Contrasting Styles For Pierce And Fajkus Lead To Success At Memorial Championship

Long distance accuracy vs. short distance accuracy

Paige Pierce (second from left) and Lisa Fajkus (far left) used different styles on their way to the top last weekend. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen

Paige Pierce used her dominant long game to get her second win in as many weeks at the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s first event, the Memorial Championship. Like with Eagle McMahon last week, we were able to compare Pierce to the field using UDisc Live’s statistics, and found that she outpaced everyone in long distance accuracy, which made up for her slightly below average circle 1 putting. This is in stark contrast to Lisa Fajkus, who finished tied in second place. She used impressive circle 1 putting and scrambling to beat all but Pierce and Jessica Weese.

Percent difference from the average player in four statistical categories. Pierce is in red and Fajkus is in blue. Figure: Aaron Howard

Pierce’s fairways hit was 59% better than average and ranked first in the field. Her scrambling and circle 1 putting were 32% and 7% below average, respectively, resulting in rankings of last and second to last. Fajkus was only slightly better than average at hitting fairways but was first in the field at scrambling (28% above average) and second at circle 1 putting (11% above average). A clear example of these divergent styles can be seen during the final round at Vista del Camino Park on the 783-foot par 4 6th where Pierce pumps a drive down a small portion of the fairway on the right, risking OB, which she hit at a rate of 41% above average. Fajkus did not throw her drive OB on hole 6 either and did not do so at a high rate throughout the tournament, but it went far to the left side, out of the fairway. These drives eventually led to pars for both players, but Pierce had reasonably straightforward shots to get there and Fajkus had to scramble.

It is interesting to note how condensed circle 1 putting percentages were at this event. There was only a 15% spread between Fajkus, ranked second, and Pierce ranked 23rd. Circle 2 putting was a completely different story. Pierce ranked 1st and was 290% above average, but Fajkus ranked 6th and was 77% above average. However, Pierce and Fajkus only took 15 and 20 circle 2 putt attempts, respectively, indicating that these putts did not have as much of an effect on the outcome as other accuracy statistics.

What did have a great effect on the outcome for Pierce was her ability to reach the green in regulation with pinpoint accuracy. Pierce reached circle 1 in regulation on 41 of 72 holes through the four-round tournament. Of those 41 holes, 15 of them she parked inside five feet for tap-in birdies, representing 37% of all her greens in regulation. Since Pierce collected 30 birdies at The Memorial, that means half of them were of the drop-in variety.

Like in the Open division last week at the Las Vegas Challenge, long distance accuracy was the strongest predictor of success in the Open Women’s division at the Memorial Championship.1 In the near future, we will present a more comprehensive analysis looking at the relative importance of accuracy at different distances and its relation to success at these early season tournaments

  1. Spearman-rank order correlation coefficient between place in field and fairways hit was 0.84, whereas the coefficient for circle 1 putting was only 0.27. 

  1. Aaron Howard
    Aaron Howard

    Aaron Howard is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Franklin & Marshall College. He loves to play disc golf and to think about things he loves quantitatively. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Instagram.

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