The numbers behind Tiger Woods’ struggles with driver

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The numbers behind Tiger Woods’ struggles with driver

PGA Tour

The numbers behind Tiger Woods’ struggles with driver

Tiger Woods mentioned Tuesday at Riviera Country Club that he didn’t drive the ball well at Torrey Pines in the Farmers Insurance Open. That is true, but it certainly wasn’t his worst outing. It’s been a while since Tiger has driven the ball like … well … Tiger.

The former World No. 1 actually had a positive strokes gained: off-the-tee of 0.190 at Torrey Pines, meaning he gained a statistical advantage against the PGA Tour average. He averaged 302.5 yards but hit only 30.36 percent of fairways.

Woods has not excelled off the tee for most of the past decade in seasons in which he has been able to compete, with the exception of 2012. That year Woods ranked 14th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee (0.553).

Woods’ hasn’t been close to his once-dominant, top-10 self off the tee since 2007. In general, he has lost distance and slid down the distance rankings as he has aged (and his back and other injuries have required frequent treatment and breaks from the Tour). His percentage of fairways hit has dropped more than 15 percent since his peak of accuracy.

But don’t think that means Woods hasn’t been able to win without his best tee shots. He won five PGA Tour events in 2013 while compiling a strokes gained: off-the-tee average of -0.142, meaning he gave up more than a combined half a stroke to the field over the course of four rounds.

Other statistical driving highlights from his career:

  • Woods’ longest-hitting season was 2005, in which he won five times with a distance average of 316.1 yards, second best on Tour that year.
  • Woods was most accurate off the tee in 1999 (71.31 percent of fairways) and 2000 (71.22 percent).
  • His best strokes gained: tee-to-green average was 0.803 in 2006, which ranked him a career-best third in the category in a year in which he won eight times.
  • Woods won multiple events in all but one season since 2004 in which he had a positive strokes gained: off-the-tee average.
  • Woods did not win in four of the five seasons in which he had a negative strokes gained: off-the-tee average.

Following is a look at Woods’ main driver stats since he turned pro in 1996. The strokes gained: off-the-tee category was introduced in 2004, so in the years before that, just his driving distance and accuracy are provided.

(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

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