Saturday, August 1, 2015

PGA Tour Prospective Patrons

The PGA Tour has came a long way from the early to mid two thousands where a man by the name of Eldrick "Tiger" Woods dominated the world of golf with no other real consistent competition to provide a scare. The players that were his most noteworthy rivals during that time were the likes of Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Davis Love, Colin Montgomerie etc but at the end of the day the biggest differentiation was the physical tools that Tiger possessed. His length off the tee when he first broke onto the scene was unparamount with only a few players worldwide even coming close to that driving distance, John Daly truly the only recognizable one. The combination of the aforementioned length with his touch around the greens made him a unstoppable force, as from his debut 1996 until 2005, the year in which I believe the golfing landscape changed, he racked up forty career wins on tour. The players who I mentioned earlier, Els, Love etc etc roasted on weaker fields pre 1996 because at that time course designers weren't building golf courses to favour the incredibly long hitters, it was much more of a precision game, so the cagey veterans had more of a chance. Around the time the Tiger phenomenon erupted,  reputable designers began to "tiger proof" courses, which in some respect had an adverse effect to what the tour envisioned because the premise was to build courses longer and narrower but all it ultimately ended up doing was providing Tiger more of an advantage because he had a well polished, complete game that could smoothly handle the rigors of a tight golf course.  Tiger had the confidence that intimated stingy opposition, and in his defence probably still has the confident, border line cocky demeanor but it's no longer necessarily warranted with the way his game, and the game of golf are evolving. A new era has arrived, it's no longer Tiger  vs the field, although media outlets who have rights to the game may want you to believe that. The Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth tenure is well under way but unlike the Tiger era, they're not waves ahead of everybody else. The field of a standard PGA event includes on average about one hundred and thirty participants, and in my estimation 98% of the field could legitimately  pull out a W. With complete admiration and respect to the Steve Elkington's and Dan Forsman's of that generation, they had no business contending on a  weekly basis.  Now a days we're privy to the likes of Whee Kim and Emiliano Grillo, who by the way will be featured below as players in an ever growing sport. The international explosion will set up a very compelling 2018 olympics in Rio De Janeiro as golf is introduced. What I am going to venture in below is profile five up and comers on the your who have yet to win on the PGA Tour but who if I  were a betting man, which I am at times, will make for sleepless nights amongst the upper echelon including Spieth and McIlroy and will ALL nab a win in the next twelve months. List will be completed alphabetically.

Kevin Chappell(07/08/1986)- Not exactly going out on a limb considering that at time of writing he holds a share of the lead at the Quicken Loans Championship heading into Sunday's final round with Troy Merritt, but if it's not tomorrow, it will be sometime very soon. His claim to fame early in his career is his putting and accurate ball striking but with his frame complimenting his 292 average off the tee box, he can spout off eagles at will ranking thirty first in that category.  He just strikes me as a player that has complete control of his golf game and will find a way to muster out a victory in the not so distant future.

Previous generation comparable: Stewart Cink

Tommy Fleetwood(01/19/1991)- Already a holder of a European tour event title, I was debating whether or not to include him on this list. The reason for the inclusion is because of his lack of familiarity amongst the general North American golfing observer.  He doesn't play often on the PGA Tour, as mentioned he holds primary membership on the European Tour which complicates matters a bit limiting his opportunites to World Golf Championships and Major Championships.  For a smaller individual listed at 5'11, he can pound it with the driver nearly averaging 300 yards but the strength of his game is unquestionably his driving accuracy and in order for him to crack open a Champaign bottle in one of North America's premier events, the statistic of 31.8 putts per round will have to drastically improve. Perhaps a call to call to putting guru Brad Faxon is in order.

Previous generation comparable:Paul Lawrie

Emiliano Grillo(09/14/1992)- Arguably THE hottest commodity right now in golf, this young Argentian is setting the tour on fire. This twenty two year old who is just getting his feet wet interestingly enough has never missed a put under five feet, which yes I know should be standard note for most PGA Tour players but the pressure and scrutiny these players are under is indescribable and not managing any hiccups is shockingly veteran-esque. Dustin Johnson wishes that statistic would apply to him as he'd probably have two major championships by now. If it wasn't for a final round seventy one at the Barbasol Championship, we wouldn't be having this discussion as he'd already be a winner and you heard it here first, Emiliano Grillo will win a major in 2016.

Previous generation comparable:Jerry Kelly

Luke Guthrie(01/31/1990)- I'm sure by his own admission, 2015 has been a disappointing year for the Quincy, Illinois product. The reason I have so much optimism for Guthrie is I recall the time when he and Ben Kohles burst on to the tour scene in 2012 and Guthrie won back to back weeks. For whatever reason, Kohles hasn't followed the same developmental curve that Guthrie has but it's important getting back to Guthrie that he finds a way to re-kindle the form that he had in early 2014 when he had a couple great finishes. After skimming through his statistics, it's evident a facet that needs overwhelming refining is greens in regulation, because as of August 1st,2015 he ranks #165 in that department.

Previous generation comparable:Mark James

Kelly Kraft(10/05/1988)- Some will perceive this as a stretch in lieu of the fact that right now he's not even a full fledged member of the PGA tour, currently trotting away on the tour, but with his comfortable ranking of four, he's all but assured a spot on the PGA Tour next season. Thanks to the Golf Channel's comprehensive coverage of all tours, I've got to see Kraft play quite often especially since he's found himself in contention in most events. Even though he'll be entering his rookie season next year, I firmly believe he'll quickly be viewed as an exceptional putter on tour, an asset that will land Kraft in the winners circle TWICE.  How's that for a bold prediction?

Previous generation comparable: Chad Campbell

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