Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Bill Haas (+7%): The words most commonly used to describe his game are: feel player, uncomplicated, naturally gifted. Another one: Consistent. Since 2010, only Rory (nine) and Tiger (eight) have more PGA Tour titles than Haas’ six.
Branden Grace (+6%): The 26-year-old South African has largely been ignored in the States because of his record (three top-30s), but it’s increasingly difficult to overlook his current form (two wins in his last four starts), his Euro Tour résumé (six wins) and how he closed out the Qatar Masters – nestling a driver on the par-4 16th to within 5 feet for an eagle-2. Stout.
Phoenix fans (+5%): Here’s guessing they will be on their best – in other words, worst – behavior as the Tour’s biggest party comes to town. Robert Allenby’s first-round tee time can’t arrive soon enough.
Justin Thomas (+3%): A winner at every level, he is the player who will challenge Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Hideki Matsuyama for best under-25 player.
Media crush (+1%): Super Bowl Media Day is seven shades of stupid, but if even a handful of the lightly credentialed hacks make their way to TPC Scottsdale, it could produce a few delightfully awkward exchanges.
DJ narratives (-1%): Predictably, here come the storylines of personal growth and redemption, of wakeup calls and epiphanies, the product of Johnson’s five-day, over-coached p.r. campaign. We’ll see. More interesting to this observer is learning whether he can finally unlock his world-beating potential.
Phil (-2%): Solid start to the season (T-24), but over the past year he has talked repeatedly about how “close” he is to putting it all together. Now 44, time isn’t on his side anymore – is it possible that this is the new norm?
Humana (-3%): The title sponsor is out, and the Palm Springs-area tournament also bid farewell to PGA West’s fun Palmer Private course. If the finale moves across the street, to the TPC Stadium, there won’t be nearly as many pyrotechnics. Shame.
Kooch (-6%): With three late bogeys on Saturday, and then a number of squandered opportunities in the final round, it’s little wonder he has sunk to 1-for-10 when holding at least a share of the 36-hole lead.
Robert Allenby (-10%): Patrick Reed’s “top-five” boast and Ted Bishop’s “lil girl” tweet were the top quotes of 2014. Go ahead and pencil in this one for top billing in ’15: “It’s such a shame that people are focusing on whether the story is true.” Uh … probably because it so obviously was not.