This stat suggests Tiger Woods is actually the most consistent star on Tour

August 15, 2019

As Stewart Cink once told GOLF stats guru Mark Broadie, “the field has never had a bad day.” His point was simple: Beating an individual player is one thing, but beating the field is a better measure of excellence.

By that measure, Tiger Woods’ heyday was even better than we knew. Broadie contends that the most impressive stat of his career was not his major total or number of wins but instead his consecutive rounds beating the field. From August 1999 through November 2000, Woods beat the field’s stroke average in 89 consecutive tournament rounds. Eighty-nine! For perspective, the player with the second-best streak was Mark O’Meara — at 33.

Twenty years later, that same statistic illustrates just how consistent Woods has been in 2019. Sure, he hasn’t seriously contended since winning the Masters — but Woods has hardly been some slouch. In fact, Woods beat the field in 15 of his first 16 rounds of the year, and 27 of his first 30. Woods lost strokes to the field in two of his three most recents rounds (at the Open Championship and The Northern Trust) to put him at a respectable 28 for 33 (84.85%) this season.

How does that line up against other top players? Quite favorably. In those same events, he’s beating the field at a higher rate than World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, who has gone 22 for 28 (78.6%), World No. 2 Dustin Johnson, who’s 26 for 32 (81.25%) and World No. 3 Rory McIlroy, who’s 30 for 36 (83.3%).

If you dive deeper into the season-long numbers, things look even better for Woods. Pro accountant and daily fantasy expert Nelson Adcock put together a table of strokes-gained numbers adjusting for field strength. Considering Woods only plays tournaments with the best in the world, his numbers look even better — 30 for 33 in rounds ahead of the field. According to Adcock’s table, that has actually made Woods the most consistent player on the PGA Tour this season.

Woods’ 91% clip is impressive, and it’s not surprising to see McIlroy right on his heels at 87%. Behind them is a who’s-who of the Tour’s most reliable top performers: Rahm, Cantlay, Simpson, Thomas, Kuchar, Johnson. Meanwhile, Koepka’s reputation as a big-game hunter bears out in the numbers: his 71% clip is rather pedestrian by comparison.

Given injury concerns and mixed form of late, Woods faces many questions heading to the start of the BMW Championship. But the next time someone dismisses Woods’ 2019 as a disappointing season or suggests he has become just another Tour player, show them these numbers. Woods has been anything but average.

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