My first article detailed the disappointments of 2008 on the PGA Tour. I don't want everyone thinking I am a "half empty glass" kind of guy, so I wanted to bring you another installment. I will go over some of 2008's pleasant surprises.
Don't worry 2009 will not disappoint, there will be many more surprises to come. The 2009 season is drawing very near! The Mercedes Championship will commence the day after my birthday on January 8th.
Tune into hardcoresportsradio.com between 4:00 pm and 6:00pm on January 7th to see who Cam Stewart and I will be selecting in our weekly six packs!
This guy earned $1.7 M in his rookie campaign. A good chunk of that was from his victory at The Turning Stone Championship. He is one of the young guns on tour that is going to produce. In 2006, his best finish on the Nationwide was T50!
Good thing he qualified for the PGA Tour in an event in Dec '07. Going from $0 earned in '07 to $1.7M in '08 is in my opinion the finest leap, and most pleasant surprise of '08.
Oh, and by the way, did you know this guy can dunk too?
Greg's earnings on the PGA Tour in '07 were just a hair over $17,000. He was pretty much relegated to the Champions Tour and considered a fond memory to most people in the golf world. Then 2008 happened, the stars and planets lined up just right, and PRESTO! Ta-dah! Greg Norman is atop the leaderboard of the British Open at the start of round four!
He was over 150/1 odds to win the thing. Suggesting he was going to win before it started would have prompted ridicule for certain. How impressive to do what he did in the conditions he did it in. Let's face it, the weather at the British Open is not known for being so great, but this year was especially brutal considering the massive winds that were ripping through Turnberry.
Mr. Norman unfortunately posted a +7 on the final day, dropping in contention to Paddy Harrington and Ian Poulter. I will still say his 2800 percent increase over 2007 was one heck of an increase! Oh yeah, he also came in T5 at the Champions Tour British Open as well, the following week.
This Rhode Islander may be relatively unknown to the average Joe, but what is not average about this Brad is that he increased his earnings on tour 409 percent, and made just shy of a million smackeroonies in '08. I think that you will see Adamonis much more on the PGA Tour and his graduation from The Nationwide tour may be complete.
Kenny was one of the premier golfers in the world in 2003, then he slowly slipped out of the spotlight. Well, he got that light a-shinin' ever so brightly in 2008. He lost some weight, which undoubtedly helped. He increased his earnings 289 percent over '07 and made $4.6M!
2008 proved to be his most monetarily successful year on tour. Did you know? Kenny had a nine-week stretch where he placed T10 six times, three of those being wins, and one being a runner up. My, how Tigerlike.
Rumors have it that he likes to fly around his neighborhood while donning a blue outfit with a red cape. Something about a giant red "S" on his chest??? Kenny was truly a Man of Steel in 2008.
Some of us were expecting big things from young Mr. Kim. I am not sure we were expecting what he delivered in 2008. His run was nothing short of amazing, and he has catapulted himself to a level that may be hard to maintain, as expectations have been raised a few bars.
From what I have seen from this specimen, he is pure unadulterated raw talent. This kid is going to give Tiger a run for his money. Let's just all hope he keeps it together, and continues to grow and have fun. Please keep Michelle Wie's parents as far away form this kid as possible!
Oh, did I mention he increased his salary by 201 percent over 2007 by taking in a cool $4.6M? This guy is a stud and you can tell he is genuinely having a GREAT time playing on the PGA Tour.
My good friend Cam Stewart predicted that this guy was going to win the AT&T Classic. So did I. At 25/1 odds and a good track record here, he was a good pick.
Unfortunately for Ryuji, this tour stop at TPC Sugarloaf outside of Atlanta has been eliminated from the 2009 circuit. Ryuji (I love that name) improved his earnings in '08 by an impressive 114 percent bringing him home over $3M in winnings last year. Here's a few cool stats for you to consider about this budding Japanese ace:
- Longest drive in '08 was 414 yds
- Putting average is 1.758 which ranks 18th on tour
- Final round average score is 69.4, and that ranks 6th on tour
If this guy is hanging around on Sunday, no one is safe!
This 26-year-old Californian increased his earnings rather nicely in 2008. He had a nice 102 percent increase over 2007. I included him in my top 10 for another great reason, he is consistent and is getting better, consistently better.
In '06 he had a GREAT year on the Nationwide Tour netting about $200K. Then in 2007 he rakes in almost $650k his first year on the PGA Tour. He doubles that in '08. If the word trendsetter needed someones picture beside it, John Merrick's would suffice nicely. Watch this guy shine in '09.
This guy has been around the block. Some people have referred to this guy as a true gearbox. Like him or not, you have to be impressed with his efforts in 2008. With 44 years of age and 20 years of professional golf under his belt, he had his best year EVER in 2008.
He was a runner up twice, and only missed the cut four times in 26 events, soaring his earnings an impressive 91 percent over 2007. Perhaps a nickname change from "gearbox" to "fine wine" may be in order for 2009.
The biggest unknown Cavalier of the Tour has got to be Steve Marino. I've had my eye on him for two years now. This guy did everything there was to do in golf last year BESIDES win a tournament. He increased his winning nicely up 78 percent from the previous year. Unless you are a true golf enthusiast, chances are you have never even heard of Steve "DCMD" (Don't Call Me Dan) Marino.
Trust you me, you will see him attain his first PGA victory(ies) in 2009. He has WAY too much talent to not win, Check this out:
- He played in 32 events in 2008 and only missed 5 cuts
- He placed in the T10 six times in '08, four of those being T5 or better
- He ranks first in total birdies made in 2008 with 440
- He also ranks first in Par 5 performance averaging 4.63
- Did you know his longest drive in 2008 was 424 yards? That's the third longest bomb hit in tour in 2008
DCMD will win two tournaments this year, and make well into the $3M mark. You heard it here first.
What time is it? For Mike Weir it was time for a swing change. He had the arduous task of undergoing a major swing change for the upcoming 2008 season. Did it work? You tell me: This guy pulled in over $3M in earnings (up 52 percent from 2007) and he DIDN'T WIN ONCE! That says something right there.
He was runner up in the Deutsche Bank Championship, as well as The Memorial. He also had a tremendous second half of the season. This Canadian Southpaw could be dangerous in 2009, keep him on your radar screen for sure.