I have spent the last four days admiring Rory McIlroy’s performance in winning the British after basically leading from start to finish. Apart from a couple of close moments, he looked odds on to win his first Open for most of the four days. With such a complete performance, you would think that he would dominate most of the stats too. However, one or two of the stats make for surprising reading (and maybe lead to my tongue-in-cheek post title;) )
Fairways and Greens
Most people would say that on a links course like Hoylake with some horribly difficult rough barely off the fairway and right next to the green, you would want to keep it pretty tidy off the tee. All those players apparently putting two irons in their bags this week must count for something, right?
So how does Rory do?
Well, he hit 66.07% of fairways which isn’t too bad. After all, it tied him for 20th in this particular category along with a certain Tiger Woods who was as accurate off the tee, but managed to finish 23 shots back! How did that happen? And the most accurate player off the tee, Chris Rodgers with nearly 4 out of 5 fairways hit also managed to finish 20 shots adrift of Rory (despite hitting as many greens as Rory too.)
In terms of Greens hit in Regulation (GIR) Adam Scott was pushing 80% here which should have put him close to the lead. Actually, it did, with Scott finishing on twelve under, just 5 shots back. McIlroy actually hit 68% of greens in regulation (tied for 25th)which is giving a fair bit of an advantage to the world’s number one player, Scott. Just imagine if a player with a outstounding short game could have done if he hit more greens that McIlroy? Actually, Mickelson hit 73.61% of GIR, tied for 6th. So how did he finish 12 shots behind the Irishman?
Birdies and Eagles
Actually, Scott made as many birdies through the week as McIlroy (20) and Rickie Fowler made 23! So just what did McIlroy do better than everyone? Because if this post so far sounds as if I am surprised he won, believe me this isn’t the case. I was delighted for him and I thought he really looked a notch above everyone else all week.
On the greens, he was excellent. He tied for third in one putts and the player who lead (Matteo Manassero) gives up so much distance to him that he was always going to struggle. and Rory was near the bottom of the list in terms of bogeys, with just seven all week.
The right Shot at the Right Time
But for me, the difference between Rory and the rest was really when he pulled those great shots out of the bag. The best example was probably his closing stretch on Saturday. It looked like the field was closing in on him on the back nine. How much better timing do you want to nail two eagles in three holes? Especially when nobody is making eagle at those two holes. I could just imagine how disheartening that would be for the rest of the field. Comparisons to Tiger at his best were being shouted from all sides.
Just How Good is Rory?
Inevitably this week everyone is counting how many majors the gifted Irishman may bag over the coming years. Of course, the correct answer is “who knows?” I believe the professional golf has never been so deep in terms of talent. Being the best over four days just once in a lifetime is a huge achievement. Rory has already done this three times. One thing is for sure, the next few years should serve up some outstanding golf-what more could you ask for?