Few and Far Between


These opportunities dont come around very often. At least not for the average player. Or the good player. Or even the very good player.
For many, the opportunity to win a professional golf tournament is like the out-of-state grandmother visit ' from the one you like: it only comes around once or twice a year.
Amy and Chris DiMarco
Chris DiMarco gets a hug from his wife/caddie after his first win in four years.
It doesnt matter on which tour you compete, be it the PGA, European, LPGA or A.G. Spanos; most players dont get very many legitimate chances to win on an annual basis.
Of course, this doesnt include the Superstar player, i.e. Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. Theres a reason that they rank 1, 2 and 3 in the world, and its because they not only win multiple tournaments each season, but they constantly put themselves in position to do so. They give themselves more opportunities to win than everyone else.
And they convert on quite a few of those occasions.
Since the start of the 2004 season, at least one of those three players has been present in 75 tour events. And theyve combined to win 26 times. That means when Woods, Singh or Mickelson is in the field, then the fields odds of winning are reduced to about 65 percent.
As if these three dont make it hard enough on everyone else to try and get a victory, the depth of talent from tour-to-tour is so deep that the average player ' or the good, or very good ' must really be on his game in order to put himself into prime position.
And we all know that golf is as fickle as the Scottish winds; a players game can come and go without warning, staying for an all-too-short amount of time and leaving for an indomitable period.
Players have to take advantage of those opportunities when they blow their way; not blow those opportunities. Chris DiMarco has done plenty of the latter; Sunday, he finally did the former.
Its easy to think of DiMarco as an unfortunate golfing soul over the last few years, what with his zero victories and his 11 top-3s since the 2002 Phoenix Open. But its actually just the opposite: hes been one of the lucky ones.
DiMarco has had more chances to win over the last four years than just about everyone not named Tiger, Vijay or Phil.
Over the last two years alone, hes four times held at least a share of the 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour. And, of course, hes had the success rate of Dan Quayle in the National Spelling Bee. Hes also been within three of the lead entering the final round three times during that stretch and has come up empty as well.
Now, he finally has something to take home with him other than a hefty consolation check.
DiMarco was once again in the pole possession at the European Tours Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. And instead of shooting something in the 70s and walking off the 18th with that Peyton Manning This-cant-be-happening-to-me-again look, he went out, carded a 67 and took home his first individual title anywhere in a long, long time.
Not that he was counting or anything.
This is four years to the month that I have not been in the winner's circle, said DiMarco, who credited his Presidents Cup performance a year ago with helping him finally come through in the clutch.
It just feels like a weight has been lifted off my back.
The monkey is gone ' but not yet dead and buried. John Daly broke a six-year winless drought when he captured the 2001 BMW International Open in Germany. But it took three more years before he would win again on the PGA Tour.
Mark OMeara won the 2004 Dubai Desert Classic for his first official victory since 98. He hasnt since won.
You would think that this wouldnt happen to DiMarco. You would think that he would certainly ride this momentum to at least one PGA Tour victory this season, perhaps before they even swing on over to Florida.
Hell likely have three or four good chances to win a PGA Tour event this season, which is actually really good for a guy who plays about 25 times.
If you still dont think that thats a healthy amount of opportunities to win on tour just ask somebody like David Toms. Toms is one of the 10 best players in the world. And when hes clicking, hes capable of beating everyone else ranked ahead of him, as he showed at the Sony Open.
Yet, hes seen his chances of winning dwindle with each passing season.
Four times in both 2002 and 2003 he either led or was within three strokes of the lead entering the final round. That number fell to three in 2004. And it was just one in 2005; though, he did make it to the finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, where he routed who else but DiMarco.
So in essence, one of the 10 best players in the entire world had but two very good opportunities to win a tour event all of last season.
Hes already had one such opportunity this year and made the most of it in Honolulu. Hell being doing very well just to have a couple of more of them over the next 10 months.

That being the case, think about what it must be like for those guys outside the top 10 in the world rankings, outside the top 20, outside the top 50. Many of the players on the PGA Tour have to be thrilled just to have one shot at a title each season.
Chad Campbell was enthused to have had the chance to win the Sony Open a couple of weeks ago. And after getting dusted by fellow 54-hole co-leader Toms that Sunday in Hawaii, he was even more ecstatic to have a shot at redemption seven days later at the Bob Hope.
Prior to the Sony, it had been since the 2004 Bank of America Colonial that he held at least a share of the lead entering the final round in a tour event. Last year, his best final-round starting position was five strokes back at the Chrysler Championship. He did lose in a playoff to Adam Scott at the Nissan Open, but that tournament was weather-reduced to just 36 holes.
Now, he was in contention to win a tournament for the second straight week ' this time as the outright leader heading to Sunday.
And this time things fell in his favor. Despite a shaky start to his back nine, Campbell composed himself to shoot 1-under 71 and win his third career tour event, and his first in nearly two years.
Good thing, too, because, at best, hes looking at only one or two more solid chances to win over the remainder of the year.
These things are few and far between. You dont have to tell that to Scott Verplank, who started the final round at the Hope one back of Campbell and finished three in arrears, in a tie for second with Jesper Parnevik, thanks to a closing 1-over 73
Its been nearly five years since Verplank cashed in a winning ticket on tour. Since his triumph in the 2001 Bell Canadian Open, he has now nine times led or been within three of the lead entering the final round. That includes two times in 2003, two times in 2004 and two times in 2005.
Two times a year. Thats all a player like Verplank, a guy consistently ranked inside the top 40 in the world, gets a year to have a quality chance at winning a PGA Tour event.
Two times. Thats it. And, unfortunately for him, hes already wasted one of them.
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