Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard – particularly from certain announcers or commentators – about how great Jordan Spieth is from 15-25 feet. And the statistic is true: Jordan has ranked very highly (often #1, currently #2) in that stat on the PGA Tour. It’s right here if you want to have a look: http://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.02328.2015.html .

But… we rank 15-25 feet as an SV① skill. We say that there is almost no separation to be had in this area. Yet… Jordan Spieth has had a pretty great year, that’s undeniable. And he’s been one of the leaders in the 15-25′ category all year too, so… maybe we missed something? Maybe there’s something to this?

Let’s take a look.

Let’s first look at the statistic itself. Jordan has made 49 of 183 attempts. That’s a 26.78% conversion rate. #50 on the list is Harris English with a “paltry” 17.80%. He’s made 42 of 236. Kyle Reifers is T100 and has made 38 of 236 (16.70%). 10% sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

Heck, if #100 Reifers converted his 236 attempts at Jordan’s rate, he’d make an extra 25 putts (236*0.2678 = 63). If #5 English converted at Jordan’s rate, he’d make an extra 21 putts. That sounds like a lot! But… consider this. Harris English has played 85 rounds, and Kyle Reifers 86. That means each would gain only about 1/4 of a stroke per round – or one stroke per tournament (or half a stroke when they miss the cut) – if they putted as well as Jordan Spieth putted. That doesn’t sound like very much.

When looking at statistics, it’s important to do some basic analysis. This is the type of analysis that the commentators seem to be hoping you don’t do. They’re hoping you don’t expose how silly their stats are. They just want to sound smart, when even a little bit of research begins to punch holes in the theory.

We’ve plotted the ranking of players ranked 1-30 in the “15-25′ Putting” category against their ranking in two other categories. First, their scoring average:

Scoring Rank vs. 15-25' Putting Rank

Hmmm. How about their position on the money list:

Money List Rank vs. 15-25' Putting Rank

No good? Okay, surely the guys who putt well from 15-25 feet are at least some of the best putters on the PGA Tour, right? Let’s take a look at their Strokes Gained Putting:

Strokes Gained Putting Rank vs. 15-25' Putting Rank

Hmmmm.

Here is all of the data.

15-25′ Rank

Scoring Avg. Rank

Money List Rank

Strokes Gained Putting Rank

Branden Grace

1

33

8

Jordan Spieth

2

1

1

5

Jamie Donaldson

3

109

99

36

Ernie Els

4

174

159

180

Hunter Mahan

5

117

71

33

Jimmy Walker

6

14

6

1

Brooks Koepka

7

3

16

3

Whee Kim

8

104

120

114

Trevor Immelman

9

194

214

167

Camilo Villegas

10

136

145

62

Zack Sucher

11

190

212

70

Hudson Swafford

12

71

107

29

Scott Pinckney

13

100

72

32

Ian Poulter

14

19

52

18

Lee Westwood

15

42

102

11

Brian Stuard

16

134

127

76

Matt Jones

17

90

53

34

Billy Hurley III

18

101

144

44

Patrick Reed

19

25

19

13

Colt Knost

20

54

85

41

Blayne Barber

21

116

119

45

Jonathan Byrd

21

95

167

88

Bryce Molder

23

51

98

15

Kevin Na

23

23

29

72

Russell Henley

25

32

35

6

Steve Wheatcroft

26

105

97

31

John Huh

27

97

132

30

Andrew Putnam

28

117

150

175

Henrik Stenson

29

8

32

25

Rickie Fowler

30

46

9

65

Average

15.4

80.0

92.1

51.0

Is this all there is to it? No. Rankings are not the absolute best way of measuring ability. After all, there was about a 10-percentage-point drop-off from #2 to #50, but only about 1% from #50 to #100. Also, though we’ve included the R2 values here, the inclusion of only the top 30 in the 15-25′ putting rank skews this slightly. Even still, the data is telling.

It just takes a tiny bit more than a quick glance to notice one guy who is having a great year being at the top. Jordan is a good player only a little bit because of his 15-25′ putting… and a lot more because of his other skills.

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