Winning on the PGA Tour is the goal of every professional golfer. Contending at a tour event usually leads to one day winning, but this process can take years. In past years, some golfers had to earn their stripes over and over again before they could taste victory.
Well, a funny thing happened in the golf world about two years ago. The Tiger and Phil show seemed to go on hiatus.
This paved the way for a bunch of young golfers to step up and win some tournaments. Some of these players aren’t all that young, but their good play put a big check in their pocket and a winner’s trophy on their mantle.
There have been 12 first-time winners on the PGA Tour so far in 2011. They all have their own unique tales to tell, but I think you can group them into three different groups when we try to make sense of why this has happened.
Surprises: Jhonattan Vegas, Gary Woodland, Brendan Steele, Chris Kirk
It wouldn’t be a PGA Tour season if there weren’t some big surprises thrown in. The surprises started early in 2011. Jhonattan Vegas played well early in the year and got a win at the Bob Hope. Kansan Gary Woodland got a win at the Transitions, and Steele broke through in April at the Valero Texas Open. Kirk broke through this summer at The Viking in Mississippi.
A matter of time: Keegan Bradley, Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Scott Stallings
All four of these golfers appeared destined to win and win big. Keegan Bradley won twice — at the Byron Nelson and he picked up a major at the PGA Championship in Atlanta. Schwartzel won a little old tournament called The Masters. In the last five weeks, Simpson won the Wyndham and Stallings took the title at Greenbrier. All good players and all big titles.
Keegan Bradley discussed his victory, and I’m sure the other players in this group would echo his sentiments. “I have been practicing for this my whole life,” stated Bradley. “Whenever I show up to a tournament, I prepare well and feel like I have a chance to win and the PGA was no different. I had great practice sessions with my coach Jim McClean and felt ready!”
Veterans: Frederik Jacobson, D.A. Points, Harrison Frazar, Scott Piercy
Some players spend decades toiling on and off the PGA and never get that first victory. These players all have waited their turn. Jacobson has been a steady player for years, and he was able to win The Travelers. Points, an Illinois native, has been a pro since 1999 but 2011 is turning into his best season. He won back in February at Pebble Beach. For Harrison Frazar, he’s just about seen it all in golf. The golf world was happy to see this player who turned pro back in 1996 finally get a win this year at the FedEx St. Jude. While Scott Piecy may not have been around as long as Points or Frazar, this 32-year-old player played the best golf in winning the Reno-Tahoe Open. His round included a 11-under-par 61 during his round on Saturday.
Rick Limpert covers sports, technology and events in and around Atlanta. He’s following the PGA Tour as the FedExCup playoffs start.