PGA Tour Stars Who Are Declining Quickly

Richard Leivenberg@@richiemarketingContributor IIIFebruary 18, 2015

PGA Tour Stars Who Are Declining Quickly

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    Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson are looking for success again as they decline in status.
    Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson are looking for success again as they decline in status.Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    The nature of a star is to shine brightly and then disappear either in a glorious explosion or a prolonged fade.

    To be a star on the PGA circuit, you have to win and win big. And the pros on this list either haven’t won in a while or no longer have the look of a champion.

    We are going to leave Tiger Woods out of this list because he has fallen so far, so fast and with so much fanfare that everyone is sorely aware of his demise.

    But there are a number of top players who once excelled and captured our attention yet are now disappearing from our consciousness. Or at least from the high ranks of golf.

    Check out the list of stars who are declining quickly and see if you agree.

Camilo Villegas

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    Camilo Villegas became famous for his unusual way to view putts.
    Camilo Villegas became famous for his unusual way to view putts.Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    Villegas may actually have been one of those stars who gained notoriety for his style rather than substance.

    The 33-year-old Colombian is more notable for the spider-pose he takes to view his putts rather than any major professional wins.

    He began his pro career with a flourish with two second-place finishes and a third-place finish in his first nine events. But he has only won four times on the tour.

    It was probably his good looks rather than his golf game that secured a number of sponsorships and elevated his presence on the tour.

    While he won the Wyndham Championship in 2014, it was his first victory in four years and look liked a fluke rather than a trend.

Padraig Harrington

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    Padraig Harrington hasn't won since 2009 on PGA Tour.
    Padraig Harrington hasn't won since 2009 on PGA Tour.Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press/Associated Press

    Harrington has been fading for a long while, but we just didn’t notice.

    Seven long years have passed since he performed the amazing feat of winning three majors in the course of a year—The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the 2008 PGA Championship.

    But that was his peak as he went winless in 2009 and pretty much has been out of the majors picture except for a tie for fourth in the 2012 U.S. Open.

    Last year he missed the cut nine times in 16 events and is currently ranked 295th in the world.

Geoff Ogilvy

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    Geoff Ogilvy has seen better days.
    Geoff Ogilvy has seen better days.Marco Garcia/Associated Press

    Is the one-time top Australian golfer coming or going?

    He won the Barracuda Championship late last summer, but it was his first professional title in four years.

    This was a guy who won seven times in seven years, including the 2006 U.S. Open. Last year, he made only nine cuts in 19 attempts.

    At 37, Ogilvy is now ranked 99th in the world, a far cry from the 120 weeks he once spent in the top 10.

    His putting has fallen to 208th in strokes gained, and he is ranked in the high 100s in scoring average, total strokes gained and driving distance. 

    These are sure signs that Ogilvy is falling faster than he would like.

Luke Donald

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    Luke Donald has fallen far and fast from his No. 1 position in the world.
    Luke Donald has fallen far and fast from his No. 1 position in the world.USA TODAY Sports

    Once the No. 1 player in the world, Donald is stranded deep in the world rankings at a meager 46th place.

    In 2011, he was the most dominant player in pro golf, becoming the first to finish atop both the European and American money list in the same year. He spent 56 weeks at No. 1 in the world rankings.

    He has since struggled on the tour and hasn’t won a PGA event since early in 2012.

    Even more disconcerting, he has never won a major and was left off the European Ryder Cup team in 2013.

    Until he begins winning again, Donald is now on that woeful list of fading stars.

Nick Watney

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    Nick Watney played well at the AT&T National, but his star has been pretty dim of late.
    Nick Watney played well at the AT&T National, but his star has been pretty dim of late.USA TODAY Sports

    At the recent AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, it looked like Watney would pull out a win only to eventually finish second.

    It was his best finish in two years, and because of it, he moved from 120th all the way to 75th in the world rankings.

    But Watney, once a shining light on the American tour, has had a troubling couple of years in which he missed the cut 15 times in 36 events.

    He has slipped precipitously in a number of statistical categories and is 103rd in driving accuracy, 127th in putting strokes gained and 69th in all-around ranking.  

    Still only 33 with a powerful game and the ability to win again, Watney’s star may still be flickering.

Ernie Els

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    Ernie Els may be eyeing the Champions Tour.
    Ernie Els may be eyeing the Champions Tour.USA TODAY Sports

    At 45, one might think that Els should have been in decline for years.

    But the stalwart South African, with four majors to his name, won the Open Championship in 2012, and it looked like he would never go away.

    In 2013, he won the BMW International Open in Munich, Germany, to claim his 28th European Tour victory.

    Since then, he has played more like a middle-aged guy who is competing against younger, more sturdy pros.

    Last year, he missed the cut at both The Masters and the Open Championship while scoring only three top-10 finishes in 18 events on the PGA Tour.

    Will Els ever return to form, or will his next bit of stardom come on the Champions Tour five years from now?

Steve Stricker

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    Maybe Steve Stricker should go on permanent vacation.
    Maybe Steve Stricker should go on permanent vacation.USA TODAY Sports

    Like Els, the 47-year-old Stricker may be angling for the Champions Tour.

    Considered one of the best putters to have ever played the game, Stricker has been on a self-imposed truncated schedule for the past few years.

    He is also on that painful list of best players never to have won a major.

    Among the most consistent and reliable pros to ever play the game, he once made 49 consecutive cuts. But he hasn’t won since January 2012 at the Hyundai Championship and last year had only two top-10 finishes.

    Now ranked 59th in the world, it appears he will never get that major victory that eluded him during his great career.

Jim Furyk

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    Jim Furyk hasn't won since 2010.
    Jim Furyk hasn't won since 2010.USA TODAY Sports

    Furyk is on the cusp of a fade. 

    The 44-year-old actually shot a 63 that put him in the lead after three rounds at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. But he couldn’t seal the deal and finished in a tie for seventh place.

    He has a major (the U.S. Open in 2003) and the 2010 FedEx Cup, but he hasn’t won a tournament since then.

    He has been close, sharing the lead or leading after 54 holes nine times since 2012.

    While he has his bright spots, there is a good chance Furyk has seen the last of his best days.

Phil Mickelson

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    Phil Mickelson is definitely trending down.
    Phil Mickelson is definitely trending down.USA TODAY Sports

    Mickelson’s much-heralded weight loss and physical training program may not be paying off in the way he expected. 

    The winner of 42 PGA events, including five majors, is still in search of his game, missing the cut in his last two tournaments—The Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Farmers Insurance Open.

    2014 may have been a harbinger for failure rather than success for the 44-year-old. He failed to win a tournament, then had an uncharacteristic bad outing at the Ryder Cup.

    That led to shedding weight, going on a Paleo-style diet and working out to regain strength.

    One of the first things to go when a golfer ages is his putting, and that has not served Mickelson well to date as he resides 165th in putting strokes gained. 

    As everyone knows, Mickelson’s main goal is to win the U.S. Open, where he has finished second six times.

    While that may be still be possible for the man who always seems to pull greatness from his bag, right now he is just hoping to make a cut or two.


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