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Top stats of 2023: Scottie Scheffler's sensational season among top performances on TOUR

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Stats Report

Top stats of 2023: Scottie Scheffler's sensational season among top performances on TOUR

    Written by Justin Ray, @JustinRayGolf

    Sunday, the PGA TOUR finished the business end of what will be the last season of an era.

    Gone in 2024 will be the wrap-around setup, retired after a decade of hyphenated season statistics. Signature Events dot the ’24 schedule, with players battling for coveted spots in those fields in the events between. The landscape of professional golf has been irrevocably altered in the last two years, and 2024 will provide a fascinating, refreshed landscape for the peak of the sport.

    The recently completed 2022-23 season generated a litany of incredible on-course achievements, crowded Sunday leaderboards and fascinating finishes. What follows are the best statistics on the PGA TOUR this year.

    Scheffler’s sensational season

    Scottie Scheffler put together one of the most complete, glittering ball striking seasons in PGA TOUR history in 2023. Scheffler finished with an adjusted scoring average of 68.63, the seventh-lowest in TOUR history and best by anyone not named Tiger Woods. Amazingly, Woods has each of the top-six spots on the all-time list (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009). Scheffler made bogey or worse on just 10.73% of his holes played for the season, the first time a qualified player has been below 11% since Woods in 2002 (10.29%).

    Scottie Scheffler dominates to win THE PLAYERS

    Strokes Gained numbers have been gathered and tabulated for two decades on the PGA TOUR. Scheffler’s Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green average this season of 2.62 per round is the second-best mark ever recorded in that time span. Only Woods, who in 2006 averaged a staggering 2.98 per round, has had a season gaining more per round. Scheffler is the first player in the Strokes Gained era to finish a season leading the TOUR in both SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Approach. At 74.43%, Scheffler is also the first player to lead the PGA TOUR in Greens in Regulation in back-to-back seasons since John Senden did it in 2009 and 2010.

    Scottie Scheffler: 2022-23 PGA TOUR ranks
    Scoring Average1st
    Top-10 finishes1st
    SG: Total1st
    SG: Off-the-Tee1st
    SG: Approach Green1st
    SG: Tee-to-Green1st
    Greens in Regulation1st
    Proximity 175-200 yards1st
    Bogey Avoidance1st

    The biggest week of Scottie’s season came in March at TPC Sawgrass when he claimed his first PLAYERS Championship. Having won the 2022 Masters, Scheffler became just the third player to hold both the Masters and PLAYERS titles simultaneously, joining Woods and Jack Nicklaus. Scheffler’s ball striking that week mirrored the excellence of his entire season: he is the only PLAYERS champion to lead the field in both Driving Distance and Greens in Regulation.

    The victory was Scheffler’s sixth on the PGA TOUR, just 392 days after he picked up his first TOUR title at the 2022 WM Phoenix Open. That gap between wins one and six was the fourth-shortest of the last 60 years, behind only Woods (273 days), Nicklaus (322) and David Duval (332). Scottie’s 17 top-10 finishes in 2022-23 were the most by any player in a single PGA TOUR season since Vijay Singh had 18 back in 2005.

    Åberg breaks out

    At the end of May, Ludvig Åberg was still wearing a Texas Tech team-issued golf shirt in competition. By mid-November, he was a Ryder Cup veteran and PGA TOUR winner.

    Åberg’s ascent was one of the most captivating stories of the season’s second half. A tie for fourth at the John Deere Classic was the Swede’s first big flash of elite play on TOUR. Three straight top-10 finishes on the DP World Tour followed, an impressive enough run to warrant a captain’s pick from European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald. When Åberg teed it up in Rome, he became the first player to compete in a Ryder Cup before making his major championship debut. Åberg and Viktor Hovland’s Saturday morning 9-and-7 foursomes win was the largest margin of victory in Ryder Cup history in an 18-hole match.

    Åberg may have saved his best for the last week of the season. At The RSM Classic, he peppered flagsticks and the PGA TOUR record book on his way to becoming the first PGA TOUR U graduate to win on the big circuit. His 72-hole total score of 253 tied Justin Thomas’ record for the lowest ever in an official event. His closing pair of 61s added up to the lowest finishing 36-hole total in TOUR history. His closing 54-hole score of 186 tied the lowest three-round cumulative total of all-time.

    Ludvig Åberg drains birdie to win The RSM Classic

    Åberg is the first player to turn professional, win on the DP World Tour and win on the PGA TOUR in the same calendar year. He finishes the season as the TOUR leader in birdie average, ball striking, total driving and the all-around ranking.

    Approach play improvements lift Rahm to new heights

    Through the first several months of 2023, there was nobody playing better golf than Jon Rahm. At The Sentry, Rahm put together the biggest final-round comeback to win of the season, starting that Sunday seven shots off the lead. When Rahm won his third tournament of the season at The Genesis Invitational, it was the fastest in a calendar year that a player had won three times since Johnny Miller in 1975.

    Rahm brought that incredible form with him to Georgia in April for the year’s first major championship. With his victory there, Rahm became the first European player to win both the U.S. Open and the Masters. Not that the week got off to the best start – the Spaniard made double-bogey on the opening hole of the tournament, becoming the first player to do that the week of a Masters win since Sam Snead in 1952. It helped to have one of the best ball striking performances in the history of the Tournament: Rahm hit 85 percent of his fairways and 72 percent of his greens in regulation, benchmarks not dually reached by a Masters winner since Ben Crenshaw in 1995.

    Jon Rahm: Approach play last two PGA TOUR seasons
    SG: ApproachT-383rd
    Fairway proximityT-391st
    Overall proximityT-578th
    Proximity 175-225 yards23rd1st
    Proximity outside 200 yards24th4th

    Rahm’s biggest strides in 2023 are revealed when digging into the details of his approach play. Rahm vaulted from T-38 in SG: Approach per round last season to third this year. He led the PGA TOUR in both proximity from the fairway (28’9”, almost 4 feet better than TOUR average) and proximity on approaches from 175 to 225 yards away.

    Remarkable rounds

    Though nobody joined the 58 or 59 clubs in 2023 on the PGA TOUR, there were plenty of low numbers shot. In the penultimate official round of 2023, Mackenzie Hughes lit up the Seaside Course to shoot 60 – the fifth round of 60 or lower this season. The only season with more all-time on TOUR was 2017, when there were six.

    Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele each made history in Los Angeles this summer, carding the first 62s in the long history of the U.S. Open. By SG: Total, those two rounds were the best single performances relative to the field average all season, picking up 9.38 shots on the field each.

    Rickie Fowler’s interview after Round 1 of U.S. Open

    Fittingly, Scheffler recorded the best single round in terms of SG: Tee-to-Green, racking up 9.45 Sunday of the Memorial Tournament. The best SG: Putting performance was reserved for the FedEx Fall: 6.67 by Blake Hathcoat in Round 2 of the Fortinet Championship.

    There were 10 instances of players hitting every fairway and every green in regulation in the same PGA TOUR round. Eight of them came in the same tournament – the World Wide Technology Championship.

    McIlroy: The first in 42 years

    At the TOUR Championship, Rory McIlroy finished alone in fourth place – his 10th consecutive top-10 finish in what would be his last start of the PGA TOUR season. McIlroy became the first player to finish a season with a streak of 10 or more top-10 results since Tom Kite in 1981. Rory also set a new driving distance record on TOUR: His 326.3 yards per measured drive is the longest for any player in a single season all-time.

    For better or worse, McIlroy exists in a small cloud of active players who are evaluated almost exclusively on what they do in the game’s biggest championships. The Open marked his 20th top-10 finish in the majors since his last win, the 2014 PGA Championship. Since the first Masters in 1934, McIlroy is the only player with 20 or more top-10 finishes – none of them victories – in a nine-year stretch of majors.

    The year of the comeback

    Several players orchestrated notable career revivals in 2023. In May, former world No. 1 Jason Day won on the PGA TOUR for the first time in more than five years. In a career with more than 500 PGA TOUR starts, Lucas Glover didn’t get his first multi-win season until 2023 – and he did it in back-to-back weeks. At 43 years old, Glover became the oldest player to win back-to-back events on the PGA TOUR since Vijay Singh in 2008.

    Rickie Fowler: PGA TOUR ranks last two seasons
    SG: Approach150thT-6
    SG: Tee-to-Green101st11th
    Scoring Average111th11th
    SG: Total133rd12th

    Rickie Fowler’s resurgence, though, might take the cake. Fowler not only got back in the winner’s circle this summer, he underwent a complete renovation of his approach play profile. After ranking 150th or worse in each of the previous two seasons in SG: Approach, Fowler finished tied for sixth in that metric in 2023. Fowler also skyrocketed up the boards in SG: Tee-to-Green, scoring average and SG: Total. It culminated in a captain’s pick for U.S. Captain Zach Johnson’s Ryder Cup team in Rome.

    The FedExCup champion

    Viktor Hovland’s lucrative run through the PGA TOUR postseason culminated in a five-shot waltz to a win at East Lake. His week at the TOUR Championship was one of the most complete statistical performances in the history of the TOUR. That week, Hovland became the only player in the last 30 years to win an event while leading or co-leading that field in Driving Accuracy, Greens in Regulation and Scrambling.

    Viktor Hovland’s FedExCup heroics

    At both East Lake and the previous week at Olympia Fields (BMW Championship), Hovland led the tournament in fairways hit. Hovland is the only player in the last 40 years to win back-to-back weeks on the PGA TOUR while leading both of those tournament fields in driving accuracy.

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