The Top 10 most improved players on the PGA Tour in 2021/22

Rory McIlroy, Tour Championship,Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy, Tour Championship,Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /
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PGA Tour, 2021-22 PGA Tour Season, Golf, Rankings, Rory McIlroy
Tommy Fleetwood, BMW PGA Championship,(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

1. Tommy Fleetwood (1.393)

On the surface, Fleetwood seems like an odd choice to make the single biggest season-to-season improvement in stroke average. He’s a 31-year-old veteran, hardly in the developmental stage, and his 2021-22 season was not particularly noteworthy.

Fleetwood’s highs were notable, if not exceptional. He tied for fourth at both the Scottish and British Opens and tied for fifth at the PGA Championship.

He earned $2.87 million, more than $1 million off his personal record but more than he earned during back-to-back poor 2020 and 2021 seasons.

What we have, then, from Fleetwood in 2022 is a comeback story. It begins with his 69.653 stroke average, nearly 1.40 strokes better than his 71.046 average for 2020-21.

It was Fleetwood’s best scoring performance since 2018 when he averaged 69.342.

How did Fleetwood return from recent obscurity to what passed for his glory days of a half dozen years ago? Here are his numbers.

                                            2020-21                2021-22                Change

Off The Tee                        -0.134                    0.027                     0.161

Approaches                         0.051                     0.181                     0.130

Around the Green              0.292                     0.467                     0.175

Putting                                -0.137                    0.376                     0.513

Simply put, Fleetwood reversed a one-season putting slump. Historically capable on the greens, Fleetwood fell into a funk in 2020-21, falling from 26th in putting in 2020 to 135th in 2021. This year he returned to his accustomed 26th spot.

That putting improvement alone accounted for more than a half-stroke upgrade in Fleetwood’s stroke average. Only a handful of players improved their statistical standing in any of the Strokes Gained categories by more than a half stroke between 2021 and 2022.

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Fleetwood accompanied that with significant improvements in the other three Strokes Gained skills, each of them amounting to more than .13 strokes.

That enabled him to join McIlroy and Mitchell as the only three players to upgrade their performance by at least a tenth of a stroke in all four of the Strokes Gained categories.