Was Dustin Johnson’s putting really record-setting bad at the WGC-Mexico?

March 6, 2017

Dustin Johnson won the WGC-Mexico despite setting a dubious record with his putter. But a deeper look into his putting stats doesn’t paint such a bleak picture.

The headline: Johnson missed 16 putts inside of 10 feet, the most missed by a winner on Tour since Vijay Singh bricked the same amount in the 2008 WGC-Bridgestone. For the week, Johnson ranked 74th in a field of 76 players from that distance.

Yes, T74 in a field of 76 is an eye-popping number for a winner. Looking at the raw numbers, Johnson putted dramatically better in his win at Riviera two weeks ago. At the Genesis Open, he made 62 of 67 (92.5%) attempts inside 10 feet and was ranked sixth in the field. In Mexico, he made 61 of 77 (79.2%) attempts inside 10 feet. Looking at last year’s totals, Johnson’s median is somewhere between these two extremes: He rolled in 87.5% of putts inside 10 feet in 2016.

As Peter Kostis tweeted, the poa annua greens at Club De Golf Chapultepec weren’t the easiest to putt on. (The event average for putts made inside 10 feet was 85.1%, making it the second-toughest from that distance this season.) DJ himself said he thought he putted well, but found the greens tricky to read. And to his credit, Johnson did roll in a disproportionate amount of long putts – he ranked first in putting from outside of 10 feet, making 11 of 34 for a mark of 32.4%. The field average was 14.5%!

For the week:

– Putting from 4 feet: 4 made on 7 attempts (Field average: 88.5%)

– Putting from 10-15 feet: 4 made on 7 attempts (Field average: 28.35%)

That’s how DJ could set a dubious record for short putts missed while still finishing 21st in strokes-gained putting for the week. 

Everyone knows Johnson is the Tour’s best driver of the ball, but if he can win tournaments while not making a lot of shorties, that means his reign as the World No. 1 will be a long one.