A beefed-up Bryson DeChambeau has won the Rocket Mortgage Classic but was it just his power hitting that got the job done? Our man isn't so sure. Read Steve's customary look back at last week's golf action here...
“We’ve had 15 events on the PGA Tour so far this year and you may be surprised to see how unimportant a stat Driving Distance has been most weeks.”
Matthew Wolff began the fourth and final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a three-stroke lead but that had been cut to just one by the time he stood on the second tee. A scruffy drive led to a bogey five at the opening hole and both his nearest challengers, Bryson DeChambeau and Ryan Armour, made birdie threes.
That was as good as it got for my [320.0] pick, Armour, but Bryson was relentless, birdying holes three, four and six to go clear as Wolff flapped away his advantage. The 21-year-old holed a 50-footer for birdie at the fourth but followed that with bogeys at five and six and by the time DeChambeau made the turn, it looked like a done deal.
Bryson, a warm pre-event 6/1 favourite, was matched for plenty at [1.02] as victory appeared a formality but the birdies dried up on the back nine and when he made a mess of the par five 14th, going on to make a bogey six after finding water with his second shot, what had looked like being a damp squib of a finish, started to get exciting.
Having been four-over par and five off the lead through ten, Wolff found his feet on the back-nine and after his third birdie in four holes at the par five 15th he trailed DeChambeau by just a stroke. Bryson's price spiked up to around [1.5], from a low of [1.02], and long odds-on backers were sweating. They needn't have done.
After a decent drive at 16, DeChambeau hit a fairly poor second shot but it mattered not as he doubled his advantage with this 30-footer for birdie.
Bryson knew the importance of that putt and he went on to win comfortably by three with further birdies at 17 and 18. This was the America's sixth PGA Tour win, his seventh consecutive top-ten finish and it takes him up to number seven in the World Rankings
Wolff finished alone in second and after a disappointing level-par 72, Armour finished tied for fourth.
Having backed Armour at a massive price before the off in the outright market, as well as the place markets, and having layed him back on Saturday (as detailed in the In-Play Blog), it's been a decent week.
With the benefit of hindsight, I could have layed Armour at a lower price and I should have layed him again after his birdie at the first yesterday. His final round was obviously disappointing but I can't pretend I was confident once Bryson got on a roll.
What Have We Learned This Week?
Given Armour was backed because of his record at the Wyndham and because he'd won the Sanderson Farms Championship, both those events are worth continuing with, but we have to now add the 3M Open as an event that clearly correlates.
The 3M Open, staged at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota for the first time last year was won by Wolff, who beat Colin Morikawa and DeChambeau in a playoff. In addition, Adam Hadwin finished fourth in both events, Viktor Hovland contended in both and Troy Merritt finished inside the top-eight in both. The two tournaments clearly correlate very nicely.
Has Beefed-up Bryson changed the game for good?
Much is being made of Bryson DeChambeau's newly acquired extra length off the tee and rightly so. It's an incredible development but I'm not convinced it's going to have a detrimental effect on the game and I'm not even sure it's the reason he won last week. The old adage of drive for show and putt for dough still stands up.
We've had 15 events on the PGA Tour so far this year and you may be surprised to see how unimportant a stat Driving Distance has been most weeks.
Longest average measured driving distance in a win, recorded PGA Tour history:? Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) July 5, 2020
2020 @b_dechambeau, Rocket Mortgage, 350.6 yards
2005 Tiger Woods, The Open, 341.5
2016 Dustin Johnson, WGC Invitational, 341.3
As you'll see in the above tweet, DeChambeau hit it further than anyone's done before when winning on the PGA Tour and he only ranked 58th for Driving Accuracy. His added length and strength meant he could just blast his way out of the rough with short irons and still find plenty of greens (ranked 13th for Greens In Regulation) wherever his tee-ball landed, but up until last week, Driving Accuracy was a more important stat than Driving Distance on the PGA Tour this year. And there's not much in it still, despite the huge disparity in Bryson's driving stats in Detroit.
In 15 events throughout 2020 on the PGA Tour, the average Driving Distance ranking of the 15 winners is 28.86, whereas the average Driving Accuracy ranking is 30.2 and without any doubt, putting is far and away the most important aspect of anyone's game.
Bryson didn't win last week because he hits it miles. He won last week because he hits it miles and he putted very well. DeChambeau had a Putting Avergae ranking of seventh and 12 of the 15 PGA Tour winners in 2020 have ranked inside the top-eight for that stat. The average Putting Average ranking of the 15 is just 6.5 and the highest any winner has ranked is 29th - Sungjae Im at the Honda Classic.
It's extremely hard, and arguably even impossible, to predict when someone's going to have a good week with the putter but what those stats do show us, is that it's pointless backing poor putters, no matter how far they can hit it off the tee.
The PGA Tour moves to Dublin, Ohio, for the first of two events to be staged at Muirfield Village in the next two weeks - the Workday Charity Open, and golf is back in Europe this week too, with the Austrian Open. I'll be back tonight or tomorrow with my previews.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter
New on Betting.Betfair – Betslip
You can now bet without leaving Betting.Betfair with our brand new on-site betslip for Exchange markets. You'll see the Exchange back and lay prices at the end of articles - simply login and place your bets as you would do on the main Exchange site