By Paul Myers
Playing professional golf is incredibly difficult – and Mikko Ilonen can attest to that fact first hand. After winning the 2000 Amateur Championship, Ilonen turned professional in 2001. It would take six years before he would record his first professional win, taking the Indonesia Open in 2007. To date, he has recorded a total of five wins on the European Tour, three of which have come within the last couple of seasons. Now 35, Ilonen is ranked 68th in the world and still has plenty of career left ahead of him.
Mikko Ilonen has finished in the top ten of a major championship just twice – and those finished were 13 years apart. When he was just getting started in his career, Ilonen posted a T9 finish at the 2001 Open Championship. Surprisingly, he would play in a major only six times over the next 12 years, making the cut in three of those starts. However, he would breakthrough in the 2014 PGA Championship with his second top ten finish, a T7 at Valhalla.
A Quick Look at His Stats
Ilonen plays mostly on the European Tour, so he has just 12 rounds worth of statistics to evaluate so far during the 2015 PGA Tour season. However, even with a limited sample, there are still some observations that can be made. To start, he averages an impressive 282.3 yards off the tee. That number is relatively average for a Tour player, meaning he isn’t overpowering golf courses, but he isn’t falling behind in this category either. Unfortunately, Ilonen has only managed to his 60.71% of the fairways over these 12 rounds, so that accuracy is certainly something he will look to improve upon during the rest of the 2015 season.
One of the statistical categories where Ilonen appears to excel is mid-iron approach shots. He has hit 17 approach shots from between 150-175 yards, and the average proximity to the hole on those shots is an impressive 29’9’’. Placing the ball inside 30’ on average from that range is an indication of good ball striking. Looking at the putting stats that Ilonen has accumulated on the PGA Tour so far in 2015, it is easy to see that he is stable over his short putts. From 3’ an in, he is 61 for 61 on the season. He has also only missed one putt in 14 tries from 4’, so he has not been wasting strokes once the ball is close to the hole.
You wouldn’t normally look at a player who is 35 years old and think of him as ‘up and coming’. However, with the recent performance that Ilonen turned in at the 2014 PGA Championship, along with his impressive world ranking of 68, it would seem as if Ilonen is ready to make more noise in the coming seasons than at any point during his 14-year pro career.