Justin Rose tees off on the difficult 18th hole in last season's final round at TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral.
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
First-time PGA TOUR winner Michael Thompson could be considered a surprise champion at The Honda Classic. But his statistics -- mainly the improvement he made at PGA National compared to 2012 -- are even more shocking.
Thompson improved in ranking more than 100 spots in two critical statistics when comparing 2012 to The Honda Classic. We'll take a look at that and dive into the teeth of TPC Blue Monster at Trump Doral -- site of this week's World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship -- by going inside the numbers.
No. 10 The 508-yard 10th hole at PGA National played as the most difficult of the week at The Honda Classic. The average score on the 10th was 4.403, which is the most difficult hole on the PGA TOUR thus far in 2013. … An average of 4.403 would put the hole in the top 10 most-difficult on TOUR in most seasons. The 10th yielded just 15 birdies all week, three of which came on Sunday when it played the most difficult with a 4.680 average. Surprisingly, the highest single-round average came at the par-4 11th during Round 3 at 4.800.
12th The secret to success for Justin Rose in winning last year’s WGC-Cadillac Championship? Do everything well. Rose ranked 12th in all-around at the event. … Rose ranked in the top 30 in arguably the six most important statistics on TOUR at the Cadillac. He was 28th in driving distance, T18 in driving accuracy, T17 in greens in regulation, 6th in scrambling, 29th in strokes gained-putting and T5 in proximity to the hole. That’s pretty solid.
No. 18 The 467-yard par-4 hole at TPC Blue Monster ranked as the second-most difficult hole on the PGA TOUR last season at 4.539. Only No. 6 at The Olympic Club ranked tougher (4.544), which was during the U.S. Open. … The 18th ranked 33rd in 2011 and 101st in 2010. The signature hole at Trump Doral features a large water hazard down the left-hand side and plenty of tree trouble and bunkers on the right. The wind plays a huge factor as well – par feels a lot like birdie against the wind.
48 of 72 Michael Thompson hit 48 of 72 greens in regulation in winning The Honda Classic, ranking T5 in the category on the week. … That doesn’t even sound very impressive. But consider GIR leader Peter Hanson hit 51 greens at difficult PGA National. Also consider how much of an improvement compared to the field it was for Thompson. For the 2012 season, he ranked 144th in GIR. He was also spot-on with this driving accuracy, ranking T9 at PGA National at 71.43 percent compared to 126th (59.43 percent) at year-end of 2012.
66.22 percent Scrambling rate through four events for Lee Westwood. That ranks 21st on TOUR. … Why is this important? Well, consider Westwood finished 2012 ranked 191st (48.3 percent) in scrambling – one of the weaker aspects of his golf game. One of the reasons Westwood moved his family from England to South Florida in the offseason was to get his short game in better shape. So far, it appears to have helped.
68th Tiger Woods’ all-around rank at The Honda Classic, where he finished T37. … There are plenty of positives when breaking down Woods’ stats from PGA National. He was T11 in greens in regulation, T3 in eagles per hole, T10 in driving distance and T3 in proximity to the hole. But Woods ranked T46 in birdie average – which is likely a result of his strokes gained-putting rank of 38th at .270, meaning he picked up only about one shot on the field average for the week via putting. Woods was also T47 in scrambling, making par or better from off the green only 13 of 25 times.
309.6 Driving distance for PGA TOUR leader Nicolas Colsaerts. … The Belgian bomber is certainly living up to his namesake. It will be interesting to see if Colsaerts can stay on top throughout the season. He had an average of 315.2 in a limited schedule in 2012. Furthermore, it will be equally as interesting to see where he ends up. It's doubtful he will challenge Hank Kuehne's all-time high average of 321.4 set in 2003. But considering the uneven weather so far on TOUR, there’s no telling what Colsaerts can do in the summer heat.
1,282 FedExCup points for leader Brandt Snedeker. … Snedeker, who is sitting out Cadillac due to a rib injury, is way ahead of the 2012 pace through this point. Last season, Kyle Stanley led the TOUR with 935 points.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open/Humana Challenge
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- A year ago, a final-round 63 was too little, too late for Lee Westwood, who wound up fourth at The Honda Classic.
He hopes not to be in that position this time around.
Westwood shot a 68 Friday, putting him at 6 under at this year's event and in contention with two rounds to go. Two of the last three years, Westwood has finished in the top 10 here.
"I missed a good chance at 16 and didn't birdie the last," Westwood said of two missed opportunities late in his round Friday "That could really have put some pressure on."
Still, there should be less pressure on Westwood heading into the weekend.
"I always played this golf course pretty well," he said. "I'm pleased with the way I played the first couple of days and should be in decent position."
A short commute can only help, too.
Westwood moved just down the street from PGA National, buying a house next to Charl Schwartzel at Old Palm.
"It's nice to not have to pack a suitcase," Westwood said. "It's nice to go home and have dinner with the kids and sleep in your own bed."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- When Lee Westwood pitched the idea of moving to the U.S. to his family, he wasn't met with much resistance.
"It wasn't a tough sell," said Westwood, who settled just down the road at Old Palm in the offseason. "Do you want to go and live by the sea and the sun by a beach? It was a pretty quick take‑up."
Now Westwood is hoping the decision will pay off inside the ropes.
Twice in the last three years, Westwood has finished in the top 10 at The Honda Classic. The 39-year-old has 22 career wins on the European Tour but just two on the PGA TOUR -- and zero majors.
"We were driving down the road, me and (agent) Chubby Chandler, and I said, 'I could live here for sure,'" said Westwood, who finished fourth here a year ago after a final-round 63. "I expect to feel better this year because of less travel and less going through time zones. The older you get, the harder it is to sort of get your head around that."
Westwood also became frustrated with the winters in England, where the weather limited his practice.
"Not being able to work as hard as I would like, and coming out at the start of the year, really feeling too rusty," continued Westwood, who now counts ISM stablemates Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen among his neighbors. "I wanted to come and live in the sunshine"
At Old Palm, Westwood & Co. has a top-notch practice facility that includes a 33-acre double-ended range, four practice holes, a large short-game area, a TrackMan hitting bay and a golf studio.
Not that he doesn't miss England.
"Cricket, rugby, football," he said.
Just not the weather.
"I probably get more football on TV here than we do back in England," Westwood said. "They can't show it at 3 o'clock on a Saturday in England because they are trying to get people to go to the games, but here it's on at 10 o'clock in the morning which seems like a much more reasonable time to watch football.
"I must watch a fair bit because my wife moans at me about it. 'Not football on again' is often heard in my house."
At least now he can leave and go practice.
"I can practice every aspect of my game," Westwood said. "And I get to do it in shorts, whereas it would have been waterproofs this time of year in England."
MARANA, Ariz. -- Rafael Cabrera Bello is ranked 60th in the world, 52 spots below where Lee Westwood ranks. But rankings made no difference on Thursday, as the Spaniard knocked off Westwood in 19 holes in one of the biggest upsets in the first round.
Cabrera Bello, a 15th seed, will now play Martin Kaymer in the second round of the Player bracket.
Cabrera Bello was making just his second appearance in this event, having lost in the first round last year to Jason Day. But he overcame a sluggish start to beat the second-seeded Westwood, who had reached the semifinals here last year.
"Obviously the odds were in his favor," Cabrera Bello said, "but in match play, anything cann happen. I just tried my best and I was fortunate enough to win."
Westwood was 2 up through five holes, with Cabrera Bello bogeying three of those holes. But he steadied himself to play bogey-free golf the rest of the match.
He was still 3 down at the turn but he won the 10th hole with a birdie, then squared the match with pars at the 13th and 14th holes.
Westwood regained the lead with a birdie at the 15th but gave it back when he bogeyed the 18th, missing a 7-foot putt that would have clinched the win.
Cabrera Bello then won the match on the first extra hole when he rolled in a birdie putt from 10-1/2 feet.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Lee Westwood has played in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship a dozen times.
Until last year, though, when Westwood reached Sunday's consolation finals, he had never made it past the second round. So was there anything the Englishman did differently?
"Other than not really putting too much pressure on myself to try and get going in the tournament, no," Westwood said. "Just try to play carefree golf sort of and see what happened."
His success at Dove Mountain a year ago -- where Westwood beat a formidable lineup in Nicolas Colsaerts, Robert Karlsson, Nick Watney and Martin Laird before falling to Rory McIlroy in the semifinals -- has the transplanted Brit eager to see what happens this week. He has additional motivation, too, after moving his family to South Florida over the Christmas holidays.
"This is my fourth week away, so the moving in process is happening as we speak, so my main incentive this week is to get as far as possible to stay away from box-unpacking duty," Westwood said with a smile.
"Other than the fact that we're playing for a World Golf Championship and fortunes, I'm trying to stay away from the task of unwrapping things, as well. So that's a lot of pressure."
Westwood's first-round opponent is Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who is playing in the Accenture Match Play Championship for the second time. Westwood is pleased with the way he's playing, particularly his short game, but he's looking to get on a roll after ties for 46th and 21st in his first two PGA TOUR starts.
"The first three weeks of the year, I really haven't been able to sort of get any momentum going," Westwood explained. "If I have, then I've followed it up at that double bogey or something like that. I haven't had the breaks when I've needed them. It's just golf, and you just keep playing and try and do the right things well and more often, and just wait for things to happen.
"This could be the week that it happens."
Lee Westwood answered fan questions Tuesday in a live video chat from the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The former world No. 1 finished fourth at last year's Match Play.
The replay is available above or on-demand at www.youtube.com/pgatour.