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Distance and accuracy: Inside the numbers in 2011

The 2011 PGA TOUR season is in the books, and the team at ShotLink -- having evaluated the statistics -- has come up with some interesting numbers. Here's a look at some key statistics off the tee this year.

DRIVING DISTANCE

For the first time since 1980, when the TOUR began tracking driving distance, the TOUR average cracked the 290-yard mark. This year's average was 290.9 yards.

J.B. Holmes led the TOUR with an average of 318.4 yards per measured drive. Holmes also led in all drives (306 yard average) and percentage of drives at 300 yards or more (60.03 percent).

On the flip side, Brian Gay had the worst average in those three categories. He averaged 269.8 yards per measured drive; 266.8 yards for all drives; and his percentage of drives at 300 yards or better was just 4.66 percent.

The table below shows the number of players in various driving distance intervals in four select years. The numbers show the significant increase in length since 1980 when drives on TOUR were first measured. Back then, no player averaged more than 280 yards; in fact, no player in 1990 averaged more than 280 yards.

But in 2000, John Daly led the TOUR in driving distance, the only player to crack the 300-yard average barrier.

This year, 21 players averaged more than 300 yards off the tee -- and five of those players averaged 310 yards or better (Holmes, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Robert Garrigus and Gary Woodland, unofficially known as the Big Five). Last year, the only player to average more than 310 yards off the tee was Garrigus at 315.5 yards per measured drive.

 
Distance interval 2011 2000 1990 1980
More than 310 yards 5 - - -
300 to 310 yards 16 1 - -
290 to 300 yards 84 1 - -
280 to 290 yards 64 27 - -
270 to 280 yards 16 106 27 6
260 to 270 yards 1 52 101 53
250 to 260 yards - 8 59 84
Less than 250 yards - - 5 32

Here's a look at some driving distance categories:

Longest average in an event (all drives) -- J.B. Holmes averaged 321.6 yards with every drive at the Valero Texas Open. He finished tied for 11th that week, failing to break 70 in any round.

Longest average in a round (all drives) -- Bubba Watson averaged 332.6 yards with every drive during the third round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. He shot 68 that day, his low round of the week as he finished tied for 21st.

Most drives over 300 yards in an event -- Of Rory McIlroy's 56 drives at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitional at Firestone, 51 of them were measured at 300 yards or longer. McIlroy tied for sixth that week.

Most drives over 300 yards in a round -- Not surprisingly, McIlroy also led in this category, hitting each of his 14 drives during his final round at Firestone at 300 yards or longer. McIlroy shot a 3-under 67 in that round.

Longest drive of the year -- Dustin Johnson had a 463-yard drive on the par-5 seventh hole at TPC Boston during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship. Johnson's tee ball bounced off the cart path several times before coming to rest. Incidentally, Johnson ended up with par on the hole during a round in which he shot 75.

Winners and driving distance -- Bubba Watson was the only 2011 winner to lead the field for driving distance (measured hole). In fact, in both of Watson's wins this year -- the Farmers Insurance Open and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans -- Watson led the field in driving distance.

For the Full story, go to: http://www.pgatour.com/2011/r/12/01/shotlink-off-the-tee/

Photo - PGA Tour

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