.” He says. “As soon as the putterhead passes your hands, you add loft, making it impossible to control distance.” Filmalter suggests gripping the club with your palms opened and pressed together when you practice. “Gripping the club like this trains you to putt with your core and shoulders, not with your hands and wrists.” He says. “It also makes it easy to maintain the angles in your wrists from setup to finish and strike every putt with the appropriate amount of loft.”