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Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
The Renaissance Club, North Berwick, United Kingdom - Scotland 11 Jul 2019 - 14 Jul 2019
Thursday, 11 July 2019
Brandon Stone  (Getty Images)
Brandon Stone (Getty Images)

One year ago Brandon Stone shattered the course record at Gullane with a stunning closing 60 – then the joint lowest score round on the European Tour – to triumph in Scotland last year.

But is his record-breaking round the best in the three-year history of the Rolex Series?

We asked leading golf statistician Justin Ray to investigate.

By 15th Club’s Head of Content, Justin Ray

As well all know Stone shot a stunning ten under 60 on the final day to win last year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. But how did he do it? Let’s break it down…

Stone putted brilliantly that day, leading the field in strokes gained putting with 3.59 and needing just 1.17 putts per green in regulation – both staggering totals.

He was also brilliant off the tee, ranking third in the field in distance and second in driving accuracy.

Throw in terrific iron play – 15 greens in regulation, and 3.40 strokes gained approach (second-best in the field), and you have a recipe for an historic performance that nearly resulted in a score of 59.

The best of Rolex

Robert Rock shot the second round of 60 in Rolex Series history last week at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Something about the sublime play of geological surnames (Rock, Stone) – I wonder what they would do at Pebble Beach!

Jon Rahm’s 62 on Sunday to last week was the tenth round of 62 or lower in the young history of the Rolex Series. There have been the two aforementioned rounds of 60, one round of 61 – by Hideto Tanihara last year in Scotland – and seven different rounds of 62.

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How do we compare greatness?

When trying to determine the ‘greatest’ Rolex Series round, I wanted to compare the three closing scores of 62 or better to win one of these prestigious events, as those performances led directly to victories. 

Of course, Stone’s is the best on the scorecard by two shots, but was it more impressive than Rahm’s round last week, or Noren’s at Wentworth?

The simplest way of comparing these rounds is by using the metric strokes gained per round – how many shots a player is ahead of the field average over 18 holes.

In Rahm’s closing 62 at the Irish Open, he gained 6.85 strokes on the field average. In Stone’s 60, he gained 8.48.

But it’s Alex Noren’s 62 – on a day when the field average was 70.85 – that was best compared to his peers, at 8.85 strokes gained. A phenomenal number no matter how you look at it.

Noren’s performance ranks as the fourth best in terms of strokes gained against the field since the Rolex Series began in 2017. It’s not Rahm’s closing 62 last week, but Robert Rock’s Saturday 60 that tops the list of most strokes gained in a Rolex Series round, at 9.38.

Sergio Garcia’s opening 64 at last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge ranks second at 9.28, followed by Shane Lowry’s opening round 62 this year at Abu Dhabi.

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Which is the greatest?

Considering every factor, I’m going to have to go with Alex Noren’s 62 to win at Wentworth as the greatest round of the Rolex Series so far. 

He started the final round seven shots behind in a tie for 21st place. No other player that day shot better than 65, and he wound up needing nearly every one of those birdies to win – he finished two shots ahead of Francesco Molinari in the end. 

It’s tough to argue against Rock’s 60 last week – but give me Noren in this instance.

    

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WIESBERGER, BerndAUT18-22
2HEBERT, BenjaminFRA18-22
3LANGASQUE, RomainFRA18-20
T4JOHNSTON, AndrewENG18-19
T4PUTNAM, AndrewUSA18-19
T4STENSON, HenrikSWE18-19

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