2019 PGA Tour golf: Buy or sell on some top golfers heading into the season
Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed are all on this list
The stock market is doing something today. I don't know what. I don't pay attention to it. It's probably going up or going down, and people are probably losing their minds either way. What I do know about, though, is professional golf and which players are trending up and which are trending down as we head into 2019.
With a new calendar year weeks away, and a pretty historic season in the rearview mirror, it's time to take a look at who I'm buying, who I'm selling and who I have no idea about going into the next year.
Jordan Spieth: Gordon Gekko thinks I'm being liberal with how much Spieth stock I'm purchasing. Here's my thing with Spieth: His performance in 2018 was both not as bad as it's being framed and also a byproduct of poor putting. Those are the exact types of players I'm buying because putting comes and goes. Elite ball-striking is forever, and even in a year where Spieth failed to pick up a victory, he was still top 25 from tee to green and a handful of shots from winning two majors. Verdict: Buy (all of it)
Tiger Woods: There are a number of conflicting trends going on here. On one hand, he was literally the No. 1 ball-striker on the PGA Tour in 2018. No. 1! On the other hand, he's about to be 43, which is not exactly the age at which you make progress on the PGA Tour. On one hand, he didn't have a swing for half the year last season and still won (and nearly won multiple times, including a major). On the other hand, for how many years does the back actually hold up? On one hand, he's Tiger Woods. On the other hand, he kind of faltered down the stretch at a few tournaments in 2018 (including the Open), and I'm not 100 percent sure I can trust this latest iteration of the Big Cat. Verdict: Sell
Tommy Fleetwood: In his first full season on the PGA Tour, Fleetwood posted six top 10s and a runner up. More importantly, he finished top 20 at the first three majors, nearly won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock with a 63 in the final round and thrived on the biggest stages (including the Ryder Cup). I could not be more in on his future, even if I think he both needs to win more and ball-strike it a little bit better. It's just too easy to envision him winning either the U.S. Open or Open Championship. Verdict: Buy
Cameron Champ: He has quite quickly become one of the poster boys for what the PGA Tour is selling. Obviously the length is prodigious, and he has elite skills. But I'm mildly concerned that he didn't win very much in college. Not overly concerned, just a little curious. In five tournaments so far this fall, he's 16th from tee to green despite being first in driving. That's because he's not even top 70 in strokes gained on approach shots. I'm picking nits here and making a case simply to go against the grain, but he's also being hyped like the next American superduperstar. I'm not sure that's who he is. Verdict: Sell
Patrick Reed: The game, like the persona, just doesn't make sense. Reed was 35th in strokes gained overall last season, but he won the Masters and had six other top 10s, including one at the U.S. Open. I'm done selling him based solely on numbers, aesthetics and vibe. I'm doing this with both my eyes closed while holding my breath, but ... Verdict: Buy
Rickie Fowler: There's a world that exists in which Fowler has simply taken this long to climb what Matt Kuchar once called the 10-year PGA Tour learning curve. A world in which he was simply miscast as The Franchise when the reality is that he was always just a glorified version of ... well ... Kuchar.
That's not a knock, by the way. Kuchar has had a terrific career replete with 8 PGA Tour wins and $45 million earned. He's one of the 10 highest-paid PGA Tour golfers ever. A glorified version of Kuchar might be a Hall of Famer. Fowler is entering the mid-200s in terms of events played, and that's about where Kuchar started to become more efficient. He won four of his first 280 tournaments and then four more of his next 150. If Fowler can do that at some slightly higher-quality tournaments, he'll have made good use of his talent, even if nobody else sees it that way. Verdict: Buy
Bryson DeChambeau: This is a tough one for me. The content he delivers on a weekly basis is almost laugh-out-loud absurd, but his game travels. I like that he's an elite ball-striker (top 10 from tee to green in 2018), I like that he's still pretty young in terms of tournaments played and I like that he wins ... a lot. Despite all the goofiness off to the side in the way of right angles and geometric global positioning, I think I'm in on Bryson. Verdict: Buy
Matthew Wolff: Trick question. You can't buy any of it. I already own it all. Verdict: It's gone
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