Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
First-time winners (+7%): Some talents are more promising than others (hello, JT), but the trend underscores the incredible depth on Tour and how difficult it is to win these days.
Russell Knox (+5%): Nothing has come easily for the Scot, who learned how to compete at Jacksonville University, needed five years just to reach the Tour, got into the HSBC as an alternate and then had to shoot 20 under to top a world-class field for his first title. A satisfying win, to be sure.
Phil (+4%): There are plenty of reasons (age, health, putting) to believe that 2016 will bring more of the same, but Mickelson’s decision to dump the best swing coach on the planet should keep him engaged for the foreseeable future. And besides, aren’t expectations always best kept low? That way, it’s more fun when he pops up and contends.
Bernhard Langer (+3%): Yes, it’s reasonable to wonder what his future holds without that trusty long wand, but first let’s appreciate what he’s done: At age 58, he is still the best player on the senior circuit, becoming the first old-timer to capture three Charles Schwab Cup titles.
Kevin Kisner (+2%): The ultimate what-could-have-been year, with four runner-up finishes. Kis has way too much game to go winless in ’16, too.
Fall fields (-2%): What do the three fall events in the States have in common? Each has had at least one round suspended because of darkness. Either speed up play in the dwindling daylight, or slash the fields (132/144) even more.
DJ (-3%): He suffered one of the worst breaks of the year, with his wedge shot clanking off the flagstick and rolling back into the pond, leading to a momentum-killing double in Shanghai. At least his outlook improved once he returned home.
Rory (-4%): His star-crossed second half continued at the HSBC, as a simple club sandwich led to a nasty bout of food poisoning, a 10-pound weight loss and a lethargic performance. Sigh.
Roberto Castro (-6%): Threatening to run away in Mississippi, he threw up a 75 (nearly five shots worse than the field average) during the stop-and-start third round. From four ahead to two back, he eventually tied for fourth.
Boo’s bashing (-8%): To be fair, we agree – interest is low, the overall product is diluted and the fall series seems to serve only as an opportunity to give rookies and the Tour’s middle class a head start – but no one is forcing Weekley, or anyone else, to play these C-level events. If players like Weekley (who has made $15 million playing golf) want an offseason to hunt and fish, well, they can take a few months off – they just better play well at the start of ’16 or risk falling way behind in the FedEx race. Stop complaining.