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A look at Scottie Scheffler’s large leads in the FedExCup, OWGR

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Stats Report

A look at Scottie Scheffler’s large leads in the FedExCup, OWGR

    Written by Justin Ray, @JustinRayGolf

    The rise of Scottie Scheffler

    Scottie Scheffler has been re-writing golf’s record books for the last four months.

    At the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Scheffler went from arguably the best player without a TOUR win to an unquestionable force.

    Then he officially became the best player (period) on the planet after his win at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, which vaulted him atop the Official World Golf Ranking. His gap of just 42 days between his first PGA TOUR or DP World Tour victory and ascending to No. 1 was by far the shortest in the 36-year history of the OWGR. And only Tiger Woods (21) and Jordan Spieth (77) needed fewer starts as a professional than Scheffler’s 92 to reach No. 1.

    At the Masters, Scheffler became the first player since Arnold Palmer in 1960 to leave Augusta with four or more wins that PGA TOUR season, including the Green Jacket. His win came in his very first start as the world No. 1, mirroring what Ian Woosnam did at Augusta National in 1991.

    And at the Charles Schwab Challenge two weeks ago, Scheffler showed he’s not close to done with this incredible heater. If not for Sam Burns’ heroics, Scheffler would have become the first player since Bobby Locke in 1947 to get each of his first five PGA TOUR victories in the same season.

    Scheffler is positioned to create even more history as the season reaches its apex. He returns to action this week at the RBC Canadian Open, his first career appearance in this storied event. And he does so with sizable leads in both the FedExCup and world ranking.

    Top of the Standings

    Scheffler’s enormous FedExCup lead of 1,041 points is easily the largest by any player at this point in the season under the current format, which started in 2009. The second-largest lead any player has had in the season points race as the TOUR left the Memorial Tournament was in 2015, when Jordan Spieth led by 624.

    With most TOUR events awarding 500 points to the winner, even an additional two wins by Burns – who ranks second in the FedExCup with three wins this season – could not be enough to catch his good friend. It’s a testament to Scheffler’s win in some big events, including a major (the Masters, which awards 600 points), a World Golf Championship (the Dell Technologies Match Play, which awards 550) and an elevated invitational (the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, which also is worth 550 FedExCup points). Scheffler also has two runners-up this season.

    With 3,142 points this season, Scheffler already has amassed the third-highest Regular Season points total since the current system began 13 years ago. In all but two years, the sum he already has in his pocket would be enough to lead the standings entering the FedExCup Playoffs. The only exceptions are 2009 (Tiger Woods, 3,431 points) and 2015 (Jordan Spieth, 4,169 points).

    Scheffler has averaged about 203 points per start since the beginning of February. If he maintains that pace and plays four more tournaments (in addition to this week) before the Playoffs begin, it would be entirely possible that Scheffler breaks Spieth’s record for the most Regular Season points accumulated under the current system.

    Emphatic No. 1

    Scheffler also leads the Official World Golf Ranking with an average of 10.15 points per start, about 2.49 points ahead of world No. 2 Jon Rahm. That lead is more than twice the size of what Rahm’s lead was as No. 1 over Collin Morikawa (9.80 to 8.75) in the first ranking of 2022. A year ago today, Dustin Johnson held the top spot, but his margin over Justin Thomas was just 1.79 average points. Scheffler is assured of holding the top spot entering next week’s U.S. Open, regardless of what happens this week in Canada.

    Any time the topic of large leads atop the OWGR comes up, it’s impossible to not look back at some of the astronomical gaps Tiger Woods put between himself and the rest of the sport in his prime. After winning the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods had an average of 21.54 points per start – more than double world No. 2 Phil Mickelson (who had a very strong number of 10.21 – a higher average than Scheffler holds this week).

    In November 2000, Woods played in the Johnnie Walker Classic, a tournament in Thailand that was co-sanctioned by the DP World and Asian Tours. Despite winning that week, Woods’ average points number actually went down, from 28.64 to 28.47. His lead that week over world No. 2 Ernie Els was about 17 points.

    So while Scheffler is enjoying a healthy gap between himself and number two right now, it’s nowhere near the halcyon days of peak Woods.

    How Scheffler Made His Leap

    The biggest statistical jump for Scheffler this season over last has come from his approach play. Scheffler has gone from an above-average iron player on the PGA TOUR last season to an elite one in 2022. Last year, Scheffler averaged about 0.15 Strokes Gained: Approach per round, good for a respectable ranking of 83rd among qualified players. This season, that number has more-than-quadrupled to 0.69 per round, good for 13th-best on TOUR.

    If you are into more traditional statistics, take a look at his rate of hitting greens in regulation. In each of Scheffler’s first two full seasons on TOUR, he ranked 43rd and 45th in greens in regulation. This season, he’s second-best on TOUR at 71.6%, a clip that trails only Rahm (72.3%).

    Scheffler has also made a similar statistical improvement on the greens. Last season, he was right around average with his putter, with 0.02 Strokes Gained: Putting per round. He’s jumped from 107th in that metric to 26th this season – and ranked a strong 14th in the statistic the week of his victory at Augusta National. One interesting thing one can glean from analyzing Scheffler’s putting this season is that it actually has distinct room for improvement, too: from 4-8 feet away, he’s making significantly less putts (65.2%) than the PGA TOUR average (69.0%).

    For the competition, that’s quite a frightening thought.

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