Thursday, August 11, 2011

2012 PGA Tour Players To Watch Out For

Since the PGA Championship is coming up soon, that is the beginning to the end of the 2011 golf season on the PGA Tour. So I wanted to take a look at some players that I think could ‘do some things’ in 2012.

Nick Watney

Driving – 36th
Putting – 5th
Short Game – 9th
Danger Zone – 6th

Watney’s weakness seems to be that he just has not done much in the Majors this year (46th at Masters, Cut in both the US and British Opens). Still, he plays all of the big events and still puts up great stats and wins a lot of money. And he had a great year in the Majors in 2010. If there’s a guy that could win 2 majors in one year, Watney is it.

Rickie Fowler

Driving – 109th
Putting – 19h
Short Game – 150th
Danger Zone – 14th

A lot of people claim that Steve Marino is the ‘best player to have not won a tournament’, but Rickie’s #’s clearly outshine Marino’s at this point and Rickie has clearly come closer to winning this year than Marino. I think Fowler hurt himself earlier this season with some driving woes. He was ranked in the 150’s in Advanced Total Driving earlier this year and now has it down to 109 which is pretty much about average. Those early tournaments tend to favor good putting a bit more, but I think the driver held him back. But last year he was a good driver of the ball. I expect him to get it all together soon and really get on a roll.

Scott Stallings

Driving – 69th
Putting – 86th
Short Game – 167th
Danger Zone – 17th

Stallings has been a strong Danger Zone player who hits it a long ways and has been a decent putter and good driver of the ball all season long. From my research it’s pretty typical that rookies will struggle at either Driving, Putting or Danger Zone play. It appears the most common struggle is with the putting. I think with Driving and Danger Zone play, the big key is clubhead speed. If the rookie struggles there, but generates a lot of clubhead speed…as long as they can get another year on Tour they usually fix those issues. Stallings has shown he can adjust to life on the Tour and may be a young player to watch out for.

Tommy Gainey

Driving – 43rd
Putting – 87th
Short Game – 146th
Danger Zone – 44th

Not only do I feel Rickie Fowler is better than Marino, I actually think Gainey has more potential to win a tournament than Marino (now watch Marino win the PGA). He’s a far better Danger Zone player than Marino (currently ranked 127th) and can drive it better than Marino. Furthermore, judging from the stats, it appears that Gainey hits up on his driver adding a lot of distance.

Gainey’s rookie year, 2009, was marred with awful putting and a poor short game, but some promise with the driver and the Danger Zone. In fact, Scott Stalling reminds me a lot of him although Stallings is far more refined and generates about 5 mph more of clubhead speed (118 vs. 113 mph). Still, I think Gainey has learned the ropes and will likely be a steady driver and Danger Zone player for next few years and with experience a little better putting, I can see him winning a couple of tournaments next season.

Chris Couch

Driving – 21st
Putting – 35th
Short Game – 138th
Danger Zone – 38th

Couch has flown under the radar this year, but has made 15 out of 16 cuts with 3 top-10’s and 5 top-25’s. In fact, the one cut he missed he dropped out due to injury.

His big weakness is his wedge game, which doesn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things on the PGA Tour. Particularly since he went from one of the worst Short Game play rankings to 138th, which is in the below average to mediocre range. But still, one can work with that. He’s got the ‘big’ parts down like the driving, putting and Danger Zone play. He also generates a lot of clubhead speed (ranked 11st fastest on Tour). He still hits it very long, but generates a lot of spin on the ball, which may not be optimal for distance, but I think it allows him to keep the ball in play. If he can stay healthy and get into more tournaments, I could see him having a very successful 2012.

Dustin Johnson

Driving – 15th
Putting – 162nd
Short Game – 162nd
Danger Zone – 2nd

Obviously, the talent is there, but he has to fix the putting issue or he’ll just keep missing out. At the way he drives the ball and plays from the Danger Zone, average putting will do him well and that typically is what happens with players like Johnson who start winning majors…they go from being a bad putter to an average putter. He’s also referred to the guy that hits it the furthest of anybody on Tour into the wind. And when he misses, he doesn’t miss big time nearly as often as the other bombers do. I think his game suits all 4 majors the best, the question is can he turn around his poor putting?

Gary Woodland

Driving – 10th
Putting – 159th
Short Game – 149th
Danger Zone – 39th

He reminds me of Dustin Johnson, just a little less refined. He’s another guy who was a rookie in 2009 who struggled in some areas, particularly putting and Danger Zone. But, he generates a ton of clubhead speed and wound up getting himself back on Tour and dramatically improving his Danger Zone play which was all that was needed to get him his first Tour win and a lot of good finishes.

Charley Hoffman

Driving – 45th
Putting – 141st
Short Game – 30th
Danger Zone – 26th

For my money, as sound of a golf swing as anybody out on Tour and he has the stats to prove it. He also generates a lot of clubhead speed. Furthermore, he improved his short game quite a bit this season.

However, his putting is still holding him back and I get the feeling he’ll try doing things like going to a long putter and finding it to be little help to him.

Martin Laird

Driving – 51st
Putting – 42nd
Short Game – 64th
Danger Zone – 67th

Laird is in the ‘pretty darn good at everything’ category at this point and he already has 2 victories, so he’s primed for an ultra successful season as much as anybody on Tour. I also liked Brendon De Jonge, but I don’t like his low launching drives relative to his driver speed. That’s often an indication that the player could soon start struggling with the driver. Laird generates more clubhead speed (117 vs. 113 mph) and launches it much better.

Kyle Stanley

Driving – 37th
Putting – 183rd
Short Game – 68th
Danger Zone – 23rd

Only 23 years old and as a rookie he’s done well at everything except for putting. He’s 8th in driving distance and generates about 118 mph of clubhead speed from his 150 pound frame. Given he’s a rookie, there’s a good chance he could greatly improve on the putting with a year under his belt.


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