A little fame and a pocket full of cash are nice, but you don't want to be on the list of best players without a PGA Tour title. GolfChannel.com writers offer up their guy who tops the list.
By REX HOGGARD
The title nobody wants may have transitioned to the player few people can pick out of a lineup, following Sunday’s near miss in Las Vegas. By way of introductions, meet Brendon De Jonge – the most-recent member to be saddled with the moniker “Best player without a Tour title.'
For the record, de Jonge’s runner-up showing at the Justin Timberlake stop was the first of his career but the Zimbabwean hasn’t exactly been delivering goose eggs since he join the PGA Tour in 2007. He has 37 top-25 finishes in 146 Tour starts and hasn’t finished outside the top 60 in FedEx Cup points since 2009.
But the most impressive component of de Jonge’s resume is how he continues to improve from year to year. In 29 starts this season he’s missed just four cuts, compared to eight in 2011 and ’10, and 13 in 2009.
What may ultimately separate de Jonge from the rest of the Tour’s also-rans, however, is how motivated he is sure to be next year. De Jonge will by vying for a spot on the 2013 International Presidents Cup team which will be captained by Nick Price, his mentor and childhood idol.
“It’s nice to be able to pick up the phone and call someone who is that accomplished,” de Jonge said earlier this summer of Price. “He’s so straight forward; he will give me a kick in the butt when I need that.”
By JASON SOBEL
I always have an issue when trying to name the BPTHNWAPGATE. That would be Best Player To Have Never Won A PGA Tour Event – the granddaddy of all golf acronyms.
My first thought is to reward longevity. Briny Baird is 97th on the all-time money list with $12,634,862 – the highest total for a non-winner – but I’m not sure anyone has ever watched Baird and considered him the “best” of anything. No disrespect intended, of course.
My next thought is to employ the ol’ eyeball test. That Nicolas Colsaerts fellow looked pretty darn good at the Ryder Cup – for one day, at least. Same could be said for Peter Hanson, who had top-10s in two majors and two WGC events this year. But those guys don’t ply their trade full-time on the PGA Tour, so keep an asterisk next to each of their names.
Then I start thinking about potential. If the term “best” is supposed to prioritize the most talented, then players such as Ryo Ishikawa and Matteo Manassero should step to the head of the class. Still in the embryonic stages of their careers, though, it’s impossible to maintain that either one has unfulfilled potential, so weighing them down with such a label appears too hasty.
So instead I’m going to find a way to sort of include all three categories. Give me a guy who’s been out there grinding for a while, owns plenty of innate talent and still shows a world of potential.
For me, that player is Jeff Overton. Already a Ryder Cup competitor, the 29-year-old has four second-place finishes, three thirds, 24 top-10s and is just a pocketful of loose change away from breaking the $10 million barrier in career earnings.
Then again, being atop this list is always a double-edged sword. It shows he’s proven himself, yet also has underachieved. Don’t expect Overton to remain here for too much longer. Pretty soon he’ll be vying for BPTHWOOPGATE honors. That would be Best Player To Have Won Only One PGA Tour Event.
By RANDALL MELL
Give me Bud Cauley.
I know, he’s a PGA Tour rookie with just 35 career starts, and he has never led a PGA Tour event after any round. I know this is about who is the best player right now without a PGA Tour win, but I’m still going all in on Cauley's talent and potential. He’s good enough to win right now, to win this week’s Frys.com Open.
Cauley, 22, has recorded six top-10 finishes this year. That’s the same number Brendon de Jonge has logged in the last two years.
No knock on de Jonge, 32, who looks to be on track to a breakthrough victory, but the bet here is that by the time Cauley reaches the 146 career starts de Jonge has made, Cauley will have more than one PGA Tour title on his resume.
Cauley showed something under pressure coming out of the University of Alabama last year and securing his PGA Tour card in eight starts. He joined Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Scott Verplank, Ryan Moore and Gary Hallberg as the only players to come straight out of college and qualify for the Tour without going to Q-School. That’s a pretty good list to use as an indicator of future success.
By RYAN LAVNER
It’s probably true that Charlie Wi is better known for those Stack & Tilt commercials than anything he’s done on the golf course. Indeed, his has been an unspectacular career of middling finishes (top-25 finishes in 27 percent of his career starts) and consistency (six consecutive seasons inside the top 100 on the money list).
Essentially, he’s the modern-day PGA Tour pro: good enough to get in contention a few times, still ridiculously wealthy (more than $8.7 million in career earnings).
But the argument could be made, after an examination of his career record, that he’s the best player yet to have won on the PGA Tour. Unlike some of his younger, splashier and nonetheless winless colleagues, Wi has actually been in the mix for multiple titles – five runner-up finishes, to be exact. Nearly once each year he’s been on Tour.
Did he convert? Well, no, which is how he landed on this list to begin with. This year, Wi had a three-shot lead at Pebble Beach before he – and the rest of the field – was lapped by Phil Mickelson. He played well for four rounds at the 2011 Colonial and was edged by David Toms. He closed with 61 at the 2008 Valero and still couldn’t catch Zach Johnson.
The point? Winning on the PGA Tour requires an enormous level of skill, sure, but also some luck. Following the trends, it might soon be Wi’s time.