The 2016 Race to Dubai is over. 47 events, 39 different winners and 29 countries visited. But which single performance was the best?
Whilst Brandt Snedeker’s nine shot victory at the Fiji International was the largest winning margin of the season and Padraig Harrington’s winning score of 261 at the Portugal Masters was the lowest of the year, neither were statistically the best.
Thanks to research from 15th Club, we have been able to compare the single best performances of the season, across all 47 tournaments, in comparison to the field’s average score.
Based on that calculation, the victory of newly crowned 2016 Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson at The Open Championship in July is the single best performance of 2016.
Stenson fired rounds of 68, 65, 68 and 63 to beat Phil Mickelson by three shots and win the converted Claret Jug, his first Major championship. That total of 264 is the lowest ever Open Championship, both in total and score to par (20 under). Compared to the rest of the field, Stenson was a stunning 28.6 better than average during his phenomenal week at Royal Troon.
That equates to Stenson beating the field by an average of more than seven shots per round.
“It was a great match with Phil,” the Swede said after his maiden Major victory. “It seemed like it was going to be a two-horse race, and it was all the way to the end. I knew he wasn't going to back down at any point, and in a way that makes it easier for myself.
“I knew I had to keep on pushing, keep on giving myself birdie chances and he wasn't going to give it to me, so I had to pull away. I'm just delighted I managed to do that with a couple of birdies at the right time on the final stretch.”
What makes Stenson’s achievement even more impressive is that Mickelson’s total of 267 in Troon was the season’s second best performance. The American beat the field average by 25.6 shots but could only manage his 11th runner-up finish in a Major.
“I don't remember being in a match like that where we've separated ourselves from the field by so many strokes.” Mickelson told the media after Stenson’s victory. “I don't think that's happened that I can remember.
It's probably the best I've played and not won - Phil Mickelson
“I think that's probably why it's disappointing in that I don't have a point where I can look back and say, I should have done that or had I only done this. I played a bogey-free round of 65 on the final round of a major, usually that's good enough to do it, and I got beat.”
Impressively Stenson has two of the top ten best performances of the 2016 season. Here’s a look at the top ten scores versus the field average:
28.6 Henrik Stenson, The Open Championship
25.6 Phil Mickelson, The Open Championship*
22.6 Hideki Matsuyama, WGC-HSBC Champions
22.2 Charl Schwartzel, Tshwane Open
22.1 Matt Fitzpatrick, Nordea Masters
20.4 Tyrrell Hatton, Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
19.3 Thomas Pieters, Made in Denmark
19.2 Thongchai Jaidee, 100th Open de France
19.1 Lasse Jansen, Nordea Masters*
18.7 Henrik Stenson, BMW International