There are a few ways to win on the PGA Tour, statistically speaking. You can drive it well, ball-strike the hell out of it, make a few putts and outlast other players who are having a hot putting week, but not hitting it quite as well; OR you can putt your brains out, hit it okay and sneak out of town with the trophy.
Cameron Smith opted for neither this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Instead, Smith drove the ball like a god, ironed it like a stud and putted unconsciously to post the lowest score in relation to par in PGA Tour history (34-under par) and hold off a 19-under par weekend from the top-ranked player in the world, Jon Rahm.
Smith led the 38-man field of 2021’s PGA Tour winners in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee (+4.0), picking up nearly a full stroke per round on a Kapalua Plantation Course that, by its design, limits the gap between good and bad drivers due to its massive fairways. He finished seventh in both Strokes Gained: Approach (+2.7) and Strokes Gained: Chip/Pitch (+1.7), but it was on Kapalua’s greens that Smith really left his mark, picking up +6.5 strokes on the field average in Strokes Gained: Putting.
- “It was pretty crazy. Playing with Jon over the weekend, I felt like I needed to make a birdie to keep up with him or stay in front,” Smith said. “Just lots of good golf. The putts kept going in. That was the key over the weekend, I think, just to see the putts go in.”
Oftentimes, we think of the old adage of “drive for show, putt for dough” is assumed to be an either/or proposition, but Cam Smith and his luscious mullet play by their own rules. This was Smith’s fourth official PGA Tour victory, but just his second on his own; he’s been a part of two Zurich Classic of New Orleans titles, the lone team event on the schedule. His other solo victory came an puddle-jumper away on Oahu at the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2020, so I guess you can just call him an Island Boy. (Sorry)
Strokes gained can seem like a complicated concept, but it’s based on a pretty simple premise: how many shots should you expect to require to get the ball in the hole from various spots on the course. And what’s even better: you don’t even need to know those figures because they are baked into the stat itself.
Using tools like SwingU Versus, strokes gained becomes even easier. By simply keeping track of your score based upon different inputs that require seconds of your time to plug in, you’re able to see where you’re gaining or losing shots against par. From there, the next step is simple: identify where you’re costing yourself the most strokes and improve upon that facet to see the fastest improvement in your game.
That’s why Rory McIlroy has heralded the stat as “the best stat, by far, that has come into our game for the last … well, ever, really.” See how strokes gained can help your game with SwingU Versus.