Rough is back. Thanks Arnie!

In most of the PGA Tour tournaments played so far in 2005 the long hitters have been able to swing from their heels with virtually no concern for whether or not they ended up in the fairway. Not so at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational. This is not to say that distance didn’t help. The winner, Kenny Perry finished fourth in driving distance but distance did not win the tournament for him. He also finished fourth in fairways hit and, thanks to that accuracy, finished first in greens in regulation (GIR). What was the most important statistic in Perry’s victory? Once again, the most important statistic was the Gross Positive Score (GPS). Perry’s GPS was +5. The next best was Vijay Singh’s +7 (tied for 2nd) and after that, three players at +8, one of whom was Graeme McDowell who tied Vijay for 2nd.

What about that other biggie, the Gross Negative Score (GNS)? Number one was Retief Goosen who had 19 birdies and an eagle for a GNS of -21. Retief finished fourth because of his GPS of +16 but Retief had a lot to be proud of nonetheless. At the end of the first round it appeared that Retief had little chance of making the cut since he shot a 78. But Retief did not give up and took home $240,000 for his week’s effort.

Darren Clarke (T8) and Jimmy Walker (T19) both had GNS’s of -19 and Graeme McDowell (T2) and Aaron Baddeley (T5) both had GNS’s of -18. Thus if the GNS determined the winner Kenny Perry’s -17 would have tied him for 6th with Vijay Signh and four other players (Patrick Sheehan, T5; Briney Baird, T8; K.J. Choi, T8; and Adam Scott, T30).

The relative importance of the GPS is illustrated even more dramatically at the -16 GNS level which included Steward Cink (T8), Jonathan Kaye (T30) and Greg Owen (T44). While Greg finished only one stroke behind winner Perry in the GNS category he finished 15 strokes behind in net score (combination of GNS and GPS) and took home $15,000 to Perry’s $900,000.

How did Tiger fair for the week? That’s an interesting story. Tiger finished tied for 23rd with Fred Funk and five others ($42,142, with net scores of -1). The most interesting comparison is between Tiger and Fred. Tiger finished first in driving distance (299.8) and Fred finished last (249.0). An average difference of “only” 50 yards per hole. Tiger finished 67th in driving accuracy and Fred finished tied for 11th. Both had net scores of -1 for the tournament. Tiger’s GNS was -13 and his GPS +12. Fred’s GNS was -9 and his GPS +8. The other most interesting person in this group was Ernie Els. Ernie had a GNS of -15, just two strokes off the winners -17 but Ernie had a GPS of +14 compared to Kenny’s +5. Ernie was fourth in driving distance and tied for 58th in driving accuracy.

John Daly is always of interest and Bay Hill was no exception. John finished 69th out of 69 players who made the cut. John’s GNS was -13 (11 birdies and an eagle) so he was only four strokes behind the winner in this category. But John’s GPS was +27. He finished 7th in driving distance and tied for 62nd in driving accuracy.

So many, many thanks to Arnold Palmer. As many golf writers and golf announcers have pointed out for some time now just lengthening the courses does not penalize the long hitters, it helps them if the rough is so short that it does not penalize. With a meaningful rough, long but inaccurate drives are penalized as they should be. Fred Funk and many others proved it.


GNS (Gross Negative Score) – this statistic looks only at holes where
the player scored below par. This number is the total number of strokes
below par from all of the sub-par holes for the tournament.

GPS (Gross Positive Score) – this statistic looks only at the holes
where the player scored above par. This number is the total number of
strokes above par from all of the over par holes for the tournament.

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