Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Weighing in on Laying Up...

Everyone else has given their criticism or defense of Rickie Fowler's lay up on TPC Scottsdale's 15th hole, but I'm not sure anyone has poked the hole in what I saw as the total mathematical misfire in Fowler's brain as he assessed his situation.

Fowler's said afterwards that considering he was only one shot back at the time, he figured that even if he didn't make a birdie on 15, there were multiple birdie opportunities coming in, including the short 17th. Makes sense.

However, by that same logic, shouldn't he be assuming there was a decent chance that Hunter Mahan would birdie that same 17th hole as well? If that had happened, Rickie's failure to make a 4 on the 15th would leave him two behind Mahan with three holes to play.

I'm also not sure I buy the math about laying up being the higher percentage birdie for Fowler, despite Waggle Room's attempt to sell me on it.

Now beware, I was an English major... But from 200+ yards, Fowler hits the green 51% of the time (49th on Tour this year). From the sand, he gets up and down half of the time. Put those two stats together and it means if Fowler goes for the green ten times, five times he's got no worse than a two-putt for birdie and another two (or three) times he's got a sandy birdie. That's seven out of ten.

While Fowler is pretty good with a wedge from 80 yards, he's not getting up and down 70% of the time from there. No way.

But what the attempt from 200+ does bring into play is the water. And the big number. And the chance that Fowler ultimately loses the tourney on the 15th hole. But when it was all said and done, the truth is he lost it there anyway.


courtgolf said...

SINCE we're taking the math approach...maybe Fowler DID run those percentages and after making birdie on Thursday and Friday, then par on Saturday - maybe he figured his 50% was up...ok...maybe not. :-)

Erik J. Barzeski said...

Pros often save par after dunking a shot on a par five. He drops and gets up and down. And even if he'd made six, he'd still have finished T2 and earned enough money to keep his PGA Tour card for next year.

James said...

As somebody who has played golf with Mr. Smiley, otherwise known as Mr. Lay-up, I can't wait to remind him of this posting the next time he's got 225 yards to the green on a par 5. Although the stakes are closer to $1 than $1 million, we'll see how he holds up. Of course, I doubt his chances of birdie are the same 70% but I want to see if he has seen the aggressive light.