Up and Down: A Void to Phil

Up and Down: A Void to Phil

This article is part of our Up and Down series.

While the PGA Tour is on pause, Len Hochberg will periodically examine two golfers – one who was playing well when play was halted (Up), and one who was playing poorly at the same time (Down). 

He will pinpoint the reasons these players are where they are in the FedExCup Standings and offer some numbers to keep in mind when the season resumes. FedExCup points aren't generally used as a guide, but they are a good indicator of where a golfer stands in relation to others on the PGA Tour this season. He will also look at perhaps the purest stat of all – greens in regulation – as well as birdie or better percentage, an integral component of DFS scoring. 

In this edition: Brandt Snedeker and Phil Mickelson.

PLAYING WELL

Brandt Snedeker

FedExCup Standings rank: 67

Before the year ends, the nine-time PGA Tour winner will turn 40. It has been almost two years since his last win, and the one-time No. 4-ranked player in the world now sits 48th. That's far from great, but Snedeker fell on some lean, injury-filled times that saw him nearly fall out of the top 100 early in 2018. 

Snedeker did bounce back and won the Wyndham Championship later that year, and since then he has been remarkably consistent – if we can call it that. He has spent virtually the entire time ranked in the 40s in the OWGR, notching the occasional top-10 to keep from falling. Still, there is reason to appreciate Snedeker's throwback game, which allows him to survive in this era of big hitters becoming even bigger hitters.

Snedeker's string of quality play actually extends back to the end of last season, when he parlayed a pair of top-6s in the first two playoff events into his first Tour Championship appearance in three years. This season, Snedeker has four top-25s in eight starts, including a tie for third at Torrey Pines – his signature track, where he has two wins and two runners-up through the years. His final appearance before the hiatus came at the WGC-Mexico Championship and he tied for 22nd, giving him three top-25s in five starts in 2020.

That may not sound like all that much – good results, though not great – but Snedeker continues to impress by doing so much with so little distance.

A Look At The Stats

Snedeker is barely averaging 290 yards off the tee. He's also inaccurate, and that adds up to a ranking of 196th in SG: Off-the-Tee. It's a semi-miracle a guy can even make a cut starting that far behind his competitors. Wait, it gets worse. Thanks to his woes with the driver, Snedeker sits outside the top 100 in greens in regulation. He has always made his money with his short game, and this season is no different. Snedeker is third in SG: Around-the-Green and 20th in SG: Putting. It may be one of his better performances relative to the rest of his game, and you can see his BOB ranking is pretty solid. Imagine where Snedeker would be if he were just a little longer off the tee. Keep him in consideration on the shorter tracks. He's bound to be available at a very favorable price.

Greens in regulation rank: 105
Birdies or better percentage: 30

SITTING DOWN

Phil Mickelson

FedExCup Standings rank: 89

It's hard to be believe, but Mickelson is less than a month away from turning 50 years old. Of course, he has stated he has no intention of leaving for the Champions Tour – imagine how much he would clean up against the older guys – as long as he continues "to hit bombs." Hitting bombs is great, and there's definitely something to be said for hitting the ball far, but everyone knows that bombs need to hit their target to be effective. Mickelson has been wildly inaccurate with his driver, which isn't all that terrible these days, but he's also off-center with his irons, which is a real problem.

A few months back, Mickelson was coming close to falling out of the top 100 of the OWGR for the first time in almost three decades – an absolutely remarkable run of success. But then he surprisingly found podium finishes on consecutive weeks – a T3 in Saudi Arabia and a solo third at Pebble Beach – to jump back up to his current No. 63 ranking. Aside from those two weeks, though, he has been off his game for some time now.

Mickelson has teed it up nine times on the PGA Tour this season, and he missed the cut five times. Ouch! His Pebble Beach result is not only his lone top-25, it's his only made cut in five PGA Tour starts in 2020. Double ouch!

We'll see Mickelson on Sunday, along with Tom Brady, squaring off against Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning in a charity matchup. Like last time the two golf titans squared off in a special event, Mickelson may very well again get the best of Tiger. It seems that beating Woods, in any format, means the world to Mickelson. But the numbers over the past year suggest there will be more leans times for him when PGA Tour play resumes.

A Look At The Stats

For all the talk of hitting bombs, Mickelson ranks only 76th on Tour in driving distance. And with his accuracy ranking a dreadful 182nd, he's well outside the top 100 in SG: Off-the-Tee. In fact, he's outside the top 100 in five of the six strokes-gained categories. Yes, that includes putting, where he's ranked 136th. The only thing keeping Mickelson relevant is his still-elite wedge game. He's ranked 20th in SG: Around-the-Green. He needs that, because his GIR numbers are awful, and as you can see it helps him still make a fair share of birdies.

Greens in regulation: 174
Birdie or better percentage: 43

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he contributes to Sports on Earth and was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years.
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