Who's Hot and Who's Not on the PGA Tour

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2013

Who's Hot and Who's Not on the PGA Tour

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    On the PGA Tour right now, there are only a few players scorching the fairways (Hint: One of them launched a fiery eruption of fist-pumps after winning the Zurich Classic).

    A few players are stuck in the deep freeze, a few golfers' games are Dufnering and some of last year's best rookies are looking more lost on tour this year than they did in their maiden campaigns.

    Happily, one of the great golf personalities of all time, Boo Weekley, is in the ascendancy. So, the gator-calling Floridian makes the list on the warmer end of the spectrum.

    Beyond Boo, who's hot? Who's not? Read on to find out!

Hot: Guan Tianlang

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    The 14-year-old Asia-Pacific Amateur champion wasn't expected to make the cut at the Masters. Instead, even after a ludicrous slow-play penalty, he was able to secure passage to the weekend at Augusta.

    Moving forward to the golfer's appearance (a sponsor's exemption) at the Zurich Classic. Surely, the dream must come to an end for the teenager, right?

    Apparently not.

    Guan Tianlang, age 14, has made two out of two cuts on the PGA Tour. In the words of Paris Hilton...well, I'm not going to say it, but you get the picture.

Not: Tiger Woods

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    True, Tiger Woods hasn't teed it up since the Masters, where, aside from the whole not winning thing, he played pretty well. However, Tiger traditionally plays at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow a few weeks after the Masters every year. Because of the vagaries of scheduling, the tournament at Quail Hollow is two, rather than three, weeks after the Masters.

    As such, Mr. Woods will be conspicuously absent from the tournament this year. On behalf of golf fans everywhere, Woods' decision is definitely not hot. Additionally, he'll likely only play the Memorial and the Players before the U.S. Open, so his decision to skip this week's tournament will definitely be dissected post hoc if he doesn't win at Merion. 

Hot: Lucas Glover

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    Sure, Lucas Glover had missed the cut in three of his last four tournaments and didn't play overwhelmingly well at the Masters (finished 49th). However, Glover fired four solid rounds at the Zurich Classic to finish in a tie for fourth.

    He may not be blazing hot, but after staring into the abyss, the 2009 U.S. Open champion is at least generating a spark.

Not: Keegan Bradley

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    Keegan Bradley's third-round 82 at the Masters this year had the golfer looking quite icy. When he rebounded with a 69 on Sunday at Augusta, it rather looked like the St. John's alum had righted the ship.

    Not so, apparently, as he missed the cut at the Zurich Classic.

    Bradley's play this year leading up to the Masters had been quite solid (five top 10s); however, with an abysmal showing in that tournament and a missed cut in New Orleans, his game is clearly in a deep freeze at present.

Hot: Ken Looper

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    You know Ken Looper, right? Just kidding. Ninety-nine percent of golf fans likely have no idea who Looper is. The quick notes on Looper at the Zurich this week read as follows: Local product. Monday qualifier. Making his first career start.

    If the pinnacle of your success in professional golf is earning a few grand on the Hooters Tour, then just getting in to the field of a PGA Tour event means you're pretty hot, right?

    Looper, however, didn't just make the cut: He did it with a second-round 66 and finished tied for 21st for the week.

Not: Charlie Beljan

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    A contender for Rookie of the Year last year, Charlie Beljan (of panic attack/Disney victory fame) hasn't exactly built on his early success thus far in 2013.

    Beljan has missed the cut more often than he's made it, and he followed a fine opening-round 67 with a second-round 76 at the Zurich Classic.

    Not hot.

Hot: Jimmy Walker

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    The 13-year tour veteran has made the cut in every tournament he's entered in 2013. He also gets high marks for an on-course fashion turnaround courtesy of Iliac Golf. More to the point, though, Walker finished tied for eighth at the Zurich Classic and continues his solid play.

    Although he's not in in danger of boiling over, Walker is certainly more than lukewarm at the moment. Look for his quality play to continue.

Not: Phil Mickelson

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    Oh, Philip Alfred.

    Mickelson hasn't put a peg in the ground since going 77, 73 on the weekend at Augusta. However, it's worth remembering just how historically awful that performance (and his 54th-place finish) were from a golfer so accustomed to finishing in the top 10 at Augusta.

    There's no way around it: Phil Mickelson is not hot right now.

Hot: Graeme McDowell

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    Graeme McDowell has won a tournament on the PGA Tour this year and opened a bar. What more is there to say? G-Mac is hot right now.

    Additionally, how sweet is that RBC Heritage winner's jacket?

Not: Hunter Mahan

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    Hunter Mahan made a mess of the Masters, firing 76, 82. He missed the cut in his previous start before the season's first major, too, and finished in 91st at the RBC Heritage.

    For a player who is supposed to be one of the best American golfers, as well as one of the best golfers without a major victory, such play is unacceptable.

    Mr. Mahan is ice cold.

Hot: Americans

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    At the Zurich Classic, the top nine players on the leaderboard were Americans. Perhaps it was the work of some New Orleans voodoo, but the young guns from the United States looked very strong.

    No golfer was hotter than Billy Horschel, however, whose victory celebration still looks as fresh, earnest and raw after the 10th viewing as it did when the golfer holed his winning put.


Not: Jonas Blixt

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    Another player who was on the short list for Rookie of the Year consideration, Jonas Blixt really mailed it in during the final rounds of the Zurich Classic, shooting 74, 75. The only player to card a worse final score for the tournament was Guan Tianlang.

    Mr. Blixt is not exactly en fuego.

Hot: D.A. Points

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    D.A. Points won the Shell Houston Open (no small feat) and hadn't missed a cut heading in to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

    An impressive final-round 65 saw him move into second place at minus-19. D.A. is hot right now.

Not: Casey Wittenberg

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    One of the slower players on tour, Casey Wittenberg's meticulousness hasn't really paid dividends for the golfer. He missed the cut handily at the Zurich Classic and has missed the cut in five of his last six tournaments.

    Always something of a streaky player, this sustained campaign of poor form is a disappointment from Wittenberg. And the slow play? Definitely not hot.

Hot: Bubba Watson

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    The 2011 Masters champion, Bubba Watson, followed up his victory with a near-missed cut at the Masters and a final-round 77.

    He played quite well at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, however, and appears to have righted the ship. Watson finished in a tie for 15th after a strong final-round 66. This is much more in line with what we expect from a Masters champion.

Not: Ryo Ishikawa

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    He seems to have another sponsor's exemption and another crop of outfits at every tour sop. All of the aforementioned, however, can't help Ryo Ishikawa's game, and the young sensation continues to disappoint.

    Indeed, instead of winning tournaments in the U.S. Ishikawa is struggling to make cuts, having done so in only five of 11 events.

    At least his clothes all match nicely, though.

Hot: Luke Donald

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    The former world No. 1 didn't play much heading into the season's first major. However, with a tie for 25th at the Masters and a tie for third at the RBC Heritage, Donald is clearly heading in a good direction.

    Again, he is a player who is expected to win more on tour and to contend in multiple major championships (if not to win them). The current route: top 10s and steady play won't get the job done for Donald in the long run; however, with a tie for third at the RBC Heritage, the golfer is heating up and heading toward his eventual first major victory.

Not: Jason Dufner

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    Jason Dufner's game is slumped against the wall dejectedly Dufnering at the moment.

    He finished a bland 42nd at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, in addition to a missed cut leading in to the Masters (and an underwhelming tie for 20th there).

Hot: Boo Weekley

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    Boo Weekley strung together four solid rounds to finish tied for sixth at the Zurich Classic. He's in the midst of something of a resurgence in 2013, after a sub-standard 2012 campaign.

    He's made 10 of 11 cuts this year and has found a spell of form after a year (2012) in which he made only 13 of 25 cuts.

    The better Boo plays, the more we get to see of him and the more interesting PGA Tour telecasts become.

    Here's hoping Boo stays hot.

Not: Ricky Barnes

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    What's the deal with Ricky Barnes? Every time he cards a solid round, he immediately has to counteract the score with an abysmal one?

    He opened the Zurich Classic with an incredible 64 and followed up with a second-round 76.

    Likewise, on Saturday and Sunday: 66, 74.

    Also not hot: Ricky's painter's cap.