Tiger Woods has four wins on Tour this season, but his success also serves to highlight other players’ winless campaigns.
So we ask: Which player are you most surprised hasn’t won yet this year?
By RYAN LAVNER
I expected huge things from the 2011 PGA champion. He was coming off another stellar campaign, and his spirited Ryder Cup performance helped bolster his reputation as one of the game’s most exciting players.
The only thing the 26-year-old hasn’t done this season is win. OK, so there were the no-shows in the big events – the first-round loss at the Match Play, the 73-73-82 start at the Masters, the MC at The Players.
But there are the close calls, too: the T-4 at the season opener, the runner-up at the Nelson. In all, he is ranked 13th in the world, he has six top-10s, he sits eighth in scoring average (69.96), and he’s ninth in FedEx Cup points, the only player inside the top 10 without a victory.
If Bradley ends 2013 without a win – it could come as soon as this week’s Memorial, or perhaps at the PGA – feel free to bash me upside the head with a belly putter.
By JASON SOBEL
I thought this was going to be a big year for Justin Rose. Still do, actually.
At 32, he’s just entering what is generally considered to be the prime of most professional golfers’ careers. He’s a ball-striking machine whose iron and wedge game is among the world’s top five. And he’s coming off a season in which he had 14 top-10 finishes around the world, including his first WGC title.
It just felt like talent and success were going to happily intersect, resulting in Rose hoisting a few more trophies this year.
It hasn’t happened yet, but he’s hardly been a disappointment. Rose has runner-up finishes in Abu Dhabi and at Bay Hill to go along with a pair of other top-10s. Let’s remember the question here: I’m not calling him this year’s most disappointing golfer so far; I’m saying he’s the one I’m most surprised hasn’t yet won.
There’s still plenty of time, though. In fact, Rose’s first PGA Tour win came three years ago at The Memorial Tournament. He’s back at Jack’s place this week and while Tiger Woods remains the prohibitive favorite, Rose could very well erase his name from the non-winners list this season.
By RANDALL MELL
Rory McIlroy’s the biggest surprise.
He did, after all, begin the year No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s still No. 2 despite a sluggish start to this season. There was a lot going on in his life with all that comes with being No. 1, with his equipment change, with reports he’s about to leave another management company and with speculation over who he will play for when the Olympics come around. Still, it’s surprising that he hasn’t even given himself a chance to win anything other than the Valero Texas Open late on a Sunday this year.
He’s been here before, though, just last year. The 2012 Memorial marked his third consecutive missed cut, but he ended up going on a tear in August and September, winning three of four starts, including the PGA Championship.
By WILL GRAY
This season, Keegan Bradley has done everything but win – literally. Among his six top-10 finishes – tied with Brandt Snedeker for the most this year on the PGA Tour – are a second (HP Byron Nelson), a third (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and a pair of fourths (Hyundai TOC and Honda Classic). A year after leading the Tour in the all-around ranking, the former PGA champ is once again near the top of myriad statistical categories: sixth in total driving, 10th in par-4 performance, 11th in scoring average and eighth in the all-around.
The 26-year-old has demonstrated an ability to close out PGA Tour events – see last year’s win at Firestone in addition to his playoff triumph at the 2011 PGA Championship. This year, though, he hasn’t been able to close the deal, coming closest in his most recent start at TPC Four Seasons, where he led much of the week after setting a new course record in the first round, only to be passed on the final day by Sang-Moon Bae. At ninth on the current FedEx Cup points standings, he remains the highest-ranked player without a win to his credit this season.
Through the first five months of 2013, Bradley has demonstrated an ability to thrive on a variety of courses; he’s posted high finishes at Doral and Redstone, when birdies were required in bunches, as well as Riviera and PGA National, where par was often a good score. Though it’s surprising that he hasn’t already hoisted a trophy this season, with his game clearly at an elite level, the prevailing sense is that it’s only a matter of time before he’s back inside the winner’s circle.