The Putting Statistic That Earned One Tour Golfer Six Hundred Thousand Euros More than Another in Four Tournaments
To follow up on my co-director at Pro Tour Golf College Lawrie Montague's article from last week (which had record shares from our website), Lawrie explained in detail what it really takes to earn a tour card on the Asian Tour and I thought I’d take it to the next step and share with you an interesting scenario.
In this scenario you have been a tour professional for five to seven years and you have just won yourself a tour card on a major professional golf tour.
And in this case it is a European Tour card.
What happens now?
I have selected two players who have done just that qualifying at last year's European Tour school in Spain in November.
One of them is Anirban Lahiri from India who finished in 17th place, and the other is Aussie Jason Scrivener who finished T18th one stroke behind Anirban.
Both players on the final day were on the cut line with a few holes to go and Anirban birdied 2 of his last 5 holes, and Jason birdied one of his last 3 holes to earn their playing privileges for this year.
Anirban is 28 years old and two years older than Jason, but both golfers turned professional at the age of twenty one after distinguished amateur careers.
He represented India at international tournaments and played in the Eisenhower Trophy which is also known as the World Amateur Team Championship in 2006, and he won his countries national amateur championship in 2006 and 2007.
He turned pro at the end of 2007.
Gaining an Asian Tour card in 2008 he has improved each year and by the end of 2014 and had won 5 times on the Asian Tour and amassed earnings of over US $2 million from 2012 to present.
So technically he’s a "rookie" on the European Tour, but make no mistake about it, Anirban is a successful and seasoned tournament professional.
Jason on the other hand hails from a country town called Mandurah which is 70 km south of Perth in Western Australia. He won the Australian Junior and Australian Junior Masters in 2007 and also represented his country in international tournaments, turning pro in 2010.
He attended the US Tour qualifying school at the end of 2010 but was unsuccessful. The same year he won his card at the Australasian Tour School and in the spring of 2011 gained playing rights on the Canadian Tour.
Jason has made steady progress as a tour player making many cuts but not contending in 2012, until he played the Perth International (which is co-sanctioned tournament between the Australasian and European Tour), and in which he finished just outside the top ten in that event.
He attended the European Tour School in 2012 and 2013 and while getting to the final stage on both occasions he failed to earn his tour card.
Both of these golfers are very accomplished tour players who rarely miss cuts, with Anirban winning his first three Asian Tour tournaments on home soil before winning the Indonesian Masters in 2014 by one shot with a spectacular eagle on the last hole.
Anirban with two more years experience as a professional under his belt compared to Jason is a proven winner and unlike many Asian Tour players he backed himself by going to the annual European Tour School to earn his card instead of hoping to win a co-sanctioned Asian/European tournament and win a 2 year exemption on the European Tour.
So what does this have to do with winning a tour card at a top tier tour school? It means that just because you gained a card through the qualifying process you are entitled to enter all the tournaments but not necessarily get to play in every tournament or even some of them.
To give you an idea of what I mean, eight tournaments have been played so far this year on the wrap around 2014/2015 European Tour and the golfers who earned one of the 25 European Tour cards on offer have each averaged playing in three tournaments so far.
Matthew Fitzpatrick the 2013 US Amateur Champion and low amateur at the British Open in the same year finished T10th at tour school but with sponsor exemptions has played seven out of the eight events.
Anirban because of his Asian Tour ranking has played 4 tournaments and Jason has played in 2.
After his 11th place finish in South Africa Jason entered every tournament but did not get a start in the next five.
The reason for this is that all the top golfers play the three desert swing events, as well as the Malaysian Open and also the True Thailand Classic which are all co-sanctioned so spots in these events are limited.
As the record shows Anirban has won two of the four tournaments he has played in (the Malaysian and Indian Opens) and is currently second on the money list with Euro 687,044.
Jason on the other hand has made the cut in both events and has banked Euro 23,986 and that includes an 11th place in the South African Open and a T45th in the Indian Open.
I think you will agree with me that is a huge difference in prize money won between these two golfers so far?
So as we like to do at Pro Tour Golf College let's look at the numbers between these two fine golfers to see where the discrepancy is and how Jason can put into place an action plan to turn his making cuts into making some serious money like Anirban Lahiri has.
The table below displays statistics of both golfers and I will highlight the areas that I believe make the difference between these two golfers positions in the Race to Dubai, Anirban is currently 2nd and Jason is in 127th position.
As the table above shows in driving accuracy Anirban looks like he has the edge but you will see that Jason is just in front in greens hit in regulation.
The two tournaments that Jason has played in (South African and Indian Opens) have had the narrowest fairways so far, and especially the South African Open where almost no one hit more than 55% of fairways.
Jason has a distinct advantage in scrambling and sand saves which has helped him to make almost all the cuts he has played in on the European Tour since 2012 which numbers nine tournaments.
An interesting statistic is that the top three in scrambling on the European tour this season Andrew Dodt (78.6%), Danny Willett (77.5%), Rory McILroy (75%) are all winners on tour this season.
Alex Noren (74.1%) and Bernt Weisberger (73%) are ranked four and five and have contended and finished in second spot.
The area that separates Anirban and Jason is without doubt featured in the two putting stats.
There is nearly a three percent difference in greens hit in regulation, Anriban's 76.19% to Jason's 78.7% but there is a clear 2 shots per round (or 8 shots per tournament) difference that Jason is giving up to Anirban in the Putts per greens hit in regulation statistic where Anirban averages 1.71 putts per greens hit in regulation per round and Jason averages 1.90 per round.
That is the major difference and a big reason why they sit 125 positions apart on the Race to Dubai.
When Jason’s back home in Perth he trains at Pro Tour Golf College and we have assessed him as a good putter who career wise averages 29.4 putts per round.
But so far on the grainy greens of South Africa and India he has struggled.
In the tournament being played this week (the Joburg Open) Jason opened with a seven under par first round where he had 27 putts but unfortunately for him followed it with a four over round on Friday and missed the cut by one stroke.
Anirban is currently ranked 34th in the World Golf Rankings after his two wins and has a full tour card until the end of 2017. Jason ranked 473 in the WGR has to first earn enough money so that when the re rank of players comes around in a couple of months he will be in position to enter and play in more tournaments later in the year.
The next step for Jason would be to earn enough to get into the final series where prize money is upwards of Euro 7,000,000 in each tournament .
And the final goal for Jason is to finish well inside the top 110 on the money list at the end of the season so he can retain his card for next year and avoid having to go back to the dreaded Tour Qualifying School in November.
Best of luck and good golfing to both golfers and we will bring you news of how they are progressing over the coming months.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague – Pro Tour Golf College
The Professional Golf Tour Training College