Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Adam Long (+8%): Seemingly the third wheel Sunday with Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin, all the 31-year-old rookie did was chip in twice on the back nine, play a remarkable shot from a tough sidehill lie on 18 and then roll in a cold-blooded 15-footer for the win. He sure didn’t look like a guy with one career made cut on Tour.
Phil (+6%): Mickelson’s game plan in his 2019 debut was to “crush” drivers, and he did – he led the field in driving distance while showing plenty of speed. Can he maintain those numbers all year? Scaling back his tournament schedule should help.
Shane Lowry (+4%): For a while it looked as though he’d repeat his Oakmont disaster, but he dug deep and his three-shot lead that turned into a four-shot deficit became a one-stroke win. Gritty.
Augusta National Women’s Amateur (+2%): Any concerns that the ANA Inspiration would affect participation for the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur were alleviated Tuesday, when the preliminary field list showed that 42 of the top 50 amateurs in the world have signed up for Augusta. It should be a great week for women’s golf.
Daniel Berger (+1%): Boog – remember him? – tied for 12th in the desert in his first action since early September. Hampered by a wrist injury for much of last year, Berger has proven that he can be a force when healthy. Here’s hoping.
Luis Gagne (-1%): The LSU senior, vying for the Latin America Amateur Championship and a Masters berth, made his first bogey in 36 holes when he laid up into a fairway bunker on the drivable, par-4 17th. Bummer.
Richard Sterne (-2%): He stormed into the lead in Abu Dhabi on the final day, going out in 31, but he didn’t hit a great shot on the back nine. His demoralizing bogeys on Nos. 14 and 16 let Lowry recover and ultimately win.
LPGA’s TOC (-3%): It’s a good idea, putting together the 2018 winners with a bunch of athletes and celebrities in an attempt to boost players’ profiles and generate interest, but as a viewer there were some areas to address. The party vibe on the 18th hole was obnoxious and ill-timed; it’s a 210-yard par 3, over water, with serious implications for a mis-hit. Why not set it up on the first tee, not the last? Also: Stick with one format. The pros can play modified stableford scoring, too.
Those without Tour status (-5%): How’s this for wild: Corey Conners, who is 22nd in the FedExCup points race, with a pair of top-3 finishes this season, including earlier this month at the Sony Open, still has to scrap for starts. He had to play a Monday qualifier for this week’s event at Torrey Pines and failed. Brutal.