How do you figure out who the best ballstrikers on the PGA Tour are? Here’s one method: Look at the greens-in-regulation leaders for the past five years. Note how many times a player appears in the top 10. The golfers with the most top 10s? They’re the best ballstrikers on tour.
We could have looked at the leaders in greens in regulation each year. However, as players could be injured or mired in swing changes during any given season, this doesn’t tell the whole story.
The best greens in regulation percentage in the past five years (excluding the half-complete 2014 season) was John Senden’s mark in 2010. That year, the Australian hit 72.49 percent of greens in regulation in 108 rounds.
Here’s a breakdown of who the best ballstrikers on the PGA Tour have been across the last five seasons, along with their average GIR percentage for the period of time.
10. Hunter Mahan – 67.76 percent
Five-time PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan is regarded as one of the best iron players on tour. Over the past five seasons, the Orange, California native has hit an average of 67.76 percent of greens in regulation.
Mahan’s best ballstriking year came in 2012 when he hit 68.97 percent of greens in regulation. He’s also one of the best drivers of the golf ball. This season, for example, he’s 63rd in driving distance (292.8) and 68th in driving accuracy (62.75 percent).
A player who can drive for show and putt for dough? It’s surprising the Ping staffer hasn’t won more…
9. D.J. Trahan – 67.98 percent
Clemson University grad D.J. Trahan is the ninth-best ballstriker on tour across the last five seasons. In 16 events in 2013, Trahan finished inside the top 10 one time thanks to his proficiency with an iron in his hand.
D.J. Trahan had his best tally in 2010 when he found 71.26 percent of greens in regulation. However, like many players on this list, he has been hampered by a balky putter—in 2013 for example, he was 145th in strokes gained-putting.
8. Bill Haas – 68.13 percent
Jay Haas’ son Bill is the eighth-best ballstriker on the PGA Tour over the last five years. Haas has won five times in his PGA Tour career, with his most recent victory coming in 2013.
Haas’ best ballstriking year came in 2010. He found 69.92 percent of greens in regulation. He was particularly good from 150 to 175 yards last season, hitting better than 72 percent of greens in regulation from that distance.
7. Justin Rose – 68.17 percent
Since 2010, Justin Rose has been the seventh-best ballstriker on tour when averaging his GIR numbers for that period of time. His ability to find greens has earned him more than $26 million in his PGA Tour career.
In 2010, the Englishman hit 70.34 percent of greens in regulation, his best ballstriking year in the last five. He was 53rd in strokes gained-putting during that season, as well, which led to two wins, the most in any one year of his career.
6. J.J. Henry – 68.58 percent
Texan J.J. Henry is the sixth-best ballstriker over the last five years. During that period of time, he has one victory and eight top-10 finishes.
J.J. Henry’s best ballstriking year among the last five is this one: He’s hitting 69.2 percent of greens in regulation. He’s particularly good from more than 200 yards out where he’s eighth on tour in greens hit from that distance, hitting 53.15 percent of greens in regulation.
5. Graham DeLaet – 68.71 percent
Canadian Graham DeLaet is the fifth-best finder of greens in regulation on average since 2010. He’s never won on tour, but he has finished second three times, earning more than $6.8 million in the process.
DeLaet is leading the tour in greens in regulation this season at 72.83 percent. It’s his best performance in the category in the last five years. He’s also a big hitter, averaging more than 303 yards off the tee this season.
Given this, a win can’t be far for the bearded Canuck.
4. John Merrick – 68.77 percent
John Merrick has hit nearly 69 percent of greens in regulation on average since 2010. He won once in 2013, a year when he hit 60.5 percent of fairways and 66.53 percent of greens in regulation.
Merrick’s best ballstriking year in the last half-decade was 2010. He hit 70.24 percent of greens in regulation that year. Unfortunately, he was 124th in strokes gained-putting during that season. Thus, he finished inside the top 10 just once.
3. John Senden – 69.42 percent
Australian John Senden has hit 69.42 percent of greens in regulation on average over the last five years. He has won twice on tour and collected nearly $18 million for his efforts.
John Senden’s best greens in regulation tally in the last five years was 72.49 percent in 2010. During that year, Senden was 14th in total driving but 130th in strokes gained-putting, which undercut his proficiency with the longer clubs.
2. Bubba Watson – 69.52 percent
When averaging his numbers for the last five years, Bubba Watson has hit 69.52 percent of greens in regulation for the period of time. Further, he’s won six times and earned more than $23 million in his career thanks in part to his incredible ability to work iron shots into greens.
The 2014 Masters champion, Watson is hitting 69.87 percent of greens in regulation this year. It’s his best GIR percentage in the last five years. Watson has also been, obviously, the longest hitter of the tee on average since he came on tour. Not a bad combination.
1. Boo Weekley – 70.26 percent
The only player to average better than 70 percent of greens in regulation for the last five years, Boo Weekley has found 70.26 of greens in regulation from 2010 through 2014.
The best ballstriker on tour, Weekley’s best year finding greens was 2011 when he hit 71.68 percent of greens in regulation.
What’s held the iconoclastic Floridian back? His flatstick. Thus far in 2014, for example, he’s 199th in strokes gained-putting, losing 1.1 strokes to the field per round.
No matter how well you hit the ball, it’s tough to compete when you’re handicapping yourself so significantly with your putter.
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