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Meet Mr. Average
Rick Lipsey
April 27, 1998
Want a fair to middling pro? Mike Springer is the fairest of them all
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April 27, 1998

Meet Mr. Average

Want a fair to middling pro? Mike Springer is the fairest of them all

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TOUR AVERAGE

MIKE SPRINGER

TOUR BEST

TOURWORST

Driving Distance

267.7

266.6

J. Daly 298.2

C. Pavin 239.9

Driving Accuracy

70.3%

60.2%

F. Funk 81.1%

T. Tolles 55.6%

Total Driving

139

211

T.Woods 49

L. Rinker 243

Greens in Regulation

64.6%

61.6%

S. Flesch 72.6%

M.Brisky 55.4%

Putts per G.I.R.

1.776

1.780

J. Daly 1.699

B. Brown 1.880

Birdies

3.44

3.33

D. Duval 4.70

B. Brown 2.29

Sand Saves

51.6%

47.7%

K. Triplett 75.7%

T. Kite 29.8%

Scoring

71.41

72.64

T. Woods 69.81

G. Hjertstedt 73.9

All-Around

554

771

J. Huston 83

C. Pavin 965

He doesn't own a jet or a course-design firm, but he averages 266.6 yards off the tee and takes only 29 putts per round. Last year he made $191,422. "That might sound great to the typical golfer, but it's not where I want to be," says Mike Springer, the most typical Tour pro of all. "I've got bigger goals than being average."

To identify the quintessential pro, we began with the 20 players whose ranks in the Tour's All-Around category, a combination of the major stat rankings, were nearest the Tour average. A close look at those contenders scotched many candidacies. Fred Funk, for example, ranks first in driving accuracy—nothing typical about that. Something funky eliminated several others, too. Chris Smith gets high marks for mediocre stats but has spells of extraordinary brilliance, like the one that earned him a battlefield promotion from the Nike tour. So he's out. In the end, Michael Paul Springer, 32, stood alone in the middle of the pack. A second-team All-America at Arizona, Springer joined the Tour in 1991 and won $178,587, good for 91st place on the money list. In 1994 he soared to 13th with $770,717 in earnings, but in '97, he played 22 tournaments and made only 11 cuts. At last week's MCI Heritage Classic he missed the cut, leaving his '98 earnings at $33,850, good for 146th place on the money list. As the chart below shows, his stats are about what you'd expect.

Boring? Not at all, because the line between being the Tour's most typical player and being a non-Tour player can be tissue-thin. After winning a pair of unexceptional Tour events, the '94 Greater Greensboro Open and the Greater Milwaukee Open that same year, Springer was nearly certain to lose his card last fall until his next-to-last event of the season, the LaCantera Texas Open. But that week he shocked the world by coming through in a big way, tying for sixth to win $45,325. That shot him from 130th on the money list into the top 125, saving his card and making Springer a hero back home in Fresno, Calif., where he lives with his wife, Crystol, and their two kids and, of course, hunts and fishes in his free time. "Mike's not average around here," says Crystol of the Springers' leading breadwinner. "He's wonderful."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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