As June wanes and the heat of summer begins to find its way into our lives, it is hard to realize the PGA Tour season is already over halfway completed. July is almost here and I figured, when better than now to conduct a Mid-Season recap of the PGA Tour season. This could be done multiple ways, but sports fans love stars, so we will recap the season by taking a closer look at each player in the top 10 of the world rankings. I will look at the season they’ve had so far and give a grade based report (A, B, C, D, F) along with insight. There are a lot of good players outside of the top ten probably worth looking at, but focusing on the top 10 gives us a pretty good look at what 2012 has fed golf fans.
10. Hunter Mahan Grade: A-
A couple shanks and a couple wins: the most simple way to delve into Hunter’s 2012 campaign. His no.3 ranking in the FedEx cup season long standings is a strong indication that he has been in good form this season, pretty much a lock for this fall’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. His wins at the WGC Accenture Match Play and Shell Houston Open came almost within a month of one another and outside of the wins, only has one other top 10 and only one missed cut. Other than that, he’s pretty much just been a consistent bank depositing cowboy. Last week’s final round 61 at the Travelers was nuts. I forsee another win out of Hunter this season. Maybe this week in D.C.
9. Justin Rose Grade: B+
A litany of top ten finishes coupled with a victory at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral has put Rose off to a rosey first-half of 2012. He has played each weekend of every tournament he’s entered and has been steadily efficient all season. Outside of his win, he hasn’t been in contention too many other times on the PGA Tour. These guys are constantly talking about contention, contention, contention. They want to put themselves in contention. I’d like to see Rose do more of it this summer and fall. Players at the top of the game rank their success by wins, and Rose has one, but his lack of contention week in and week out leads me to dip his grade into the B category -albeit a high B.
8. Jason Dufner Grade: A+
Through the first three players, I feel like the easy teacher handing out good grades on command, but I promise you this A+ is deserved. Dufner was a relatively unknown, middle of the road PGA Tour player with no flashy skills or exceptional talents and he posted two victories and climbed to within the top 10 of the world ranking. Sounds pretty A+ caliber to me. Dufner has been a popular topic on USGolfTV, with his Dopey from Snow White demeanor and tremendous play this year, but it is play that I expect to continue. His ball striking has been soooooo (6 o’s worthy) good. Duffy will keep it up and we’ll see plenty more of his…smiles (?) to come.
7. Matt Kuchar Grade: A
I just keep handing them out, but this is another deserved A. Kooooooooch, as he is called by fans, has been another model of true consistency this season. His win at a major (a 5th major) at the PLAYERS is the notch that bumped him to A category. Amazing statistic here – in 14 starts on Tour this season, Kuchar has zero missed cuts and get this, 10 top 25s. He plays well week in and week out. I can’t watch his swing much more, because I don’t want that flat swing in my mind to anymore ruin me, but boy oh boy has he again been a tough cookie on Tour.
6. Bubba Watson Grade: A
Again, I know, but this is more than just his Master victory I am basing this grade on. The Masters victory gave me the A+ grade I wanted to give, then the entire month of May not playing followed by back to back missed cuts at the Memorial and the US Open made me want to drop his grade to a C. Then a strong finish at the Travelers with a weekend pair of 65s boosted the grade again to an A. Bubba has two runner up finishes, 5 top tens and a major championship. The only reason it isn’t an A+ is because of the lack of multiple victories and the oopsy-daises month of May/early June. We all love a little Bubba golf!
5. Webb Simpson Grade: A
His transformation has been a fun one to watch, but the 26 year old’s victory at the US Open really put the topping on the cake (I don’t think that’s how the saying goes). His solid season would have resulted in a grade of a B to B-, but he won the US Open. Come on, he won the US Open (even the Jungle Bird couldn’t stop him). A!
4. Tiger Woods Grade: B
Multiple wins for anyone leads me to give an A for a grade, except for Tiger. I hold Tiger to a different standard. It’s the same way I treat LeBron James – fantastic player, but had to get a ring for it to really matter. Tiger’s ring is major championships. He did not have to win one in order to earn an A, because of his victories at Arnie and Jack’s places, but he needed to contend. He was a non-factor at Augusta and a weekend fade away at Olympic. Tiger wants majors and the only way to get them is through contention. He needed to be in contention at the majors in order to see an A grade. Two wins and a runner up at the Honda is enough for a B, probably even in Tiger’s eyes.
3. Lee Westwood Grade: B
For Lee at this point in his career, we know the type of player he is. He is a formidable force every week he tees it up and he will compete in every event he enters. In 8 events in the states, he is 8/8 in cuts made and 5/8 in top tens. None of this proves anything to us the type of player he is. We all know he is world class and capable, but for Lee its about wins. in 154 career starts, he only has two victories on Tour. This year, top tens in both majors gave him opportunities, but he was never serious contender in either event late into Sunday evening. Lee needs to win more and win himself a major before he becomes another Colin Montgomerie. I am going to go a little Ben Crenshaw here, but I have a really good feeling about him at this year’s British Open. I’m gunna leave it at that.
2. Rory McIlroy Grade: C
Rory’s season has been very good. 4 top 3s in his first 5 events was an absolutely torrid start for the young Irish lad, but his cooling off come Masters time and his plethora of missed cuts in the past two months has left a sour taste in my mouth, as I’m sure it has his. He put himself in contention at the FedEx St. Jude a few weeks ago, but a hooked tee shot into the water on the 72nd hole left us wondering, Whaaa? Rory has more talent in his pinky finger than Graeme McDowell has in his entire body (a quote uttered by Graeme, I’m not taking stabs here…) and we need to see more of it. The start he was off to put the Nelson of ’45 season in my mind, wondering how many times this kid could possibly win out here. The cool off would be no surprise if it was any other run of the mill Tour player, but this is Rory McIlroy. He needs to play better and I am probably the last person telling him that. Two more majors and a Ryder Cup left Rory, lets see what type of moxie you have…
1. Luke Donald Grade: C
Same song different tune. He won at the Transitions in March…whoopdie-do. Honestly, for Luke, it’s the same thing as it is for Lee and Rory really. Major championship contention. In the two majors this year, Luke has fallen dismally short of expectations finishing T32 and MC at the Masters and US Open respectfully. He has some more top tens on his resume as we expect from him, but he needs to add a championship to the mantle. He has proven himself as the top ranked player in the world from a standpoint of the essence of consistency, but golf needs more from a number one player in the world. I’m sorry Luke, but you’ve got to win a major. But you already know that.