How WHOOP helps TOUR players perform their best
April 14, 2021
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- April 14, 2021
- Rory McIlroy relies on his WHOOP data. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Ever wonder what it’s like to have a putt to win the FedExCup, THE PLAYERS Championship, or a major? Or wanted to know how the body reacts to a putt to make a cut? Soon, you will be able to see such data from PGA TOUR players.
WHOOP, the Official Fitness Wearable of the PGA TOUR, is launching the WHOOP Live for Charity initiative, which will highlight player biometric data during defining moments throughout the season.
Players featured in WHOOP Live for Charity videos and social content will receive a $10,000 contribution to the charity of their choice on behalf of WHOOP and the TOUR. Fans can follow these moments at #WHOOPLIVE.
“I really like looking (at my WHOOP data) after tournaments to see what my heart rate was like,” PLAYERS champion Justin Thomas says. “I can get a specific look and be like, ‘Why did it go from 110 to 140? What was going on?”
The 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions, which Thomas won in a three-way playoff over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed, provided a great example of what is possible under the WHOOP Live for Charity Initiative.
According to WHOOP data, Thomas’ average heart rate during the final round at Kapalua was 114 beats per minute. It spiked at 154 bpm during the tournament’s stressful conclusion. The WHOOP Live for Charity content will sync highlights with illustrations of a player’s heart rate to deliver new content that provides fans further insight into the performances of the world’s best players.
This photo of Thomas’ big birdie putt in his playoff with Collin Morikawa at the 2020 Workday Charity Open provides another example of how WHOOP data can illustrate how players’ biometric data changes during a tournament’s closing holes.
Live heart rate is hardly the only metric WHOOP uses to help people personalize their workouts. WHOOP tracks metrics like heart rate variability (HRV), respiratory rate, sleep staging, and cardiovascular load to provide actionable insights around recovery, strain, and sleep. HRV measures the variance between heart beats to show if the body is ready to perform at optimal levels.
“I started wearing WHOOP because I just wanted to know more about my body and myself and how I recover. I just wanted to optimize what I do,” said another former PLAYERS and FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy. “In this day and age in golf, with the technology that’s out there, everyone is closer together. The difference between the No. 1-ranked player in the world and the No. 100 is actually pretty small. I want to do everything I possibly can to get an advantage. For me, WHOOP is one of those things that can give me an advantage.”
WHOOP lets players know if their body needs more rest or is ready to take on the day. It can also let them know if they’re getting the right type of sleep, and how factors like diet or other behaviors can impact the quality of their rest. And in recent times, it has even warned players that they may have been infected with COVID-19.
“So much of what’s powerful about technology is it can connect everyone on this planet,” WHOOP CEO Will Ahmed told PGATOUR.COM. “And you have up-and-coming golfers and aspirational athletes who can look at their WHOOP data in comparison to the best golfers in the world and that makes the experience even better.
“We formalized this partnership for two reasons. First is to improve player health and performance and provide as much data as we can to the players to help them understand their bodies. And the second is to produce WHOOP Live which will bring physiological data to fans. I think this is really innovative and first of its kind – the fact you will see heart rate and other data on top of replays and television broadcasts. It’s really exciting and it’s a formula that could be the future for sports broadly. When you see some of the highlights with that data on top you as a fan feel something, you feel a closer connection to the player and what they just experienced.”
Last summer, upon the TOUR’s return to golf, more than 1,000 WHOOP Straps were distributed for players, caddies and other essential personnel at PGA TOUR, Korn Ferry Tour and PGA TOUR Champions events, with accompanying membership for health monitoring.
“I don’t take it off, ever,” Thomas said. “More so at the beginning, learning what’s better for me and what helps me sleep and what helps me recover better. Now I’ve worn it long enough that I know. It’s just part of my life, I don’t even notice I have it on, but I still look at it every day.
“It’s more diet and eating close to bed, what you’re eating, how that helps you sleep. It’s a lot of little things and experimenting. I’m willing to make sacrifices in my life if it makes me feel better, play better, perform better.”
Thomas stresses that every person will have a different learning experience. For example, using melatonin to sleep can make him feel groggy but may be helpful to others. Thomas has also noticed his recovery is better when he drinks more water.
“What works for Rory doesn’t work for me, what works for me doesn’t work for him, doesn’t work for you, doesn’t work for everybody,” Thomas said. “I wanted to figure out what was good for me, and if I’m going into the weekend of The Masters, the PLAYERS, or any other tournament, and I’m playing really well and I have a three-shot lead, I need to know what I need to do this afternoon, tonight, before bed to where I feel like I’m going to sleep my best. If you can control what you can control, at least it gives you a better probability for what you want to achieve.”
Stewart Cink, who won this season’s Safeway Open at 47 years old, also is WHOOP a member.
“I think most everybody out on TOUR is using WHOOP. There's a couple of things that I might just pay closer attention to, like the recovery is important nowadays. I'm still trying to figure out exactly the best way for me to recover,” Cink says. “I mean it's so much more than just getting the eight hours of sleep, it's a little different and it's pretty accurate. It's a neat tool and I enjoy learning a little bit about myself and the way my body sort of physiologically goes through the day and recovers and exerts itself.”