The Equalizer The all-around stat rewards competence, not excellence

February 09, 1998

Some might be surprised to learn that tiny Onida (pop. 800),
S.Dak., produced the second best player on the PGA Tour in 1997,
but that's what Tom Byrum (above) was last year, if you go by
the Tour's all-around statistic. "It was kind of neat," Byrum
says, "although I don't know if I really believe it."

The all-around is deceptive. The name leads one to believe it
identifies the best player, but the numbers frequently lie.
Consider: Since the stat was created in 1987, a player has led
the all-around and the money list in the same year just once
(Fred Couples in 1992). And what does the following tell you?
Only three other times has the all-around leader been among the
top 10 money winners. Bill Glasson, the '97 all-around leader,
was 22nd in earnings while Byrum was 42nd.

The formula for getting a player's all-around number is simple:
The Tour adds a golfer's rank in each of eight statistics
(chart, below) and the man with the lowest total tops the list.
Byrum's runner-up finish in the stat highlights its primary
flaw: The all-around rewards competence in all eight categories
rather than excellence in most of them. Byrum was only in the
top 10 in total driving and between 12th and 46th in six
categories. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, was in the top 10 in
six categories, but because he was 60th in putting and 180th in
sand saves, he was seventh in the all-around (chart, above).

Dave Lancer, the Tour's director of information, created the
all-around almost by accident. He needed an item for Tour News,
a weekly newsletter, when he added the stats. Voila! the
all-around. "It identifies the best statistical golfer," says
Lancer, "not the best all-around golfer."

That sentiment is shared by Byrum, who this year is 109th in the
all-around and 95th in earnings. "No question I'd rather rank
Number 2 in the world than Number 2 in the all-around," he says.

COLOR PHOTO: CRAIG JONES/ALLSPORT [Tom Byrum]

Bill Glasson Tom Byrum Greg Norman
ALL AROUND 1 2 3
SCORING 29 37 3
PUTTING 48 46 27
GREENS IN REG. 4 48 10
TOTAL DRIVING 6 5 17
DRIVING ACCURACY 86 12 34
BIRDIES 2 25 8
EAGLES 70 35 149
SAND SAVES 40 29 11

CATEGORIES ALL-AROUND MONEY
IN TOP 10 RANK RANK
1. Tiger Woods 5 7 1
2. Davis Love III 3 11 3
3. Mark Calcavecchia 3 5 14
4. Jim Furyk 3 16 4
5. Tom Lehman 3 4 19
6. 14 players tied at 2
20. Tom Byrum 1 2 42

State vs. State

Golf's 1997 contributions to the state economies in sunny
Arizona and chilly Michigan might surprise you.

Arizona

Jobs provided 13,000
Wages paid $176 million
Sales revenue $452 million
Taxes generated $69 million
Overall contribution $905 million

Michigan

Jobs provided 15,000
Wages paid $184 million
Sales revenue $506 million
Taxes generated $33 million
Overall contribution $980 million

Homeboys

Eight of the 10 Tour players with multiple wins in February went
to college in the West.

PLAYER WINS COLLEGE

Mark O'Meara 6 Long Beach
Corey Pavin 5 UCLA
Tom Kite 3 Texas
Bruce Lietzke 3 Houston
John Cook 2 Ohio State
Peter Jacobsen 2 Oregon
Steve Pate 2 UCLA
Craig Stadler 2 USC
Lanny Wadkins 2 Wake Forest
Tom Watson 2 Stanford

Charts by David Sabino.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)