5 Things: Pettersson wins Heritage behind putter
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Here are 5 Things to take away from Carl Pettersson's easy five-shot victory over Zach Johnson in the RBC Heritage at the par-71 Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C.:
1. PETTERSSON'S PUTTER: The winning formula for Pettersson at Harbour Town was simple: make putts.
And that he did, finishing first in the field in birdies (22), first in greens in regulation (69.4 percent) and first in putts per green in regulation (1.580). He also was T-5 in putts per round, with 26.
Miceli's Minute: RBC Heritage
His work off the tee was pedestrian at best: T-39 with 66.1 percent of fairways hit, 31st with a 279.1-yard average off the tee.
Some more impressive stats for Pettersson:
• It was his fifth PGA Tour victory, tying him with Jesper Parnevik for most on Tour by a player from Sweden;
• Over his last eight rounds on Tour - which includes a second-place finish at the Shell Houston Open two weeks ago - Pettersson has a stroke average of 67.8;
• It was Pettersson's third T-2 or better this season, after starting the year with a runner-up at the Sony Open in Hawaii;
• Pettersson had only seven top 10s in between Tour victories, his last coming at the RBC Canadian Open in July 2010.
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2. CHANGE IN STRATEGY: When a Tour player first teed it up at the Pete Dye-designed Harbour Town Golf Links, he likely had driver in his hand.
Those days are done, with players choosing to used hybrids off the tee at the 7,101-yard venue.
Arnold Palmer won the inaugural Heritage Classic in 1969 with a score of 283. In 1989, Payne Stewart won the MCI Heritage Classic, shooting 268, and in 2009 Brian Gay won with a 264, 19 shots better than Palmer's inaugural score.
“When Arnold Palmer won here, he used a driver on all the par 4s and par 5s,” Dye said. “Now they’re just talking about 3-iron.”
Long-hitting Robert Garrigus hit only four drivers all week and stuck to 3-iron most of the time.
Charley Hoffman was the top-ranked player in driving distance this week, with an average of 282.5 yards, which would have ranked only 70th this season on the PGA Tour. The field averaged 266.5 yards for the week at Harbour Town.
All of this despite the course being lengthened, with more changes to come in the next year or two. But will it matter?
“I don’t think it’s going to affect the way the course plays very much. I think it just gives the tournament more options,” 2011 champion Brandt Snedeker said of the changes. “They’re doing the right thing, trying to keep the course up to where it’s traditionally been played.”
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3. ALL ABOUT TIMING: It’s not often that a draw is so beneficial to one side or another without a dramatic weather change, but it was the case in the first two rounds at Hilton Head. Of the 71 players who made the cut at 3 over, 46 players came from those who teed off late Thursday and early Friday.
It was more dramatic when looking at the leaderboard. Of the top 18 players after the first two rounds, 15 of the 18 players came from late/early - including the top eight.
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4. TAKING A VACATION PAYS OFF: Luke Donald has held the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings for a total of 44 weeks - in two separate stretches - but after a poor finish at Hilton Head, Donald has again lost his top spot to Ulsterman Rory McIlroy.
“Probably only just blame myself,” Donald said of slipping to No. 2. “I just haven’t been as consistent this year as I was last year. Last year I was in contention every week. This year really two tournaments I’ve had a chance; the world rankings are about consistency and constantly piling up the points. I have only myself to blame.”
Since McIlroy relinquished his short hold on No. 1, he has finished T-40 at the Masters and taken some vacation time. Not exactly earning your way to No. 1.
Up next for Donald? He will play in New Orleans in two weeks, the Players Championship in mid-May, will go overseas to defend his title at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and then play the Memorial before the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in June.
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5. PACE OF PLAY: With plenty of commentary out there in the golf world about rounds taking too long to play, Sean O'Hair showed that you can play quickly and still score fairly well.
O'Hair was the first player off the tee Sunday and played by himself, completing his round in just 1 hour, 55 minutes.
He finished 68th at 10 over.