PGA Tour: How to win with the season’s most important skills

US golfer Justin Thomas hits a tee shot from the 2nd hole, during the third round of the World Golf Championship, at Chapultepec's Golf Club in Mexico City, on February 22, 2020. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP) (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images)
US golfer Justin Thomas hits a tee shot from the 2nd hole, during the third round of the World Golf Championship, at Chapultepec's Golf Club in Mexico City, on February 22, 2020. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP) (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Webb Simpson was both the scoring average leader and a top iron player in 2020.. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Webb Simpson was both the scoring average leader and a top iron player in 2020.. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) /

SG Approaching the Green: 67.8

If there is one skill guaranteed to be money-producing, it’s this one. Since Strokes Gained Approaching the green was first calculated in 2004, the average correlation between it and the scoring average has been 68.49 percent.

That correlation has never dipped below 59.9 percent, the level it hit back in 2010. In 2020 Justin Thomas – a Player of the Year candidate — was the king of Strokes Gained Approaching the Green with a season-long score of +.997 strokes gained. He also had a 69.128 stroke average, third-best on Tour.

Others comprising the top 10 in this category were Collin Morikawa, Russell Henley, Tyrell Hatton, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Viktor Hovland, Cameron Tringale, Paul Casey, and Gary Woodland. Six of those 10 also finished among the top 20 in stroke average, with Simpson (68.978) at No. 1.

Thomas’ ascendency to the top of this category was no surprise. He ranked sixth in 2017, third in 2018, and second – behind only Henrik Stenson – in 2019. Since 2017, Thomas’ average advantage on the field in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green has been +0.886 strokes.

The correlation was equally strong at the opposite end of the scale. Of the 10 players ranking worst in Strokes Gained Approaching The Green, five – Martin Trainor, Bo Van Pelt, Nelson Ledesma, Sebastian Cappelen, and Rhein Gibson – also ranked among the 10 worst in scoring average.

None of the 10 worst in Strokes Gained Approaching the Green ranked above Wyndham Clark’s 130th standing in scoring average.