10 Notes to Know: January 11, 2021

January 11, 2021
Justin Ray
  1. Harris English made birdie on the first playoff hole to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions over Joaquin Niemann. English, who entered the week fifth on the PGA Tour this season in scoring average, picked up his first victory since 2014. English finished the week ranked third in the field in greens in regulation and fourth in strokes gained putting.
  1. English has been building towards this performance for some time: last season, he was one of four players on the PGA Tour to rank in the top-20 in both strokes gained tee-to-green and strokes gained putting. The others were Daniel Berger, Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson. English is projected to move into the top-20 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.
  1. English made only three bogeys all week, tied for the second-fewest by a winner in this event since the tournament moved to Maui in 1999. The only player to win here with fewer dropped shots was Jordan Spieth, who made only two bogeys in his victory in 2016. English is the eleventh straight American winner on Maui; the last winner from outside the United States was Geoff Ogilvy back in 2010.
  1. Niemann may have won in regulation if not for a missed birdie putt from six feet away on the 72nd hole. At age 22, Niemann was trying to become the fourth-youngest international player to win multiple times on the PGA Tour since 1980, bettered by only Sergio Garcia, Si Woo Kim and Rory McIlroy. Niemann played the last 37 holes of regulation in 16-under-par, making only one bogey in that span.
  1. Justin Thomas finished alone in third place, at 24-under-par. Thomas is now a combined 130-under-par in the PGA Tour’s two Hawaii events since 2017. That is 48 strokes better than any other player during that span (Marc Leishman is second, at -82). JT has finished in the top-five in four of his last seven worldwide starts.
  1. The Plantation Course yielded a scoring average of 69.3 for the week, the lowest in this event in 18 years (69.2, in 2003). Nine players finished the event -20 or lower, the second-most in this tournament’s history – eleven finished -20 or lower in 2003. The winning score of 25-under was the lowest at the Tournament of Champions since Jordan Spieth won at -30 in 2016.
  1. Bryson DeChambeau finished tied for seventh, five strokes out of the playoff. DeChambeau led the field in strokes gained off-the-tee, the fourth time he has led an event in that statistic since the pandemic hiatus ended last spring. While Bryson gained 6.52 strokes off-the-tee, his strokes gained total number for the week was 5.26 – meaning he lost more than a full stroke to the field on approach shots, short game shots and putts.
  1. The PGA Tour will shift Hawaiian islands this week, as the Sony Open begins in Honolulu on Thursday. This event has valued putting performance more than the typical PGA Tour event: over the last 15 years, winners of the Sony Open have had an average strokes gained putting rank of 3.9. The PGA Tour average for tournament winners in that same span is 13.5.
  1. Webb Simpson will be among the key players to watch next week. Simpson has averaged 5.31 birdies/eagles per round over the last five years at Waialae, most of any player in that span. Simpson has finished fourth and third in his last two starts at this event, missing a playoff by one stroke one year ago.
  1. Charles Howell III has one of the most intriguing career resumes at the Sony Open: in 19 career starts, he has finished in the top-ten a staggering ten times, but never won the tournament. Howell III has the best score to par of any player in the event the last five years (-58) and ranks third in scoring average at Waialae since 2010. Howell III is in the field this week.