Who now holds the moniker 'best player without a PGA Tour title?' Senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell offer their takes.
By REX HOGGARD
Tim Clark, a perennial choice for the moniker “best player without a PGA Tour title,” proved on Sunday that the line between underachiever and fulfilled expectations is as thin as some of the tee shots hit at TPC Sawgrass’ 17th hole.
The South African went 205 Tour starts without a victory and was asked when he would end the drought almost as many times. Graeme McDowell is next in line to assume the unwelcome title.
McDowell’s futility is nowhere near that of Clark’s, but in just 63 Tour events he’s finished inside the top 25 nearly one-quarter of the time (15) and, like Clark, seems to perform best on the largest stage.
He’s missed the cut just twice in his last dozen Grand Slam starts, tied for sixth this year at Doral and was 10th at last year’s PGA despite a Friday 75.
More importantly McDowell knows how to win, having collected multiple titles on the European Tour to say nothing of his 2-1-0 record at the 2008 Ryder Cup. It’s a body of work that others vying for their first title, Rickie Fowler and Co., are lacking. And why the Northern Irishman takes over for Clark. Whether he likes it or not.
By RANDALL MELL
Bubba Watson steps up on the hot seat now.
Watson, 31, is the most gifted player on the PGA Tour who has yet to win.
For the record, he’s 0-for-120 in starts.
This guy’s no sideshow freak whose appeal is limited to the fact that he can reach California from Florida in two shots. He’s a power player, but he’s not your classic bomb and gouge tactician. Watson is a shot maker. He can and does work the ball and will play a variety of shots. He’s as enamored with shaping shots as he is launching drives from one zip code to another.
In his fifth season on Tour, Watson has tied for second four times, including the terrific test at Quail Hollow last year. He’s finished fifth or better 10 times and contended at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont before tying for fifth.
As a ball striker, the game’s there. Watson’s 14th in scoring average this season, 18th in hitting greens in regulation and a respectable 50th in putting average. Of course, he’s No. 1 in driving distance. For Watson to break through, he needs to get that quirky mind square and elevate his short game.