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
Martin Trainer, Houston Open, Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

5. Martin Trainer (1.290)

In his fourth full season on Tour, Trainer filled a largely anonymous role. He made 31 starts but only made 11 cuts, his best finish being a tie for fifth at the Houston Open last fall.

That does not sound like the resume of a player who made a substantial improvement in stroke average, and perhaps all it shows is that Trainer had a long way to go when the season started.

Still, the numbers are what they are: Trainer averaged 71.841 strokes in 2021-22, a cool 1.29 fewer than one season earlier.

Perhaps that improvement was inevitable, given that in 2021 Trainer had the Tour’s second worst stroke average. He still stood just 175th in 2022, an upward move of about 15 places. Perhaps it was enough to save his flagging career.

Here’s the data on Trainer.

                                           2020-21                2021-22                Change

Off The Tee                       -0.597                     -0.340                    0.257

Approaches                       -1.458                    -0.938                    0.520

Around the Green           -0.002                     -0.127                  -0.125

Putting                                 0.277                       0.520                    0.243

As might be expected of a lower-tiered player who makes a sudden move up the stat sheet, most of Trainer’s ‘improvement’ actually consisted of moderating the impact of his shortcomings. His comparatively weak driving, fairway, and chipping games remained liabilities, only the first two were less so compared with previous seasons.

His best competency has generally been with the putter, and when Trainer had success in 2022 he rode that putting ability.

In concert, the tangibles accounted for nearly nine-tenths of a stroke of the 1.30 stroke improvement he experienced.

That leaves a lot of room for intangibles, and it still leaves Trainer nearly a full stroke below the PGA Tour’s season average. But at least he made a big move in the right direction.