2023 Tour Championship: Round 1 Stat Breakdown
Pictured: Collin Morikawa. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The first day of the Tour Championship is in the books, and I think there are a few noteworthy takeaways.
I'm going to ignore last year's tournament for one second because it marked the first time we saw a similar trajectory take place in this tournament's history. However, there is always a lot of discussion about how far back a golfer can start while still being able to compete for the title because of the challenges the course presents.
We saw the crux of that answer from 2018 to 2021, when the first-round total landed at either five- or six-under and was highlighted by the fact that just eight players, over that four-year span, shot a 65 (or better) to begin the week.
I'm a little off with the data because not every contest had all 30 qualifiers make it through the opening round healthy. Still, during that stretch, we only received roughly 7% of the Thursday opportunities (within my model) to have a golfer separate themselves from the pack.
However, that all changed last season and into this year, when nearly 17% of Tour Championship qualifiers — including three on Thursday — landed under that five-under (or better) threshold.
That difference has shifted the construction of the tournament as more names are now within striking distance.
If you haven't already, you can find me on Twitter (@TeeOffSports). There, I provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user input to create custom golf rankings. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.
Tour Championship Leaderboard
Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee Leaders
We saw an assortment of production from those who landed in the top half of the field for Strokes Gained: Off-theTee. Eight of the top 15 names landed within the top 10 of the leaderboard, while four players graded 19th or worse. A similar presentation will be shown throughout the leaderboard, but I think this highlights that there are many ways succeed at East Lake.
Strokes Gained: Approach Leaders
Keegan Bradley did a lot of his damage with his short game, but Collin Morikawa, Adam Schenk and Tyrrell Hatton were the only golfers to render top-10 outputs with the driver and irons in round one. I think that helps explain why they finished the round ranked one, two and four for the 72-hole leaderboard.
Strokes Gained: Around-The-Green Leaders
Gaining massively around the green tends to allow golfers to spike production, or at least protect their round from going south. Sometimes, the ball striking is so bad that there's no overcoming it, as we saw with Nick Taylor, but I will always trust ball-striking metrics over any one-off output in these short-game areas.
Strokes Gained: Putting Leaders
If your ball striking and putting were sharp Thursday, you were very likely to work your way up the leaderboard.
Here's how the top 10 in that area fared:
As I always say, the pre-tournament data and weights you attach to your model matter heavily. I tend to trickle this new information into my sheet at about a 25% rate from what occurred on day one. That generates, and highlights, some in-form players who graded well pre-event, which is what you'll see in the list below.