Golf By The Numbers: Bryson DeChambeau’s strokes-gained stats show major improvement

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 17: Bryson DeChambeau prepares to tee off on the seventh hole during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 17, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Golf By The Numbers: Bryson DeChambeau’s strokes-gained stats show major improvement

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Golf By The Numbers: Bryson DeChambeau’s strokes-gained stats show major improvement

If Bryson DeChambeau, the defending champion at this week’s John Deere Classic, reached into his golf bag and pulled out an abacus, then started sliding beads up and down the device as he walked off the tee, would you really be surprised?

The 24-year-old, two-time Tour winner has sparked conversation about his use of a compass to help determine the precise location of the holes in his yardage book. All of his irons are the same length because he believes using one swing enhances his consistency. His practice sessions involve more computing power and electronics than a Jay-Z show.

With so much attention paid to DeChambeau’s equipment and his approach to the game, a lot of fans may not appreciate how much he has improved since last season. The chart below shows that through the Quicken Loans National, DeChambeau has improved in every strokes gained category.

The most significant improvement in DeChambeau’s game has been from the fairway. Last season he was basically a Tour-average golfer with irons in his hand, ranking 105th in greens in regulation (65.48 percent). His strokes gained approach-the-green average was 0.02. This season DeChambeau ranks 17th in greens in regulation (70.28 percent). His strokes gained approach-the-green average has risen to 0.665. That means over the course of a 72-hole tournament, DeChambeau is now typically more than two-and-a-half shots better than the average Tour player based on the quality of his shots into greens.

Another sign that his ballstriking has improved is his improvement in going-for-the-green average. Last year when DeChambeau tried to reach par 5s in two shots or drive the green on par 4s, he hit the green 22.38 percent of the time (99th on Tour). He made birdie or better on those holes 51.75 percent of the time (ranked 152nd). This season, when he tries to reach par 5s in two shots or drive the green on a par 4, he ranks first in getting on the green (32.67 percent) and ninth in making birdie or better on those holes (66.67 percent).

DeChambeau’s putting also has improved. Last season his strokes gained putting average was -0.175, which meant he gave away shots on the greens. Through the Quicken Loans National, that figure has risen to 0.267. Instead of losing ground to the field due to lousy putting, DeChambeau is usually more than a full shot better than the average Tour player over the course of 72 holes.

DeChambeau’s driving and short game numbers are better this season as well. All those numbers combine to create a massive spike in his strokes gained total. DeChambeau has gone from an average strokes gained total of 0.243 last year (ranked 77th on Tour), to 1.623 this season (ranked 10th). That’s an increase of 586 percent over last season.

As the table above shows, just three golfers on Tour have made a more substantial percentage increase in strokes gained total than DeChambeau: Rafa Cabrera Bello, Scott Stallings and Bubba Watson.

As well as DeChambeau is playing, there is room for improvement. By Tour standards, DeChambeau three-putts too often. He ranks 169th in three-putt avoidance (3.57 percent) and just 126th in one-putt percentage (37.23 percent).

So the next time you watch DeChambeau, don’t let his uniqueness be the only thing you see. He very well will be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in Paris in September, not because he can use navigational instruments but because he is becoming one of the best players in the world. Gwk

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