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Punch Shot: Who's next for career resurgence?

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Some have struggled for a while. Others have been written off completely. The 2014 season has brought about career revivals for several players, including Michelle Wie and last week's Players champ Martin Kaymer. GolfChannel.com writers make their picks for who may be the next in line for a resurgence. 

By JASON SOBEL

Charles Howell III doesn’t get nearly as much attention these days as he did as a PGA Tour phenom some decade-and-a-half ago, but I think he’s on the verge of a career revival.

Not that he’s so far off. Howell’s five top-10 finishes this season ranks seventh, behind only guys named Kuchar, English, McIlroy, Spieth, Walker and Watson. His 252 total birdies ranks tied for second, down from the top spot a week ago. And he’s a model of consistency, having missed just three cuts in 18 starts.

It’s that last part – the consistency – that leads me to believe Howell’s career arc could mirror that of Kuchar. Which is to say, there’s no reason something can’t click in his mid-30s that elevates him to a guy who contends for two titles a month.

In many ways, CH3 has been the poster boy for everything wrong with the modern game: He owns just two career wins and one career top-10 at a major championship (T-10 at the 2003 PGA Championship) and yet he ranks 26th in career earnings with just over $26 million.  Expect all of those numbers to increase soon enough, though. His other numbers say he’s too good for it not to happen.


By RYAN LAVNER

He’s already been labeled a teen phenom, a global superstar and now a bust. Strong words for a player just 22 years old.

That’s right, he’s still younger than Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and Harris English. He’s only 14 months older than Jordan Spieth. So, yes, there is plenty of time for Ryo Ishikawa, a 10-time winner in Japan, to blossom into the PGA Tour player that fulfills all those lofty expectations of his teen years.

This has been his most promising season in the States to date, finishing in the top 10 three times already and banking more than $1.2 million. The back injury that plagued his past two years is no longer an issue, and he’s now developing into a well-adjusted young man … or as well as a guy can be after growing up with a camera or microphone constantly in his face. Indeed, each man blazes his own path to the game’s elite. 


By RANDALL MELL

Yani Tseng.

Tseng ruled the Rolex Women’s World Rankings as No. 1 for more than two years, losing the top spot to Stacy Lewis just 14 months ago. She has plummeted to No. 53 in the world today, and she is more than two years removed from her last LPGA victory.

At 25, Tseng owns 15 LPGA titles, including five major championships. Yes, she lost something, and she’s searching to get it back. Yes, there’s mystery in trying to figure out exactly what she lost, but she’s young enough and determined enough to find it.

Tseng should find inspiration in watching Martin Kaymer fight his way back in the men’s game, and in watching Michelle Wie do the same in the women’s game. Once Tseng feels whatever mojo she lost coming back, one big week could bring her name back to leaderboards with regularity in a hurry.


By WILL GRAY

Ryo Ishikawa.

The “Bashful Prince” has largely been seen as a disappointment since he began playing regularly in the U.S., but at 22 years old there is still plenty of time to reverse that trend.

Ishikawa struggled to handle the media, both Japanese and American, while bursting onto the scene as a teenager, but in recent months he appears to have found his footing. He played consistent golf at the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals to regain his PGA Tour status, and this season has continued that momentum, with eight top-25 finishes in 15 starts including a runner-up at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. With more than $1.2 million already in the bank, his playing privileges for the 2014-15 season are virtually assured.

Hideki Matsuyama has taken on the label of “can’t-miss kid” from the Land of the Rising Sun, and the flock of Japanese media that follows him to every event reinforces that notion. No longer the center of attention among golf fans in his homeland, Ishikawa is now freed up to simply play the game – which he has been doing rather well this season. Don’t be surprised if the “Prince” gets his hands on a trophy before too long.