Paging the PGA Tour’s class of young rising stars. What’s happened to them this year? I’m talking about guys like Anthony Kim, Adam Scott, Camilo Villegas and even Sergio Garcia (who isn’t that young anymore but fits in the category). They all have multiple wins on Tour, but ‘09 hasn’t treated them well.
Perhaps they’ve become complacent. They never had to fight hard for their early successes. AK and Camilo won twice last year. Adam won a tournament each year between 2006-2008. Sergio only has two victories on the Tour. Aside from Camilo, who has made 16 of 18 cuts this season, the others haven’t even been in contention on a consistent basis. Sergio had a chance last week, but in standard Serg style, he choked. None of them have won a major.
Sure, AK and Adam have dealt with injuries. Adam is also tweaking his swing. Then there are his girl problems — similar story to Sergio. (Don’t even get me started.) We know break-ups are tough, but they should be able to separate their professional and personal lives. Think about it this way: The majority of people have a “regular” day job and they still show up to work and get it done. Yes, golf is more mental, but that’s not a valid excuse. Man up.
These players have it all — money, lucrative endorsement deals, fame, private jets, girls, whatever their hearts desire. AK has had a mediocre year at best, but he’s won almost $2 million. The effort is fairly minimal yet the rewards are quite high. Perhaps this has made them a bit lazy. No doubt they practice, but how much? I’m not saying they’re not “trying,” but there’s not as much on the line for them.
Or is it their “bomb and gouge it” style? They’re excellent ballstrikers, but other than AK, they struggle with putting (ahem, Adam and Serg).
Of course, the fields have become more competitive over the past few years. Winning isn’t easy — Tiger Woods has skewed our perception, making it look somewhat effortless. Other than Tiger simply being a super-human, he truly thinks he can win every time. If he’s not at the very top of the leaderboard at the end of Sunday, he might as well have finished DFL.
It seems like some players don’t necessarily care about winning because even if they finish in the middle of the pack, they still make a good living. Look at Stewart Cink — before he won his first major, the British Open, he was already 10th on the all-time PGA career money list. While he’s played on Tour for about 15 years, he “only” has 6 victories. He’s a great player, but isn’t necessarily considered a marquee player, so to speak.
Golf needs big stars like AK and Camilo. They’re fun to watch and more important, they’re great personalities. Fans like myself want to see them in contention regularly. In the last decade or so, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh consistently won or were always in contention — they’ll still be competitive on Tour for a while, but their time is limited and they aren’t exactly the most captivating guys. It’s time for the current generation to replace them. They need to rise to the occasion. Tiger drives ratings and the sport’s popularity, but it’d certainly be a boost if we could turn on the TV every Sunday and see those names week in and week out.
Hopefully this year has just been an anomaly. It’d be a shame to waste so much talent.
With all that said, what can give the players more incentive to finish better consistently?