Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Justin Thomas (+9%): Awesome power, a wider array of shots, better course management – the 23-year-old is viewed by many as a future superstar, and his performance at Kapalua showed why.
Hideki (+7%): Since mid-October, he’s a remarkable 403-2 against the field. Of course, those two losses – both to Thomas – and poor Sunday putting will sting.
Tiger’s return (+3%): An ambitious early-season schedule tells us that he’s healthy and, even more important, eager to compete and see how his game stacks up. There’s no bigger storyline this spring.
Tom Lovelady (+1%): The Web.com Tour rookie – and, coincidentally, Thomas’ former Alabama teammate and current roommate – received a rude welcome to the minor leagues, facing 45-mph gusts in the season opener in the Bahamas. But his even-par 72 in hellish conditions was nearly 10 shots better (81.5) than the field average that day.
Freddie (-1%): Passed over for the ’18 gig, Couples seems destined to join Larry Nelson atop the list of guys who should have led a U.S. team but never did.
Transparency (-2%): New commissioner Jay Monahan has no plans for the PGA Tour to join every other sports league in announcing fines and other punishment for its players. Sigh.
Rory’s Olympic prospects (-3%): Still uneasy on the divisive issue of whether to represent Great Britain or Ireland at the Summer Games, it’s no longer a guarantee that McIlroy will be in Tokyo in 2020. Can’t blame him, either.
J-Day’s slow-play take (-4%): The world No. 1 essentially dared the new administration to do something, anything, about the Tour’s slow pokes, saying that he’ll take his sweet time as long as his group isn’t out of position. Appreciate the honesty, and he’s not wrong in some respects – indeed, there IS a massive difference between slow play at the professional and recreational levels – but unfortunately he just made himself an easy target for rules officials.
Bubba (-5): Doesn’t matter what color his golf ball is if he can’t get it in the hole. At Kapalua, he ranked dead last in putting.