Our annual number-crunching package looks at players who made significant moves – up or down – during the past year in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.
Ranking/movement: 55 (-1)
Why the rise? Overcoming an early season left wrist injury and improving his short game, especially bunker play. Hoffman fell one spot since last Jan. 1, but instead consider where he was after the first two months of the season. Playing with the bad wrist, Hoffman missed cuts in four of his first six starts and fell to No. 139 in the rankings on March 15. After taking five weeks off to heal in March-April, he still had no top 10s through July 4. But then he turned it on, posting five top 10s in eight starts in July-September, including a Deutsche Bank Championship victory punctuated by a closing 62. The run pushed him to fourth in FedEx Cup playoff points.
Check back to Golfweek.com every day through the end of the year to take a look at players who made significant moves – up and down – in 2010.
Good health and improved short game led to increased confidence and statistical improvements. He rose from 79th to 49th in scrambling, 130th to 87th in sand saves, 35th to 21st in putting average, 46th to 19th in scoring, 19th to sixth in all-around, 19th to seventh in birdie average and 103rd to first in bounce back.
At the start of the year, Hoffman referred to his bunker play as “borderline horrendous,” and he asked fellow pro Tom Pernice Jr. for tips. Pernice sent him to his short-game guru, James Sieckmann. Hoffman went from getting up-and-down from bunkers 46.47 percent of the time in 2009 to 50 percent this year. He calls that a “big change.”
He also said the “results are showing” because of hard work with his swing coach, Shawn Callahan.
Hoffman says: “Golf is a funny game. You get rolling and you feel like you can’t be stopped. But there’s times like the beginning of the year where you get on a bad stretch and don’t feel like you’re ever going to break par again. I usually play well on the West Coast, but I wasn’t healthy. . . . Now my wrist is healthy and I’m not worried about it. That has a lot to do with it.”
– Jeff Rude
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Ranking/movement: 174 (-98)
Why the fall? Though 2009 produced decent overall success – Letzig finished 98th on the money list and missed seven cuts in 28 starts, it ended with him cashing only one check in his last seven tournaments. Little did he realize that poor finish would carry over into early 2010, when/ as the University of New Mexico product finished inside the top 25 just once in his first 17 events. It wasn’t until late July, with a T-4 at the RBC Canadian Open, that he notched a top 10. He then added two more top 25s in his next three events.
Letzig said he is disappointed in his performance this season, but he’s not totally surprised given the club that has let him down – the ultimate scoring club, the putter.
Having ranked 37th in putts per round in 2009, Letzig was a dismal 101st this season, averaging nearly one more putt per round. That helps explain why he has missed 10 cuts in 26 starts and why he has taken a pay cut of $332,749 from the previous season.
To understand how poor putting has dragged him down, consider that Letzig in 2009 hit only 64.43 percent of his greens, yet had a scoring average of 70.71. In 2010, he has hit more greens (67.92) but scored worse (70.95).
While he alludes also to some off-course issues that have distracted him, Letzig concedes most of the blame is related to the flat stick.
Letzig says: “I’ve been just so streaky with the putter. When I don’t putt well, I don’t play well. I finally went to (Dave) Stockton Jr. It feels terrible, but I guess it works. I’ve got to give it time.”
– Jim McCabe