Each week on GolfChannel.com, we'll examine which players' stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Derek Ernst: Perhaps the last great Q-School success story, as the 22-year-old survived all four stages and then won eight starts into his rookie year on the PGA Tour. The $1.2 million windfall was nice, but even better was the security of knowing he has a job for the next two years.
Cristie Kerr: Not only did the feisty veteran top one of the best fields of the year at Kingsmill, but she then scoffed at Suzann Pettersen’s intimidation tactics in a post-round presser. Bring on the Solheim Cup!
Depth: The boldfaced stars (Tiger, Phil, DJ, Snedeker, Scott) have won. So, too, have the journeymen (Gay, Streelman, Points). And the next wave (Henley, Horschel, Ernst). So deep is the Tour these days, Luke Donald tweeted that he hadn’t even heard of Ernst until this week. Golf writers who didn’t follow Ernst at UNLV could relate.
The Players: Quirky TPC Sawgrass may yield another surprise winner, but whether the leaders are Tiger and Rory or Matt Jones and David Lingmerth, this much is certain: There is no better theater than 16-17-18 on the weekend.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!: This week Adam Scott returns from his post-Masters hiatus, and his fellow countryman, Brett Rumford, just became the first Australian in 41 years to go back-to-back on the European Tour. South Africans are so 2012.
Phil Mickelson: Lefty kicked away his second title of the season with two late bogeys. With so many close calls in Charlotte (a runner-up, two third-place finishes and seven top-10s in 10 career starts there), Phil is probably relieved that Quail Hollow is hosting a PGA Championship in ’17, not the U.S. Open.
Agronomy: An unusual cold snap pressed officials into scramble mode, and not even fancy camera filters could improve the look of the patchy, bumpy greens at one of the Tour’s best tracks. But here’s one early prediction: Quail Hollow will win Comeback Player (Course) of the Year in 2014.
Age restrictions: Remind me: Why isn’t 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn an LPGA member? The Thai teen proved again last week why she belongs, finishing joint third at Kingsmill, her fourth top-four finish in as many starts. If she were a member, Jutanugarn would be fifth in earnings ($404,970). Bet the commish wishes he had a mulligan.
Weather: Wind, fog, frost, snow and rain – at this rate, the Tour should brace for earthquakes, wildfires and avalanches. Heading to the back nine of the schedule, a particularly ornery Mother Nature is already 3 up.
Tape delays: Surely in 2013 there is a better alternative for networks than broadcasting a tournament that ended four hours earlier. Let’s stop pretending that mobile alerts, tweets and live leaderboards don’t exist.