Top 50 World Golf Rankings as of May 25, 2009.
Adam Scott: Where has Adam Scott gone. On the face of it, he has the talent to excel at Bethpage Black, but he has done nothing recently to prove that he might. He missed 6 straight cuts stretching from Transitions to Byron Nelson, before finally finishing t-64 at Crowne Plaza. It’s hard to imagine that Scott was the third member of the Tiger-Phil 1-2-3 pairing at Torrey Pines, and now is playing about on par with the average PGA Tour Golfer.
Justin Rose:Where has Justin gone, too? He finished 2008 ranked 19th, but has since fallen to 40th in the OWGR’s. Rose hasn’t fallen quite as far as Scott, but he has missed 4 cuts on the PGA Tour this season and his best finish is a couple of t-20s. Not very good.
Ian Poulter: Poulter has played like Adam Scott, except the exact opposite. After the end of last PGA season I would have said Poulter is an overrated big mouth based on one high finish at the British Open. However, he has really played quite well this season, finishing inside the top-10 at 4 events highlighted by a second at the PLAYERS. He is no longer an auto-fade in my opinion, but he gets too much attention for a Euro to be a good luck.
Rory Sabbatini: Sabbs is definitely overrated, but someone I am being careful with. He gets way more attention than some guys on his level, but he also played significantly poorer last season than the past few. He’s somewhat due to respond well this year and so far he has. However, I don’t think he contends at Bethpage.
Rory McIlroy: If a 19-year-old could win a major I would have to say it would be Rory. He has already played well in a few and I wouldn’t put it past him to do well here. He can hit the ball a mile, and more importantly can hit the ball very high. He fits the bill of the naturally talented(Phil, Tiger, Sergio) guys that did well at Bethpage the first time around perfectly. I definitely put him in a category with Villegas, in that they have the obvious skills to win at Bethpage, but I’m not convinced they can keep it together for 72 holes right now.
Sean O’Hair: You can’t argue with Sean’s success at tough courses this season(Quail Hollow, Arnie’s Invite). You can argue with the fact he is probably playing over his head and he is getting a lot of attention.
Luke Donald: So I mentioned that when looking back at the leaderboard from 2002, I saw two types of players: Super Talented(Tiger, Phil, Sergio) and shorter but exceptional ball strikers(Maggert, Price, Mayfair, Faldo). I could be making this up, but I would have to put Luke Donald at the top of exceptional ball striker who doesn’t really hit it that far list. Of course last year it was the US Open rough at Torrey Pines that ended Donald’s season. Donald has been every bit as solid as he was leading up to last year’s open and has two straight top-15 finishes. That’s not out of the question at Bethpage, either.
Nick Watney: I’m just guessing here, but if this turns into a ball striking fest you can’t count out Watney. He’s getting too much attention and probably playing over his head, but Watney is clearly a talented Golfer.
Alvaro Quiros: Alvaro could shoot the low round of the tournament or he could miss the cut by 11 strokes. It’s all a possibility. He certainly hits the ball and absolute mile(Butch Harmon called him the longest hitter in the world), very high and is a streaky enough putter that he could fire a 65 or something crazy. Unfortunately, there is no way he is consistent enough to win this tournament.
Tim Clark: Clark does nothing but win a lot of money(Read: consistently high finishes). He was so close to winning his first PGA Tour Event a few weeks ago, but just got some bad luck. It’s hard to write off the South African with 4 top tens already this year and 8 of 12 top-25s. If there was something to the shorter hitters who did well here in 2002, then Clark is another solid contender.
Dustin Johnson: Dustin is a very naturally talented player who hits it a mile and could be a solid dark horse. Oh wait, hes won twice in the past year on the PGA Tour? nevermind.
Gonzalo Fernandez Castano: Castano is an interesting case. He is a pretty good talent, who has probably played over his head in Europe this season. Castano put up three straight second finishes, and combines that with a top ten against a strong field in Qatar and a 11th at Wentworth. Castano has failed to bring that success to America so far. I don’t really think he is a great look at Bethpage.
David Toms: David Toms has experienced a bit of a resurgence so far this season, but I don’t think that continues. Toms is 42, and at that age, probably past his prime. That doesn’t mean he no longer has the ability to contend on the PGA Tour, it’s just hard to see the upside with Toms at this point. I think he is going to be pretty overrated this week.
Two more parts left. Qualifiers with no shot will be tomorrow and Qualifiers that are worth a look on Wednesday.