Weir: Ball Striking versus Putting

As part of the post on Mike Weir’s win at the Fry’s Electronics Open (whose trophy looks like it was inadvertently dropped), G4G readers have been discussing whether it is Weir’s ball striking or putting that has put him over the hump.

It is an interesting question (and one I’ll add to later this morning following his 11 am conference call).

If you examine Weir’s statsfor this season, you’ll find several points worth discussing. First of all, if his ball striking has improved, his GIR stat doesn’t demonstrate or support that idea. He’s 144th in GIR, which one would think would not indicate a big transformation in his game. Even though his birdie average isn’t especially high either, his overall scoring is quite strong (31st). His putting is middle of the pack at 59th.

So what does this say? Well it is a strong indicator that GIR isn’t the be-all stat. I’ve had discussions with both David Hearn and Jon Mills about this and about their rookie seasons on tour. Both appeared to have poor putting stats, but both said they didn’t putt badly. How does one reconcile that? It turns out both hit greens, but their iron shots left them in positions where it was tough to 2-putt, let alone make birdies. If you don’t do either, you head back to Q-School and the Nationwide Tour, where both are now.

So what does Weir do well? Nothing in particular, according to the stats, but he doesn’t do much badly either. His all-around ranking, taking into account all of his stats, places him at 33rd, interestingly exactly the same spot he sits after his win on the weekend.

This once again leads me to the conclusion that the Fry’s is only sort of a stepping stone for Weir. As he has throughout his career, Weir played well on a tough course in difficult conditions. Since he doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, but all elements of his game are solid, it appears Weir is built for challenging courses that leave others struggling. I wouldn’t expect him to win many shoot outs that end at 24-under par, but I have no problem seeing him win, for instance, a U.S. Open or at Bay Hill, tournaments that put an emphasis on all aspects of one’s game, not one particular area.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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  • So essentially, Weir scores more or less the same both in difficult and easy conditions, and given that his competitors are influenced by the elements more than he does, a typical Mike Weir round will stand out in difficult golf courses like the US Open? Now, that’s an interesting conclusion that deserves to be explored further.

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