5 Best Wedge Players on the PGA Tour

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2012

5 Best Wedge Players on the PGA Tour

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    There's no overstating the importance of wedge play on the PGA Tour.

    Top pros excel at driving the ball, using their fairway irons and playing from the bunker as if it were no problem.

    The biggest difference between the top money earners and those who are way down on the money list is the short game. Those who excel with their wedges and putters are going to get victories and bring home big money.

    Of the two, putting is probably the most glamorous way to make headlines and improve a golfer's status on the tour. However, the best wedge players can make their mark with consistency.

    Here's a look at the best wedge players on the PGA Tour.

Steve Stricker

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    When it comes to play around the green, Steve Stricker is perhaps the best player on the tour. He knows he can get close nearly every time he strikes the ball and he's 100 yards or less from the flag stick.

    Stricker is second in accuracy on the tour in getting the ball closest to the pin from 100 yards or less. According to PGA.com, Stricker gets the ball to an average of 12 feet from the pin.

    That's no fluke. Stricker was also second in the same category in 2011, getting the ball to an average of 12'6" from the hole. 

Padraig Harrington

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    Padraig Harrington is one of the best ball strikers on the tour. It extends from his driver, his fairway woods, his iron play and his wedge shots.

    Because he makes so few mistakes, he is one of the most consistent players when it comes to playing the short game.

    During the 2012 season, Harrington is the most accurate player on the tour. He is getting the ball to an average of 11'8" from the hole.

    Harrington's accuracy gives him a significant edge on the competition and makes him an important factor in the most significant tournaments.

Bo Van Pelt

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    Bo Van Pelt has become one of the best short-game players on the PGA Tour.

    He has done this because he practices all aspects of the game and he never lets up or takes it easy. He concentrates on the shorter shots and tries not to give any strokes away.

    It has paid off well for him since he has been the No. 5-ranked player on the PGA Tour this year when it comes to getting the ball close to the pin. His average approach shot ends up 13'4" inches from the hole.

    That makes up for the times his drives don't have the maximum distance of some of the biggest hitters on the tour. Van Pelt ranks 39th on the tour in driving distance.

Phil Mickelson

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    The numbers are not impressive for Phil Mickelson when it comes to his wedge play this season.

    A look at the PGA stats shows that Lefty is tied for 44th when it comes to getting his wedge shots closest to the pin. While the top-ranked golfers get the ball inside of 12 feet, Mickelson is getting the ball 15'7" from the hole.

    However, Mickelson has made much of his awesome reputation with his ability to hit clutch wedge shots when he needs it most. Nobody on tour can hit the flop shot like Mickelson. It seems like he invented the shot.

    He may not have done that, but Mickelson has certainly perfected that shot and it has brought him exalted status on the tour.

Rory Sabbatini

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    Rory Sabbatini is known for speaking his mind and playing a round of golf with a swagger.

    He has complete confidence in his ability and his tendency to show that confidence has not always helped him win friends and influence people on the pro tour.

    However, that confidence has allowed him to become one of the most consistent ball strikers.

    That includes his wedge play. During the 2012 golf season, Sabbatini is getting the ball to an average of 13'5" from the hole. That ranks sixth on the tour this year.

    Sabbatini has shown much improvement in that area. He was tied for 28th last year, finishing with an average distance of 15'3" from the hole.