In Search of a Summer Spark


Summer is just around the corner. And as we all know, the weather is heating up in a hurry. And this is about the time some players begin to catch a hot streak.

Remember a few years back when Kenny Perry caught fire and won his string of tournaments ' Bank of America Colonial, Memorial Tournament and the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee?

Perry is but one example of a list of players who have had great summers. And actually, Kenny, who is coming back from injury in time to prepare to defend next weeks Bank of America Colonial, might benefit from the week in Ft. Worth, Texas ' where he always seems to find the magic.

So lets compile a list, shall we? Who are 10 players who either might - or could -really use a summer hot streak?

In no order of importance, and void of all the statistical numbers, heres my list with thoughts and off the top of my head analysis:

1. Chris DiMarco ' DiMarco would actually be at the top of this list. Hes 100th on the PGA TOUR money list and after spending time in the top 10 in the World Ranking, has slipped to 13th. Had an overseas win earlier this year, but hasnt been able to do it on the PGA TOUR. A ski accident hurt his rhythm. After last years Presidents Cup, who would have thought that Chris wouldnt be on the 2006 Ryder Cup team? Not me, and not you. He still may make it, though he doesnt want to rely on a captains pick ' especially if he hasnt found the form that put him on the automatic list. Better get going ' and get some points.

Paula Creamer
Paula Creamer is still searching for her first win of 2006.
2. Paula Creamer ' Wasnt she supposed to challenge Annika Sorenstam this year for the top spot in the newly created Womens Rolex World Ranking? Tough to do when you are 13th on the money list. Lets face it, we may be expecting too much too soon, but shes the one who brought it up. Right now, Creamer cant seem to put four rounds together. And while shes looking up at Annika on the money list, shes not taking advantage of the Sorenstam whos not even leading that list.

3. Annika Sorenstam ' Yep. Annikas fourth on the money list and trailing Lorena Ochoa, Karrie Webb and Mi Hyun Kim. Thursday on Golf Central we compared Annikas 2005 numbers to her 2006 numbers. Staggering. Shes nowhere close to her standards of a year ago. Do the research ' youll be amazed at things like Driving Accuracy and Scoring Average. Its not a Solheim Cup year, which is good for Europe right now. Amazingly ' its not an Annika year, either.

4. Jose Maria Olazabal ' Jose Maria begins my list of Europeans who need to get on their horse and ride. Hes missed a few Ryder Cups now and would love to get back in the mix. Hes too good not to be among the PGA TOURs elite with consistency. Sure, hes 12th on the PGA TOUR money list. And thats great. But he wants wins. And he wants badly to be at the K Club for the Ryder Cup. Hes too important not to be on a team that will play in Europe. Lets hope he gets there.

5. John Daly ' Remember the John Daly who nearly won the AmEx against Tiger? Remember the Daly who battled Vijay at the Buick Open? Remember Daly who battled Vijay in Houston? Sometimes we forget that amidst all the talk about Daly and the gambling and Daly and the drinking or whatever the latest story is. Fact is Daly is a good guy with an even better heart. His game is in there somewhere and wouldnt it be great if he could repeat the Buick Invitational feat and make us think about his game instead of his bloated position on the money list (140).

6. Ernie Els ' Ernies now outside the top five in the World Ranking. All the talk about the Big Five might just be media hype, but the truth is that players buy into it. They realize where they are on the list. And theres only so much positive to be taken from the under the radar discussions. Ernie wants to be in every discussion about the worlds best players. Now he needs a win before the U.S. Open so he can go in with confidence instead of flying in under the radar.

7. Sergio Garcia ' What can you say about Sergio that hasnt been said many times before? Sergio has won his share of PGA TOUR events. But he needs more of them. Arguably the best tee-to-green player in the world, Sergios problems are around the greens. His opening round at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship wasnt a good sign. A contending Sergio is great for the game. He is among the most charismatic in all of golf. Now all he needs is to get hot and be among the biggest winners in golf. Forty-fourth on the money list at any point in the season is not what he wants. And trust me, television networks want him in the mix as often as they can get him.

8. Hale Irwin ' Go ahead and say it: Hales had his run. Well, guess what ' thats what carried the Champions Tour for a number of years. Hale played the role of dominator to perfection. Hes fifth on the money list and the Champions Tour could really use a summer splash by its most decorated Champion to spice things up.

9. Peter Jacobsen ' Heres another one. Jake might not be the greatest player on the Champions Tour but he is the greatest showman of his day. But that only works when he wins and Jakes been dry for a while. Cmon Peter, 12th place in money is great at the ATM, but not with the FAN. We need a run.

10. Ricky Barnes ' This might be a surprise. But he had such promise and such appeal that a Nationwide Tour run would be great fun. Top 20 gets you to the PGA TOUR next year. But 45th-place finishes at the Virginia Beach Open won't get you anywhere close to it. A summer hot streak (and thats all it takes is three or four really good weeks) and we might have some flash to go with Camilo Villegas next year.

Im sure you can give me some other names. (Sean OHair comes to mind ' so does Michelle Wie and so does Davis Love.) I didnt put Tiger here because his summer schedule is TBD at this point. And while a big summer of wins would do a lot to energize a somewhat non-descript PGA TOUR season to this point, it's hard to find reason to think that does much to motivate Tiger right now.

But think hard. Check the stats if you like, but sell me. I wont just take a name for an answer. Good luck.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann