Ranking the 10 Best Putters on the PGA Tour

Mike DudurichContributor INovember 13, 2014

Ranking the 10 Best Putters on the PGA Tour

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    Steve Stricker has become a master at reading greens.
    Steve Stricker has become a master at reading greens.USA TODAY Sports

    There was a time when Tiger Woods was looked upon as the best putter of his day, but as his career and age advanced, it became clear that Woods wasn't the putter he used to be.

    That's why as you look through the following list of the 10 best putters on the PGA Tour, Woods won't be listed.

    Putting is a very stat-oriented aspect of the game, and a combination of statistics have been used to come up with the list.

    Sometimes numbers tell the story; sometimes they don't.

    Here's the list. Check it out.

10. Chris Kirk

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    Chris KIrk has proved to be a clutch putter on the PGA Tour.
    Chris KIrk has proved to be a clutch putter on the PGA Tour.Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

    It's quite a competition that's going on among former University of Georgia golfers like Bubba Watson, Brendon Todd, Russell Henley, Harris English and Chris Kirk.

    They are all very good players who have won on the PGA Tour, and while Kirk was the last name on that list, he's certainly not the least on it.

    Kirk had a spectacular season in 2014 and probably should have been selected for the U.S. Ryder Cup team instead of Webb Simpson or Hunter Mahan.

    The fact he wasn't doesn't take anything away from his year or the fact that he's an emerging superstar. He averaged 7.57 one-putt greens, 28.44 putts per round and was a very respectable .373 in the strokes-gained putting category

    Kirk is 29 years old and entering the prime of his playing career. And that prime has a chance of being really prime.

9. Brendon Todd

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    Part of Brendon Todd's fabulous short game is his putting.
    Part of Brendon Todd's fabulous short game is his putting.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Brendon Todd might be the least well known of the boys from Georgia, but he did a lot to change that in the summer of 2014.

    During a stretch that went from mid-May to just past July 4, Todd was as hot as anyone in the game.

    He followed up his first victory on the PGA Tour with T5, T8, T17, T5 and T4 finishes. He contended at the U.S. Open in which a third-round 79 resulted in the T17.

    The key to all that? One of the best short games on the PGA Tour, including a sweet putting stroke.

    Todd is in that same elite group of putters, averaging 7.57 one-putts per round and 28.32 putts per round. As a result, his strokes gained putting stat was a really good .663 in 2014, placing him sixth in that category.

    Remember Brendon Todd's name. He'll be heard from a lot in 2015.

8. Aaron Baddeley

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    Aaron Baddeley's stroke with his belly putter.
    Aaron Baddeley's stroke with his belly putter.USA TODAY Sports

    Take a look at the 2014 season of Aaron Baddeley and it doesn't look like he had much going on. Two Top 10 finishes and a little over $940,000 would indicate it was something of a struggle.

    But when you look at the putting stats, Baddeley did quite well with his flat stick. He was just short of eight one-putts per round at 7.94 and averaged 28.15 putts per round.

    But most amazing was his strokes-gained putting average of .873, which that was second-best on the PGA Tour. It's amazing because all of that good putting didn't result in many good performances at events.

    He was also ninth in the total putting stats.

7. Matt Kuchar

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    Matt Kuchar has proved he can make things happen with the putter.
    Matt Kuchar has proved he can make things happen with the putter.Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    Matt Kuchar is a very good player on the PGA Tour. He's also made a boatload of money—over $31 million and counting.

    However, he can't be considered a great player because he's still looking for his first major championship title.

    He has proved his ability to hang in there in tournaments, having won seven PGA Tour titles. And while he can't be called a great putter, he's definitely a good one.

    In 2014, his strokes-gained putting average was 15th at .458. Kuchar's one-putt average is a respectable 7.19 per round, and he averaged 28.74 putts per round. 

    You could look at those numbers and say had he putted a little bit better the Masters, his T5 could have been much better. 

    But keep this in mind, with Kuchar's belly putter being anchored on his forearm, he won't be making any drastic putting changes a year from now. If he catches a week when they all start going in, he could get that major title.

6. Rory McIlroy

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    Rory McIlroy sizing one up.
    Rory McIlroy sizing one up.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    We all know the kind of season Rory McIlroy had in 2014. A pair of major titles sandwiched around a World Golf Championship win showed just how dominant he was.

    He didn't get off to a great start, but once he won the BMW PGA Championship in May, it all seemed to come together.

    McIlroy's putting—like the rest of his game—wasn't all that great early on in the season, so his stats aren't sparkling. What that tells you is how well he putted once he got hot.

    He averaged 7.52 one-putts per round and 28.32 putts per round. His strokes-gained putting average of .273 was OK but not great.

    It's pretty obvious McIlroy's power and shotmaking are the strengths of his game. His putting is very good, but it pales in significance to his power and shotmaking.

5. Brian Gay

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    Brian Gay has been a top putter for many years.
    Brian Gay has been a top putter for many years.Darren Carroll/Getty Images

    Throughout his career, what Brian Gay lacked in distance off the tee he more than made up for with his putter.

    He is annually among or around the 20 best players in strokes-gained putting, although 2014 wasn't his best year in that category—Gay's .265 average ranked 45th on the PGA Tour.

    Gay won the 2013 Humana Challenge in appropriate fashion, rolling in a five-and-a-half-foot birdie putt to win on the second playoff hole over Charles Howell III.

    Gay averaged 7.94 one-putts and 28.16 putts per round on the greens in 2014.

    He can still putt, but the biggest challenge for the 42-year-old will be the distance issue and his ability to get the ball on the green efficiently to give his flat stick a chance to do its thing.

4. Brandt Snedeker

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    Brandt Snedeker gets the bead on another putt.
    Brandt Snedeker gets the bead on another putt.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Prior to the recurrence in 2013 of a nagging rib issue that has occasionally bothered him over the years, Brandt Snedeker was on the short list of the best putters in the game.

    And he still is a very good putter, but even after he started feeling better in 2014, he was not the Snedeker we had been used to seeing. He was 27th in the strokes-gained putting category, the lowest he's been since 2008.

    That's not to say he's become a bad putter—he hasn't. He still averages 7.43 one-putts per round. He averaged 28.74 putts per round, which put him in a T40, but less than a putt worse than the leader in that category, Justin Leonard, who averaged 27.77.

    Look for big improvements with the flat stick from Snedeker in 2015.

3. Jordan Spieth

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    Among Jordan Spieth's many talents is his putting.
    Among Jordan Spieth's many talents is his putting.USA TODAY Sports

    Jordan Spieth is awfully young to be called the best putter on the PGA Tour, but it is appropriate to rank him up there with the best.

    Spieth's 2014 season was not nearly as explosive as the one he produced in his rookie season of 2013, but it was still pretty good for a 21-year-old.

    But when his 2014 season ended, Speith led the tour in one-putts, averaging 8.26 per round and was second in putts-per-round at 27.86. 

    In 2013, when he was one of the hottest stories in the game, he finished 34th in one-putts at 7.50 and was T31 in putts per round at 28.68.

    The kid seems to have it all going for him. He contended in majors in 2014 and is getting better and better.

2. Graeme McDowell

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    Graeme McDowell has evolved into a very efficient putter.
    Graeme McDowell has evolved into a very efficient putter.Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    You don't win U.S. Opens by not being a good putter; U.S. Open champions are almost always great putters.

    Graeme McDowell is a great putter. 

    In 2014, he led the PGA Tour in the strokes-gained putting category with an average of .886 and was also No. 1 in total putting.

    On the PGA Tour, he averaged 7.35 one-putts and 5.74 on the European Tour. He was 39th in putts per round at 28.56 on the PGA tour and 14th on the European Tour at 28.7.

    He was exceptional on Pebble Beach's greens in the 2010 U.S. Open, and while he hasn't been consistently great, the capabilities are there, which make him dangerous.

1. Steve Stricker

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    Another putt holed for Steve Stricker.
    Another putt holed for Steve Stricker.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Steve Stricker isn't ranked in the PGA Tour's statistics for the 2014 season because that was the first year of his reduced-schedule plan.

    But even with less events, the numbers don't lie: Steve Stricker has been and continues to be the best putter on the PGA Tour.

    His strokes-gained putting average of .566 would have ranked him 27th on tour.

    But how about some of these numbers in 11 starts for Stricker?

    He made 98.21 percent of his putts from inside five feet. He made 49.53 percent from five-15 feet and made 93.64 percent from three-five feet.

    Generally speaking, if you're looking for the top putters in the game, Steve Stricker's name will show up.