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COLLEGE STATION --

It's been an axiom of golf for decades: You drive for show, but putt for dough.

But is it true? A Texas A&M University statistics professor says yes, and he can prove it.

Those golfers who can hit a ball 350 yards off the tee to wow a crowd often are not among the leaders at the end of the round because they falter when it comes to the soft touch of putting, says Dr. Scott Berry, who has published his findings in Chance, a statistics magazine.

Berry studied the play of 195 Professional Golf Association (PGA) golfers and examined putting, driving distance off the tee, driving accuracy, chipping, iron shots and sand play. Specifically, he wanted to see which skills differentiated them.

Berry compiled a variety of charts, graphs and analytical tables.

His conclusion: At the end of the day, those with the lowest score on the PGA tour are those who are good putters.

"For professional players, the lesson seems to be this: If you can only be good at one part of your game, the most important part is putting," Berry says.

The second most important aspect, according to his figures, is driving distance, while driving accuracy is third, iron shots are fourth, chipping is fifth and sand play is a distant sixth.

Berry says there is a trade-off between distance and accuracy: it is more important to be pretty good at both than to be excellent at one.

John Daly, for years the longest driver off the tee on the PGA tour with an average drive of 306 yards, has only a 55 percent accuracy rate of hitting the ball down the fairway.

On the other hand, Fred Funk averages only 270 yards per drive but leads the PGA with an 81 percent accuracy rate (of hitting the fairway), Berry says.

Tiger Woods, the No.1-ranked player in the world and the best all-around driver, has an average drive of 293 yards and a 71 percent accuracy rate, Berry said.

The game of golf is composed of par 3, par 4 and par 5 holes, with par being the number of shots it should take to get the ball into the hole. Each hole allows two putts for a par on that hole, Berry explains.

On a par 4 hole, for example, it should take two shots to reach the green and two putts to achieve the par 4 score. Those two putts, Berry says, are what separate the average tour players from the great tour players.

In his article, Berry notes that the old saying of "drive for show but putt for dough" would probably be more accurate if phrased, "You drive for dough, but putt for more dough."

"The figures show that driving is not just for show, but it is less important than good putting. On the PGA tour, putting is the key part of a player's game."

Contact: Keith Randall at (979) 845-4644 or Scott Berry at (979) 845-3141.

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