Number-crunching 2011: Tringale up, Villegas down
UP: Cameron Tringale
Ranking/movement: +363 (No. 470 to No. 107)
Why the rise? Tringale, 24, played on the 2009 U.S. Walker Cup team and got his PGA Tour card through Q-School later that year coming out of Georgia Tech. Admittedly he lost confidence early in his rookie Tour season of 2010. As a result, he had no top 10s, made only five cuts in 22 starts, finished 179th in earnings and lost his card.
But he felt far more comfortable and managed his game better in ’11 after regaining his card through Q-School. That equated to four top 10s, 23 made cuts in32 starts and an increase of more than $1 million in earnings. Tringale’s confidence grew after his tie for fifth at the Valero Texas Open in April. He also improved from 184th to 47th in putting (strokes gained), 157th to106th in driving accuracy and 158th to 78th in scoring average.
Tringale’s work on his short game between seasons paid off. In ’11, he saved more shots around the green and three-putted a lot less because his speed improved. “I wasn’t very aware of whether a putt was downhill last year; stupid stuff,” he said. Also, his putting inside of 10 feet improved considerably, he said, because he lined up putts using a line on his ball. On putts from 5 to 10 feet this season, Tringale made 57.64 percent (58th), up from 43.79 percent (191st) in ’10.
Tringale lived with fellow California native Rickie Fowler in Las Vegas last year and Jupiter, Fla., this year and says Fowler’s confidence has rubbed off. “It’s nice playing a lot with a top-50 player and seeing (that) the gap is pretty manageable,” he said.
Tringale says: “(Improving) was just about being more comfortable. Coming into the Tour and the world straight out of college, it kind of kicked me in the face a little bit. I didn’t feel myself out there. I didn’t feel I was playing with the right intention. I got to the point where I was just trying to make cuts. Out here, that isn’t going to do anything for you. This year, after making a couple of cuts early, I wasn’t worried about the reshuffle. I was freed up, and the success built.”
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DOWN: Camilo Villegas
Ranking/movement: -154 (No. 20 to No. 174)
Why the fall? Coming off a 2010 season in which he finished 16th in PGA Tour earnings, Villegas got off to a horrible start in ’11. His first finish better than 30th place didn’t come until June. He finally found some good form after the PGA Championship, notching three of his four top-10 finishes. All told, he failed to make the cut 11 times (compared with twice in ’10) and, without all those weekend chances, earned $1.8 million less.
Villegas, who turned 30 on Jan. 7, said his ballstriking and putting were poor the first half of last season. That shows in his season statistics. His scoring average rose from 70.42 to 71.02. He hit fewer fairways (61.66 percent to 57.98 percent) and fewer greens in regulation (66.05 percent to 62.50 percent).
The Colombian said he regained confidence in the summer after finally seeing shots go where they were intended. He clearly was coming too much from the inside with his swing and flipping with his hands. Later in the season, he played with his hands a little closer to his body and the club more on plane on the downswing. Hence, he went from hitting hooks early in the year to more fades later.
Villegas says: “It’s a funny game, man. The beginning of the year was pretty ugly. It was a little bit of everything. It was little things. I’m not a technical guy. I don’t believe in big changes. To me, it’s about little feels. (Slumps are) the nature of the sport. You see it with all the guys. They have good years and then slow down a little. Hopefully that was my slowdown.”
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Other number-crunching stories
• PGA Tour (Dec. 19): Webb Simpson leaps forward, while Jim Furyk falls back. Story.
• LPGA Tour (Dec. 20): Stacy Lewis leaps forward, while Ai Miyazato falls back. Story.
• PGA Tour (Dec. 22): Gary Woodland powered his way up the rankings, while Sean O'Hair dipped considerably. Story.
• LPGA/Futures Tour (Dec. 23): Tiffany Joh jumped significantly in 2011, while Song-Hee Kim had a year to forget. Story.
• PGA Tour (Dec. 24): Kevin Streelman used a no-nonsense approach to move up the rankings while Heath Slocum struggled in 2011. Story.
• European Tour (Dec. 25): Thomas Bjorn surprised a lot of people with three wins in one season to move ahead, but Nick Dougherty and Oliver Wilson didn't have the same fortune. Story.
• Nationwide/Futures Tour (Dec. 26): Danny Lee had a comeback year in 2011, but Kathleen Ekey fell further backward. Story.