T4. Abraham Ancer
How much worse? (0.978 strokes)
Ancer is the second of three members of the bottom five who defected to the LIV Tour in 2022. At least with respect to those three, it seems likely that they sensed a decline in their ability to compete on the PGA Tour and decided the better option was to take the money and run to a less-demanding Tour.
His scoring average rose from 70.992 in 2020-21 to 70.912 this season. At 31, he is also the youngest member of the bottom 10 in scoring average change, a fact that ought to provoke alarms given that most 31-year-old Tour players ought to be in their playing ascendency.
Before quitting the PGA Tour for LIV in July, Ancer competed in 18 events and landed three top 10s. That doesn’t sound like a bad season. But Ancer’s Tour income plummeted from $5.8 million a season ago to $1.7 million this year, and the reduction in starts only accounted for part of that dropoff.
Here’s the chart for Ancer.
2020-21 2021-22 Change
Off The Tee 0.350 0.395 0.045
Approaches 0.499 0.026 -0.473
Around the Green -0.019 -0.447 -0.428
Putting 0.412 0.165 -0.247
The data shows that Ancer maintained his productive driving game, but that the other aspects of his performance all regressed. Particularly alarming was the disappearance of his generally solid iron game.
In 2020-21, that game was worth almost exactly a half stroke per round to Ancer relative to the field. In 2021-22, that same approach game became essentially a neutral aspect.
Combine that with the fact that Ancer’s recovery game, never a strength, worsened in 2022, and that his putting slipped from an asset to a borderline neutral, and you get a player showing troubling signs of losing it at a young age.