Six To Watch This Summer


The kids are almost out of school and the PGA Tour schedule will begin to heat up over the coming weeks. As I look at various publications and keep up with money lists, media guides and world rankings, Ive targeted a six pack of players to keep a watchful eye on over the summer.
In this world of what have you done for me lately? each fits nicely into conversation around the water cooler. In no order of importance, here we go:
Davis Love III: Davis hardly needs to be reminded that he hasnt won a tournament since The International in 2003. Loves 03 campaign was nothing short of spectacular and thats much of the reason were looking for more and wondering why we arent seeing the results. He was third on the money list that year with more than $6 million in earnings. This year hes shown signs of getting back to winning ways. Four top 10s and the runner-up finish at the MCI Heritage when Darren Clarke and Peter Lonard battled. I talked with Love that week and he was quick to point out that his son Drew has become quite knowledgeable about money lists and World Rankings.
Three stats dont help the current cause: 108th in driving accuracy, 86th in greens in regulation and 79th in putting. As it stands, 18 PGA Tour victories, including one major and two Players Championships, should get him to the World Golf Hall of Fame someday. I say 'should.' Hes better than those numbers as they stand, and I expect well see another run soon like we saw in 2003.
Mike Weir: He drives it an average of 272.9 yards, which ranks him 158th. That would be a concern except that he ranks 12th in driving accuracy and ninth in greens in regulation. Weir has always been one of the most accurate players and, like Chris DiMarco, hes forced into that because of the lack of true power.
Whats hurting Mike is the flat stick. Hes 123rd on the PGA Tour right now. After winning the Masters we expected even more from the Canadian whose World Ranking was heading north in a hurry. Last year, Weir won the Nissan Open. This year he finished second at Pebble Beach but has only one other top 10 finish. Canadians follow Weir all the time. American followers were growing after 03. I never thought that magical season was a once in a lifetime. But, like Love III, he needs a win to find himself back in conversation about the games top stars.
Jim Furyk: Why watch Furyk this summer? Im quite certain hes ready to get back to his winning ways. Like DLIII, he tied for second at the MCI Heritage and also has three other top 10s. Furyks final-round numbers this year are as follows: 67, 65, 73, 70, 68, 74, 69. Not bad, not bad at all. Jim also lacks for true power at 164th on tour in driving distance. His most impressive stat is the combination of 40th in greens in regulation and 10th in putting. Like Love and Weir, Furyks biggest season came in 2003. The U.S. Open and the Buick Open came his way, leading to a fourth-place finish on the money list. Nobody doubts that Furyk will be in the winners circle again. Its my hunch that itll come this summer, and it may come more than once. Some limb Im going out on, huh?
Sergio Garcia: When Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez is getting more W's and more publicity for contention, then something has to change. This is the time of year Garcia heats up. Aside from the Mercedes Championships, his PGA Tour wins have come at summer sites like the Barclays Classic (formerly the Buick Classic at Westchester), EDS Byron Nelson Championship and The Bank of America Colonial.
Sergio has three top 10s this year thus far, but like Love, he missed the cut at the Masters and hasnt really had a big impact week. With all the talk about great winners on the PGA Tour this year, Sergio needs to find his way into the conversation. Putting is drowning El Nino ' hes 185th this year in that statistic. Tough to win with those numbers, and even tougher to succeed under pressure. Sergio wants majors. Hell get his share, but he needs wins right now ' and soon.
Charles Howell III: It has to happen, right? Hes too good for just one PGA Tour win, right? I think so. So does everyone else. Charles finished third at the Sony Open in Hawaii and then second in his next start at the Buick Invitational. Like Sergio, this American young gun could use a putting lesson or two. Hes 145th in that category.
When you hit greens on the PGA Tour ' youd better make your fair share of birdies. Howell is not. Hes converting at just a 28 percent clip, which ranks him 116th. One of the nice things about Howell to me is that hes a straight shooter. Hes extremely knowledgeable about the game and his numbers. Charles is always striving to get better and that might be the only thing that hurts him. Two years ago, Howell was a member of the Presidents Cup team for the USA. Its no guarantee hell get an opportunity this year ' but for the sake of Americas future in team events, it would be nice if he showed up with at least his second PGA Tour win.
Jay Haas: This man hardly needs any publicity. Hes been talked about more than any player who hasnt won of late. In truth, Haas hasnt won since 1993. But hes accomplished so, so much. His 2003 season had golf observers in disbelief that at the age of 49 he could finish 15th in money and post two runner-up finishes. Last year he made another $2 million and again made the trip to the Tour Championship.
The question now is, Is he slowing down? Haas hasnt missed a cut this year but has just one top 20. I wonder how soon the Champions Tour will come calling full time. His game is certainly PGA Tour quality ' and then some. But Haas could do a lot by winning with regularity on the Champions Tour. I say watch Jay this summer and appreciate his class. He might be switching addresses sooner than we think.
Given all the talk about the Big Four and all the great names whove won this season - including Appleby, Leonard, Harrington, Perry, Scott and Toms - I just cant believe some of these guys mentioned havent found their way yet. Its a long season, I know and Im sure you can come up with your own Ones to Watch list.
Im all ears.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann