Fleetwood the current king of consistency
One of the longest-running current streaks in golf will be tested again this week. Given the scoring volatility present at this week’s venue (233 double bogeys or worse were made last year at PGA National, second-most of any course all season), that could be a difficult task.
Tommy Fleetwood has played 32 straight PGA Tour events without missing a cut, the longest active run on Tour by a dozen tournaments. Collin Morikawa has the second-longest streak currently, at 20.
But for a global player like Fleetwood, this run of consistency goes even further than that. It’s been more than 600 days since his last missed cut anywhere – the 2018 French Open is the last time he failed to play the weekend in any event. Tommy is the only player currently in the top-50 to not have a missed cut in an official event in 2019 or 2020. The next name on that blemish-free list – Morikawa – is 51st in the Ranking this week.
Fleetwood has a long way to go to catch the recognized all-time PGA Tour mark, however. Tommy’s current streak is a mere 110 more tournaments away from tying Tiger Woods’ record of 142 in a row – meaning he could catch him if he keeps this up through the summer of 2025.
That sigh of relief you hear coming from Florida is the collective response of players not having to putt on poa greens this week at PGA National. Typically, this course yields 1.5 fewer putts per round than the California venues that precede it on the PGA Tour schedule. In 2019, players made 10% more putts between four and eight feet at The Honda Classic than they did at Torrey Pines South, and 12% more than they did at Pebble Beach.
It’s not like it will be easy this week, though. Last season, PGA National played as the second-toughest course on the PGA Tour among non-majors. It’s par threes played to an average of 3.15, ranked third-toughest on Tour overall. The course is annually among the leaders in difficulty in greens in regulation, rough proximity and fairway proximity.
Last year, the field at PGA National had more than 3,000 approach shots between 150 and 200 yards, the most of any course on the PGA Tour. The Tour leader this season in average proximity from 150 to 200 yards happens to be Viktor Hovland – by more than two full feet per shot. Hovland picked up his first PGA Tour victory last week in Puerto Rico.
NOTES ON PLAYERS IN THE FIELD
– Brooks Koepka finished tied for second in this tournament a year ago, just one shot behind Keith Mitchell. Brooks has not contended since his return from knee surgery, but the venue this week seems to fit his preference for more difficult golf courses. Four of Koepka’s seven PGA Tour titles came on courses that ranked in the top-six that season in average difficulty (three of his major wins and the 2018 CJ Cup). The seven courses played to a field average of more than a full stroke over par. Last year, PGA National played right at that number (+1.02).
– Rickie Fowler not only won this tournament in 2017, he’s amassed five top-15 finishes at The Honda Classic since 2012. His career scoring average of 69.71 at PGA National is the best of any player all-time with at least twenty rounds played. Now 25th in the World Ranking, Fowler will be playing for the first time since defending his title in Phoenix earlier this month.
– Coming off a tie for third in Mexico City, Erik Van Rooyen is in the field this week in Florida. The 30-year-old South African’s ascent in the World Ranking has been tied to improvement on the greens: he went from 105th on the European Tour in strokes gained putting in 2018 to 10th last season. He is currently the second-highest ranked player from Africa, trailing only Louis Oosthuizen.
– A salute is due to the longevity of Charles Howell III, who hit a milestone last week in Mexico City. Howell surpassed $1 million in official PGA Tour earnings in 2019-2020, his 20th consecutive season pulling off that feat. In the history of the PGA Tour, only he and Phil Mickelson have amassed streaks of 20+ years making $1M or more (Lefty has done it 24 straight times, with a chance to make it 25 this season).
– Vijay Singh was a surprise contender at this event last year, finishing solo sixth just days after turning 56 years old. He’s in the field again this week, making the 625th official PGA Tour start of his Hall of Fame career. Singh won this tournament in 1999, exactly one month after fellow competitor this week Matthew Wolff was born.
TIGER WOODS STAT OF THE WEEK
Tiger Woods has won 82 PGA Tour events. The players to finish runner-up in those tournaments have combined to win 539 PGA Tour titles. Twenty of those players have won ten or more times.