In parts one and two of this study we’ve pretty much established that final round comebacks happen very infrequently.
To complete matters, here are a few further thoughts that have been prompted by this dizzying collection of numbers.
The focus of attention has always been on the PGA and European Tours – and it was striking how similar the ratios were.
But what of the other circuits?
Incredibly, on both the two main women’s tour, plus the two second tiers, and even the pair at senior level, the rates are maintained with only slight differences.
For what it’s worth, seniors haven’t won from outside the top 20 and the Korn Ferry Tour is where most winners emerge from outside the top ten.
Something about the players who won from way back is eye-catching.
Two of the five European Tour instances could be deemed elite fields (the 2006 Scottish Open and 2017 BMW PGA Championship), two of six on the PGA Tour (the 2005 Honda Classic and 2016 Farmers Insurance). Only four of 11 in total.
It arouses another thought – how do the absolute elite events bear up to scrutiny?
The Majors and World Golf Championship
As the above hinted at, there have been nothing in the way of extraordinary witnessed in the final rounds of the sport’s big four tournaments.
Indeed, in the 21st century both the Masters and PGA Championship winners were in the top five with one round to play.
The U.S. Open has had two champions emerge from outside the top five (Angel Cabrera T7 in 2007 and Webb Simpson T8 in 2012), whilst the Open had three (Stewart Cink T6 in 2009, Phil Mickelson T9 in 2012 and Zach Johnson T6 in 2015).
And what of the WGC strokeplay events? Very similar – no-one jumped from outside the top ten and there were only two players who were beyond the top five.
All of this leads to a final thought – if the elite event produce no late drama, what of the elite performers?
The Top Players
Tiger Woods has won from a long way back, but just the once. He was T18 and eight shots behind the leader Ernie Els in the European Tour’s 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic – Woods closed with a 65 that forced a play-off with the South African; Tiger won it.
But on the PGA Tour he has never emerged from outside the top ten and only three times won from beyond the top five.
I lack the access to all of Phil Mickelson’s career stats, but in the 21st century? He’s never won from outside the top ten with 18 holes to play (and just three times from outside the top five).
World number one Rory McIlroy? He’s won twice from T7, otherwise he was always T5 or better with 18 holes to play.
What about heavy winner Lee Westwood? Just three times from outside the top three, but he did once jump from T11 in the 1999 KLM Open.
To at least some degree this is all explained by the fact that the world’s top players compete, most often, in the best fields. But it might be worth recalling when a minor event heads into the last round with a world’s top ten talent hovering just outside the top ten.
A final notion to close with – have the Spanish got final round charges sussed?
Jon Rahm has twice flown home on a wet sail, winning the 2019 Irish Open from T9 and the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open from T13.
And Sergio Garcia? He’s won from outside the top five no less than six times (four of them on the PGA Tour).