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
J.J Spaun, The Masters, Mandatory Credit: Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Sports /

6. J.J. Spaun (1.186)

A 10-year journeyman out of San Diego State, Spaun entered 29 events in 2021-22 and won one of them, the Valero Texas Open in early April.

The improvement in his stroke average was eye-catching, from 71.855 last season to 70.669 this year. In 2020-21, Spaun ranked 170th on Tour in Stroke average. This year he rocketed to 68th, a 102 spot improvement measuring out to 1.186 strokes over 18 holes.

How? Spaun, too, was another of those guys who found his way on the greens. The Strokes Gained data accounts for about two-thirds of his season-to-season improvement, two-thirds of that coming on the greens.

Here is the data for Spaun.

                                            2020-21                2021-22                Change

Off The Tee                        0.178                      0.124                   -0.054

Approaches                     -0.109                      0.127                     0.236

Around the Green          -0.065                    -0.043                     0.022

Putting                              -0.398                     0.100                     0.498

Spaun’s data is noteworthy for several reasons. Most conspicuously, his putting game morphed from being one of the PGA Tour’s worst to a passable asset.

During the 2020-21 season, Spaun ranked 171st of 195 in Strokes Gained Putting. He moved up this year to 79th, a comfortably mid-range placement among 190 qualifiers.

Spaun’s work from just off the greens has never been a strength, but in 2022 he made it less of a liability. He also turned his approach game into a modest strength.

The result was financially the best season of Spaun’s career. He won more than $2.5 million,  about $600,000 more than he won in any previous season.