5 Once Popular Golfers Who Fell off the Map

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2015

5 Once Popular Golfers Who Fell off the Map

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    Over the past two decades on the PGA Tour, there have been many casualties. And while it's dumb and insensitive to use the "battlefield strewn with corpses" motif, the fairways of the PGA Tour are figuratively littered with broken dreams and literally no longer walked by some once-promising players. 

    In some cases, names that were once at the top of leaderboards are now frequently hovering near the bottom. And a few of these golfers are notable for their Ian Baker-Finch-ian face plants, and they fill out our list. 

    A note: Tiger Woods and John Daly, golfers who have endured their own brands of steep decline, aren't included, as they never really "fell off the map." Interest in both has remained relatively constant. 

    With that said, here are the five who made the list.

Anthony Kim

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    Ah, Anthony Kim, what might have been. The hard-charging and hard-partying 2008 Ryder Cup hero hasn't played a competitive round in three years. 

    Three years!

    The 29-year-old was hampered by injury in 2011 and 2012. He made just two of 10 cuts and finished his season with three withdrawals in a row. The combination of a thumb injury, tendinitis and a ruptured Achilles forced Kim from the game in 2012

    What's unclear is whether it's injury or disenchantment with the game that has kept him on the sidelines. Golf.com's Alan Shipnuck writes that there's "an insurance policy Kim has against a career-ending injury. An IMG source pegged its value at $10 million, tax-free."

    The above hints at the golfer's potential motivation for staying on the sidelines. Whatever the reason, the four-time PGA Tour winner has been in the wind. And even with recent reports that a round with Kim was successfully auctioned off for more than $20,000 to benefit Toby Keith's charity, there are no signs he plans to return to tour.  

David Duval

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    David Duval, winner of the 2001 Open Championship, was once the top-ranked golfer in the world. During the course of his decadelong free fall, he fell as far as 1,532nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. 

    That's insane. 

    Duval has made just four of 18 cuts over the last two years, earning little more than $100,000. Contrast this with the fact that he was the tour's leading money winner in 1998. Indeed, from 1997 to 200, he won 13 times on the PGA Tour. 

    Vertigo, back issues, wrist issues and personal difficulties have all conspired to land the 43-year-old on the Golf Channel rather than the fairways of the PGA Tour. 

Mike Weir

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    A fixture at the bottom of leaderboards this season, it's difficult to believe Mike Weir was once the third-highest ranked golfer on the planet.

    It's also tough, when looking at his current form, to imagine him winning the Masters in 2003. Or winning seven other PGA Tour events, for that matter. Really, it's difficult to imagine he's even packing golf clothes for the weekend at this point: In 14 starts, he's made just one cut.  

    Arguably the greatest Canadian golfer of all time, Weir has just one top-10 finish since 2009. He's currently ranked 421st in the world, and it looks like he's lost his game for good. 

Trevor Immelman

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    Trevor Immelman went from major winner in 2008 to having to tee it up in the 2013 Web.com Tour Finals to keep his PGA Tour card.

    That's an extreme shift in station in the golfing world.

    As the golfer dealt with lingering wrist issues and recovery from surgery in 2009, his game suffered. It's unclear what's hampering him now, but the state of Immelman's golfing is not strong. 

    Since 2008, the TaylorMade staffer hasn't won an event on the PGA Tour. He fell from 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of 2006 to 646th. He missed 15 cuts last year and has failed to make the weekend 10 times so far in 2015.

Padraig Harrington

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    Padraig Harrington's playoff triumph at the Honda Classic was his first win since 2008, and it ensures he'll have status on tour for the next two years. 

    Thus, he's stepped back from the edge of oblivion. Very recently, though, the Irishman was off the map. 

    It's difficult to believe the lip-gnawing veteran was facing the prospect of losing his tour card at the end of this season. Here's another illustration of how far he had tumbled into the abyss: At the end of 2008, Harrington was fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking. At the end of 2014, he was 265th. 

    Harrington is a three-time major champion. The guy won three out of five majors in a stretch between 2007 and 2008!

    Some more contrast: In 2008, he teed it up 15 times on the PGA Tour, winning twice and making 12 cuts. In 2014, he missed nine cuts in 16 starts and recorded just one top-25 finish. 

    Still, it's not all Guinness and roses for the Irishman: He's missing cuts at about the same rate he's making them. How he rounds out the year will determine how "on the map" he is going into the 2015-16 season.  

    Rankings via OWGR.com. Stats via PGATOUR.com. 

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