BREAKING DOWN THE CHOKERS

Sometime around the leaders making the turn, the PLAYERS Championship turned into basically a three horse race. Tim Clark. Robert Allenby. Lee Westwood. Not exactly Tiger Woods on Sunday of a major(pre Y.E.).

Here’s a look at there back nine’s:

Robert Allenby
Allenby gave shot’s away on 10 by failing to get up and down then got it back at the par-5, which even though is easier a birdie was still below average for that hole. Birdie was out there on 12 and the hole played under 4 for the week, but not converting was not a huge loss. The thirteenth was a pretty easy par-3, so when Allenby wrote a 4 on his scorecard there it looked like Choke Job Bob had reared his ugly and familiar head again.

From then on, something strange happened. Robert Allenby played really well on the back nine of a major tournament when he was in contention.

Allenby poured in a 27-footer on 14 to lap the field there with a birdie. He gave himself another great chance at birdie on 15. Then he stuck it on the green with a 17-footer for eagle on 16. The putt came up a touch short as did his effort on 17, but you could hardly argue he hit a bad shot from 14-17.

After a good drive on 18, he wiped his iron out to the right. From there it was a little puzzling that Allenby putted, in my opinion, but he did that all day on similar shots from off the green(with not much success) so that must have been in Allenby’s comfort zone.

All in all, Allenby posted 2-under-par 70 for the day, which was great on a day when the course played to an average slightly under 74.2. Big Shot Bob has lost plenty of tournaments but this one was not his fault.

Tim Clark
This one is pretty obvious. I can’t remember what Clark was listed at this morning before play started, but I would guess better than 18-1 was out there on a player who had NEVER won on the PGA Tour.

Clark further tarnished the idea that the experience of winning tournaments is really meaningful in my mind by birdie 5 out of the 6 holes between 7 and 12, a stretch which really sets up well for his strengths. 3 of those approaches were right in Clark’s wheelhouse and he made them count.

After that, Clark played the final 6 holes in even par, which was all he needed with a 2-shot advantage. Clark made a huge 7-footer on 18, that made up for the similar length putt he missed on 16. Clark gets a repuation sometime for blowing some makeable putts, but surprising he is ranked 3rd this year, in putting percentage from 5-10 feet.

All in all, you can’t complain about firing the round of the day, 67, when the course played almost 3 shots harder today. For a point of reference, that round relative to the field, would have translated into about a 64.5 on the first 3 days.

Lee Westwood
Westwood has just the record of disappointment that Allenby and Clark have. His have just come in bigger tournaments. True to form, Westwood wasn’t able to hold onto his lead, although until a shot on 17 in the water it would be tough to argue it was his fault. With Allenby and Clark, playing way above their heads on Sunday, Westwood would have had to play slightly above average, too.

I doubt Westwood would say he had his best day out there and he certainly missed opportunities to score, notably on the par-5s, but he wasn’t awful either. He came to the 17th hole at EVEN par for the day. Had he not run into the hot Allenby and Clark, he could have been leading at that point, which obviously would have changed his 17th hole strategy.

Westwood knew he needed birdie-birdie finish, which was highly unlikely and that probably made him more aggressive than he would have been under other circumstances.

If he shot even par for the day, that would have been an average round for him, certainly not a choke, and still would have come up short.

2-over-par is certainly not a good round for Westwood, but it’s not necessarily black and white a bad round either. I’m just glad that Westwood, an extremely good player, will probably remain a decent option the next time he is in contention at a big tournament.


Unlucky or Unclutch?

The players listed above have been obviously categorized at unclutch due to their failure at various levels to win golf tournaments. But, is that true?

Assuming, Clark had a 1.5% chance of winning every PGA Tournament he entered, there is still a 4.5% chance he would go 0-205. That percentage (65-1) is probably pretty accurate for the past couple of years, but for his career seems a bit high.

Westwood was around 35% to win before entering yesterday’s round. Put into that situation five times and there is still a nearly 12-percent chance that Westwood goes 0-fer. Maybe these guys do choke, but the sample sizes aren’t big enough to say this is anything more than unfortunate luck.

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