With most of the 2012 Golf season in the rear-view mirror, I thought it might be interesting to start contemplating who should be the Comeback Player of the year. Most of the top pros actually play on multiple tours, so I included players who play on the PGA and other tours throughout the world. After all, Professional Golf has become big business all over the planet.
Much to the chagrin of my editor, the name at the top of the list has to be Tiger Woods. After the trials and tribulations that Tiger has been through since Thanksgiving of 2009, both on and off the Golf Course, he deserves to be at the top of the list for what he has been able to accomplish between the ropes.
Tiger has battled swing, and on course issues for most of the season. His Driver failed him earlier in the year, and when he got that leak somewhat plugged, his putter let him down. He still has a problem with that Driver when he is under pressure. He is fighting the same problem Ben Hogan had for most of his career, which is a pull hook. Hogan was never successful until he perfected what was known as the Power Fade. That’s why you see him with a 3Wood or Long Iron on the tee.
The other problem Tiger has, that is keeping him from returning to his old form, is his short game. He doesn’t possess the laser approach accuracy and distance control he had during the days when he was unbeatable. This problem puts more pressure on his putting game, and although he is one of the best pressure putters I have ever seen, he can’t make every 40 foot putt.
Although Tiger Woods has won three tournaments on the PGA Tour, his wins did not come against stellar competition. His victories at Bay Hill and Memorial, and Congressional were achieved when most of the top players were absent. His performances in the four Majors were acceptable during the pre-cut action, but faded during weekend play. His game during the Majors started to come around at the British Open where he finished tied for third place.
I like what I’ve seen of Tiger’s attitude this year. He laughs and jokes with fellow compettitors, he’s friendly with fans, and he is treating the media well during interviews and press conferences. He will never be the Old Tiger Woods we used to know, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
At 41 years old, and with his victory at the British Open in July, I was compelled to include him on this list. His win at Royal Lytham and St Annes was a gift from a host of golfers including Adam Scott, but he made four birdies on the back nine on Sunday, including a miraculous putt on the 72nd hole, that put him in position to win. It wasn’t his fault, the rest of the field collapsed. I can remember watching all of the talking heads Saturday night and Sunday morning, and not one of them were talking about Ernie Els.
Ernie played some good golf for most of the season, on the PGA Tour he had 2 top 3 finishes to go along with 5 top 10’s. In March he had two of the top ten’s including a second place finishes at Bay Hill. He finished 2nd in New Orleans at The Zurich Classic, and a respectful 9th at The US Open.
In 20 PGA Events, he made 16 cuts, and 15th on the Money List, earning a touch over $3 Million dollars. Ernie played in three events on the European Tour and recorded a T-2 at The Volvo Championship in January, and a T-7 at The BMW European PGA Championship in May. He won almost $ 400,000 across the pond.
The 2012 Season was by far the best we have seen from The Kuch since he turned pro in 2000. He made 19 cuts in the 21 events he entered. The 34 year old from Winter Garden, Florida, and former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket, had two top 3 finishes to go with 8 top 10’s. He got the first significant win of his career at The Players Championship at Ponte Vedre Beach. The Players is usually classified as the Tour’s 5th Major, carrying with it a 10 year exemption.
You probably don’t remember, but Matt Kuchar was in the clubhouse at eight under par, while Bubba and Louis were battling it out on the back nine at Augusta. He finished tied for third place only two strokes off the lead.
Three of Kuchar’s top tens came after The Players at The Travelers where he finished T-8, and at the US Open where he was tied for ninth. After an eighth place finish at The Bridgestone, his game has fallen off. He missed the cut at The PGA Championship, and has not fared well during the FedEx Cup Playoff.
If there were someone you felt should have been mentioned, state your case in a comment.
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