Sometimes to find the story you need to read between the stats. This year’s U.S. Open is no exception.
Here’s an example. A friend and I went to a hockey game. I was rooting for a cellar team – they were in last place. He was cheering for the mighty juggernaught. My team won 3-1, although we were heavily outshot in the stats. My buddy couldn’t figure out how his team lost. Before we left the press box I checked the stats.
“What are you looking for?” he asked. I replied “we beat you 9-3 in quality shots.”
“What are quality shots?” he asked. “It’s a stat I made up. It’s breakaways plus one timers” I replied. “We scored all three of our goals that way. That’s how we won. We got more high quality shots.”
Reading between the stats is the key to really analyzing how the game was won.
Cut to the fourteenth and fifteenth holes at Winged Foot. They are not the hardest holes on the course, but they are the hardest holes to the leaders and other serious contenders. Except Phil Mickelson.
On Thursday, David Howell was -4 when he got to fifteen tee. He was three shots clear of the competition.
He bogeyed. It triggered a four shot bloodletting.
On Friday Kenny Ferrie rocketed to -3 in the blink of an eye. He was three shots clear of the field at that time.
He double bogeyed fourteen and fifteen.
Steve Stricker, who ended up sleeping on the lead Friday night also bogeyed fifteen. Contenders Colin Montgomerie, and Geoff Ogilvy also bogeyed fourteen.
Let’s take a look at today’s contenders. Geoff Ogilvy bogeyed fourteen. Steve Stricker double bogeyed fourteen. Ian Poulter bogeyed fourteen. Padraig Harrington bogeyed fifteen.
But Phil birdied fourteen and parred fifteen. That was a two shot swing over the rest of the phield…oops, I mean field. In fact, Phil has played those holes a cumulative -1 for the week.
I’ll bet you a Krispy Kreme donut that 14 and 15 snakebite the leaders today and end up being the final arbiter of the match.
Or a Tal bagel sandwich, if you prefer.
THE NEW WEDGE
“I put in [my bag] a wedge that Roger Cleveland over at Calloway designed for me” Mickelson noted with a grateful grin. “I called him up from Winged Foot and said ‘Roger, I need you to design a 64 degree wedg. I need it with a certain amount of bounce, I’ve got hit a lot of high bunker shots out of the sand.’ Mickelson continued. “I have used that club extensively and it has saved me a ton of shots. I hit the shot on ten where it was a flop shot that went in the hole. Then I used it out of the bunker on sixteen out of the plugged lie that flew up and went in.”
Mickelson believes if he goes on to victory, his fourth in the last ten majors and his third in a row, it will be because of the new wedge. “The shot on ten I couldn’t have done with my L-Wedge, I had to use the 64. If I’m able to be successful tomorrow, I will give credit to that one particular club.