ORLANDO, Fla. — The Shotlink technology on the PGA Tour does more than just chart each shot of every player in every round. It also documents how long it takes them to hit each shot.
The information is not available to the public, only the players. The idea is for them to see where they rank among their peers, another layer of evidence should they need to pick up the pace.
”We use it as a tool for players to analyze where they may have room for improvement,” said Andy Pazder, the tour’s senior vice president of tour administration.
Brett Quigley looked up his ranking last week at the Transitions Championship and was perplexed – not because he was No. 12 on the list of players who take the shortest time to play, but who were the 11 guys faster than him.
The timing is not scientific, but it has shown to provide an accurate snapshot.
Unlike an official timing when a player is out of position, the volunteer entering the Shotlink data hits the button as soon as the first player in the group hits a shot. The next player is “timed” until he hits his shot. That doesn’t account for waiting for the previous player to pick up his tee and move to the side, or any other delays.
The first player to hit in each group is not timed. The Tour throws out the top 10 percent of fastest times and top 10 percent of the slowest times. Also thrown out is whenever a player requires a ruling or has to take a drop.
After studying the data for a couple of years, and measuring that against which players were put on the clock most frequently, the tour found the two lists to be comparable.
John Daly, Chris Riley, Dustin Johnson, Mark Calcavecchia, Pat Perez and Quigley were around the top of the ranking. Portions of the list were obtained under the condition the slower players were not identified to avoid embarrassment, although it’s safe to say there were no surprises.
The times have been made available to players since 2006, and there is no evidence that it is helping. But this goes beyond timing and a ranking. Because the Shotlink data can process so much information, players can even find out where they are slow. The system studies how long it takes players to hit off the tee, from the fairway, when they go for a par 5 in two, when they lay up on a par 5, around the green and putting.
”We can go to a player and show, for example, that he’s good everywhere from tee to green, but once he gets on the green he slows down,” Pazder said. “It’s turned into a pretty good resource.”
MASTERS TIME: Stephen Ames matched the low score of the final round at the Transitions Championship, and while it was only good for a tie for sixth, it sure didn’t hurt. Ames moved up to No. 54 in the world, raising his hopes of getting into the Masters.
This is the final week – the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill on the PGA Tour and the Andalucia Open in Spain – for players to get into the top 50 and earn an invitation to Augusta National.
K.J. Choi made the biggest move last week with his runner-up finish at Innisbrook, moving from No. 75 to No. 47. Now all he has to do is stay in the top 50 after Bay Hill.
“All I can say is I will try my best next week to maintain or better that position,” Choi said.
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand is at No. 45 and would appear to be safe.
Those in dire need of a strong week include J.B. Holmes (No. 58) and Justin Rose (No. 59). Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa is at No. 60 and playing the Andalucia Open.
TIGER SCHEDULE: Tiger Woods says he doesn’t know where he will play after the Masters, and there are indications he will not play the minimum 15 tournaments required for PGA Tour membership.
That doesn’t mean he will lose his card.
Woods becomes a life member after this year – 15 years of active tournament play with at least 20 victories. What he loses is his voting rights for the 2010, meaning he would not get to vote for player of the year.
The Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average requires that he play at least 60 official rounds, while the Byron Nelson Award (the tour’s version of the Vardon) requires only 50 rounds. There are no minimum standards to be eligible for the Jack Nicklaus Award (PGA Tour player of the year) or the Arnold Palmer Award (money list).
GETTING A GRIP: Known for his unorthodox swing, Jim Furyk now has a most peculiar grip on his putter.
Attribute that to his father.
Furyk was unhappy with his putting last year, his second consecutive season without winning, and while talking over his game with his father – who also is his coach – during the offseason, Mike Furyk suggested turning the grip on his putter upside-down.
“I don’t know why he thought about it, but he said, ‘Have you ever thought about turning it upside-down?’ And I kind of laughed because it sounded so crazy,” Furyk said.
Furyk putts cross-handed, and his father figured having the thicker part of the grip in his left hand might help. Furyk flipped the grip and tried it out, and he has not changed since he began his season at Riviera.
“It’s much, much more comfortable for me,” Furyk said after his one-shot victory in the Transitions Championship.
DIVOTS: John Daly said on Twitter that he was “depressed” to learn he did not get exemptions to Bay Hill or the Houston Open, although he hasn’t lost his humor. “Not getting an exemption is 3 weeks off and I’m not even suspended,” read one tweet. … Tiger Woods’ image is on the media credential for Bay Hill, along with tournament host Arnold Palmer. … New Orleans Saints coach Sean Peyton was at Bay Hill on Tuesday, posing with the Super Bowl trophy and Arnold Palmer.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Geoff Ogilvy and Ian Poulter are the only players who have won on the PGA Tour this year who are not at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
FINAL WORD: “They went back home to Minnesota. It was too cold down here.” – Tim Herron, on why his parents did not stay in Florida to watch him play the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.