3M Open: Strokes Gained Analysis

Every fantasy sport has its set of data that helps to try to project what’s going to happen. In professional golf, that’s done by a metric called Strokes Gained. Created by Mark Broadie, a professor at Columbia, it measures a golfer against others on a shot-by-shot basis. That’s compiled then for daily, weekly and yearly stats, or however long your database goes for. The database we will be working with for PGA DFS covers about 18 months’ worth of tournaments. While making PGA DFS picks is typically about recent form, we like to understand players’ strengths and weaknesses to better understand where they might perform best. Let’s dig in.

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Strokes Gained Analysis

Strokes Gained Total

Criteria: Number of starts over 2.0 and/or percentage of starts over 1.5

  • Kristoffer Ventura has limited starts in this database, 11 to be exact, but in them, he’s gained more than 1.5 total strokes in six. Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson are the other three golfers that have accomplished this feat in at least 38% of their starts. Koepka has done this eight times, Tony Finau has done it seven and Casey, Johnson and Brian Harman have done it six times.
  • Over the last six weeks, three golfers have gained at least 1.25 strokes gained: Finau, Sam Burns and Si Woo Kim. 

Strokes Gained Tee to Green – Combination of Off the Tee, Approach and Around the Green

Criteria: Number of starts over 1.75 and/or percentage of starts over 1.25 

  • When we take out putting and just look at the tee to green, only five golfers in the field have done this in at least 50% of their starts: Casey, Finau, Johnson, Will Gordon and Erik van Rooyen. 
  • When we stretch out the metric to 1.75 strokes gained tee to green, Casey leads with six starts ending up in that criteria. Russell Henley and Ryan Armour have five, while a bunch of others have four, including Bubba Watson and Lucas Glover. 
  • Speaking of Watson, he’s done it three times in the last six weeks, as have Kim and van Rooyen.

Strokes Gained Ball Striking – Combination of Off the Tee and Approach

Criteria: Number of starts over 1.25 and/or percentage of starts over 0.75

  • When we take out around the green, Casey and Watson are again seen here. Much of the same names are, in fact, but Doc Redman joins Casey, van Rooyen and Finau as the only golfers to have averaged at least 0.75 strokes ball striking in 50% of their starts. Emiliano Grillo and Tommy Fleetwood are just outside at 48 and 47%, respectively.
  • Five golfers have at least 0.75 strokes ball striking three times in the last six weeks. They are Finau, Watson, Burns, Kim and Luke List.

Strokes Gained Short Game: Combination of Around the Green and Putting 

Criteria: Number of starts over 1.25 and/or percentage of starts over 0.75

  • Denny McCarthy leads this category again after another solid week around the greens at Memorial. He’s joined by Luke Donald, Rhein Gibson and Brendon de Jonge as the only four golfers to have gained at least 0.75 strokes in 50% of their starts.
  • Thirteen golfers have done it at least twice over the last five weeks. Some of them are Patton Kizzire, Charles Howell III, Russell Knox, Austin Cook, Dylan Frittelli, Branden Grace and Keith Mitchell. 

Strokes Gained Off the Tee

Criteria: Number of starts over 1.0 and/or percentage of starts over 0.5 

  • Peter Kuest, in his couple of starts on Tour, has done well off the tee, but sadly not anywhere else yet. Jhonattan Vegas joins Matthew Wolff, Will Gordon, Johnson, Casey, Redman, Mitchell, Fleetwood and Koepka as the only golfers that have at least .5 strokes off the tee in 50% of their starts.
  • Six golfers have at least 0.5 strokes gained off the tee in two of their starts over the last five weeks: List, Grillo, Johnson, Watson, Finau and Scott Harrington.

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Strokes Gained on Approach

Criteria: Number of starts over 1.0 and/or percentage of starts over 0.5

  • It’s no surprise to see Paul Casey as one of the best and most consistent iron players in the field, gaining at least a half stroke with his irons in 75% of his starts. Grillo, van Rooyen and Ryan Moore have all done it more than 50% of their starts. Cameron Tringale and Tom Hoge have done it in exactly 50% of their starts.
  • Si Woo Kim has been hot with his irons since the restart, gaining a half stroke four times, the only golfer to do so. Richy Werenski has done it three times, and a bunch of others are at two.

Strokes Gained Around the Green

Criteria: Number of starts over 1.0 and/or percentage of starts over 0.5

  • Eighteen golfers have at least one-half stroked gain around the green in 30% or more of their starts. A few names on this list are Frittelli, Henley, Alex Noren, Bill Haas and Kramer Hickok. 
  • Brian Harman has been hot in this category over the last six weeks, accomplishing it four times. It didn’t get him through the cut last week at The Memorial.

Strokes Gained Putting

Criteria: Number of starts over 1.25 and/or percentage of time gained over 0.25

  • I changed the criteria here, as I’m trying to find the golfers that get really hot with their putter and the ones that are also consistently gaining strokes with it. Denny McCarthy is undoubtedly one of the best and hottest putters, gaining over 1.25 strokes in 11 starts. No one else has more than six. Burns, Patton Kizzire, Patrick Rodgers and Andrew Putnam all have six. However, none of them have gained at least 0.25 strokes putting in more of their starts than Kristoffer Ventura and Harris English, both of whom have done it in at least 80% of their starts. Wyndham Clark has also done this in 70% of his tarts, while Vaughn Taylor has done it 68%.
  • Rodgers, Vegas, Burns, Putnam, McCarthy and Adam Long have all been hot with the putter since the return of golf, gaining at least a half as stroke with their putter in three or more starts.

For more info on this, check out my “Fit & Form Podcast” coming out within the hour (Tuesday at 9 a.m.) to help you with all of this information and so much more!

The Strokes Gained Sheet

Click here for the full sheet!


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Jason Rouslin
Jason established his roots in the littlest state that could...Rhode Island. But after 29 years of bitter cold, and only being able to play golf 4 months a year, upended those roots and moved to Florida. Now four years later, Jason is a husband to Sarah and father of two boys, James & Myles. A dog and more specifically Lab lover (Bella), he dedicates his time to serve as the lead of PGA content at Awesemo.com. In the time he is not diving into the PGA stats and covering this week's current tournament, you can find him researching and trading stocks, on the golf course, at Disney World, on a hike, or somewhere in between. Want to chat? Have a question about Golf/Stocks or anything else? Hop on twitter and give him a message @dfsgolfer23. You can also contact Jason by emailing [email protected].

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