Why you should've already paid attention to PGA tour season
By JIM O'SHEA
College Contributor Network
The PGA Tour season is a full four weeks in. Surprise! No Tiger Woods. No Rory McIlroy. No Phil Mickelson. No Rickie Fowler. Heck, no Jordan Spieth.
So why have the first four tournaments of the 2014-15 campaign mattered? For many reasons.
The fall part of the calendar gives young players a chance to prove themselves and even come out on top against a weak(er) field. It's a lot like spring training in baseball. Guys who have been in the minors or never won on Tour during their entire careers get a shot to make a major league roster.
A guy like Jimmy Walker last year, who was 34 years old and had never come out on top on tour, finally did in the very first tournament of the season. The 2013 Frys.com Open was Walker's coming-out party.
After that, he went on to win two more tournaments before March and finished in the top 10 in three of the four majors. He is now No. 18 in the world, above Tiger Woods, and considered one of the top Americans out there.
And this year's Frys.com Open champion could also be onto big things. Sang-Moon Bae had only four top 10's in his career before a month ago. He now has two more after coming out on top at the Frys.com and finished tied for fifth last week at the CIMB Classic.
He has already made almost as much in three tournaments ($1.3 million) as he had in the best year of his career ($1.7 million). And he has basically secured his card for the 2015-16 season because he has to finish in the top 125 of the money list, which last year was cut off at $735,259.
And how about the next week's winner at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open? Ben Martin is a 27-year-old Clemson grad who is a full-time Tour member for the first time in consecutive years. Martin shot past the rest of the field at Las Vegas after a third-round, nine-under 62. And he backed it up with a top 15 finish the next week at The McGladrey Classic. Expect the young Tiger to be in many tournaments this year and in the future.
But this part of the year is even important for experienced guys who have not had as much success as they might have hoped. Ryan Moore turned pro in 2005, almost a decade ago, and had only three wins on tour before last week at the CIMB Classic. He defended his title in Malaysia, has now won a tournament in three of the last four years and has eclipsed the $1 million mark for the tenth-straight season.
Oh, also, Moore loves this part of the year, coming out on top at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in 2012. Now, can the American win a big one during the major part of the year?
And how about this: all the winners so far will be at Augusta National in April for the Masters. So Robert Streb, who won in a playoff at The McGladrey Classic, will be playing in his first major at arguably the greatest place in golf.
With a World Golf Championship, the HSBC Champions, this weekend and many of the stars opening up their seasons, that does not mean the golf calendar is just starting -- it's already meant something for the rest of the tour.
October has been the month of "prove yourself" and for the ones that have, well ask Jimmy Walker what could happen the rest of the year.
Jim O'Shea is a junior at Syracuse University studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism. Born and raised in Houston, TX. He's an avid Texans and Texas Rangers fan. Also golf is his favorite sport. Follow him on Twitter: @JimOShea4