Is it sick of me to want to watch Phil Mickelson run the 40-yard dash?
Wouldn’t it be something to watch him go all out for, maybe, 5.7 seconds(?) and then turn around gasping and watch as others like Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen tried to best him.
It’s probably not as appealing as watching these guys hit cut drives and lob wedges, but it would be a sight. Just imagine if there was some sort of combine for golfers that was similar to those that NFL prospects face each year. What skills and athletic challenges would you want to have players tested for? Which PGA golfer would have the highest vertical…something?!
I’ve taken it a step farther and developed a mock draft for PGA golfers. With the 2011 season just teeing off, what golfers would you want to build a team upon for the next 15 years? Who do you think will have the best career impact from now to 2025
Please note – this is not a list of the top 30 players in the world today. It’s a list of who I predict will have the best success in the near and extended future. I’m not just picking guys based on what they’ll do in 2011, but what they’re capable of for the next 15 years
And, so, with the first pick in the Golfer Draft, I select..
1) Rory McIlroy – McIlroy spurning the PGA tour for the European tour isn’t the same as Ricky Rubio spurning the NBA a few years back – McIlroy is still going to be here for the big ones. His 63 in the first round of the 2010 British Open was a precursor for some of the great rounds this guy’s going to have in majors. I predict he’ll register more major championships than any other golfer between now and 2025. At 5′ 10″ and 160 lbs – McIlroy is all heart, skin, bones and gobs of talent.
2) Dustin Johnson – Johnson is built tall and equipped with long arms for snapping drives that will tower over fairways for years to come. His mental fortitude is the only thing I question. On one hand he’s shown incredible resilience after his blow-up at the 2010 U.S. Open and Bunker Gate at the 2010 PGA Championship. On the other hand, he let both those things happen to him in the first place. If there were other teams drafting and Johnson went first – I’d understand. He seems to have every shot in the bag. He loves Pebble Beach (which means he’ll be playing on one of his favorite courses for at least two more majors during his career). And, when you almost win two majors one year, you’re bound to find your way into contention again. Who knows, he may have a much more prolific career than McIlroy. But, for me, there are more questions surrounding DJ than Rory.
3) Martin Kaymer – If you drafted him third overall and called him on the phone.would he be excited? This guy is a silent assassin and one very calm, cool customer. He’s managed to still fly under the radar despite winning the 2010 PGA Championship and being the #3 player in the world. Nothing blows you away about Kaymer other than the fact that he’s really good at everything. He’s only the second German to win a major championship (see Bernhard Langer) and it would appear he’ll notch a few more over his career. He’s not the sexy top five pick, but he’s all substance.
4) Paul Casey – Reach alert! Reach alert! This would be the first pick had the announcers up in arms. David Feherty would call it as “peculiar as trying to dial the telephone with an ice pick.” Johnny Miller would begin to retort and then just tell a story about how great he used to be. Hopefully, Tom Rinaldi would break in and make sense of it all. Look – I know Casey’s already 33. And I know there are other guys still on the board – Woods or McDowell – for starters – but I’m taking Casey here. The guys is really, really good. He’s earned 10 global victories and, as of late, has shown up at big times. He’s two years younger than Woods – and I think those two years will make a difference. Casey’s going to break through at some point. And, when he does, it just might validate the pick. (Or he’s not.and this pick goes down as the Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan pick in golf because look who’s next.)
5) Tiger Woods – Let’s be honest, I’d never be able to take Tiger Woods at number 5. He’s arguably the greatest golfer ever to breathe, and someone, from somewhere, would have taken him by now. But, if the entire draft were up to me, this is where Woods goes. Work with me here.
a. Woods is 35 years and a month old. Which means 15 years from now he’ll be 50 and (probably) not winning majors anymore. The prime of his career may be in the past, and if it isn’t.there’s not much of it ahead in the future. I understand that what he’s capable of in the next 5-7 years could be potentially more impactful than anything these other guys do in the next 30 – but I’m not sure.
b. Woods is still dealing with the results of the largest public scandal in history, a divorce, having two children he can’t see on impulse and a new swing coach. I’m not going to bet against him. But I’m also not wagering my house that he returns to anything near his old form.
c. The idea that Woods is going to win the grand slam is dead. His game isn’t there anymore and there are too many young challengers. A good year for Woods now is one major and a great year is two. If that’s the new standard.is it possible for him to amass more than five or six the rest of the way?
All those reasons and I just don’t think he’ll have a better 15-years than those I’ve selected ahead of him.
#6 – Rickie Fowler – The same analysts who were fired up about Paul Casey at #4 would surely wonder incredulously how Rickie Fowler could slip to six. Look, I know the kid’s only 22 and seems to have tons of talent, flair and poise – but I’m just not ready to go all in on him. Some people probably would have slotted him at No. 1 or 2. But, not me. I know he’s young, but he still doesn’t have a PGA Tour win and his best major finish is a T14. None of the guys drafted above him put together an epic birdie run to scare a Molinari at the Ryder Cup – but they each have fewer question marks. Besides, it’s not as if a guy that goes sixth can’t prove himself the best of the bunch down the road.
#7 – Hunter Mahan – Don’t cry for me Mr. Mahan. A short iron shot and a flubbed pitch at the 2010 Ryder Cup don’t erase the fact that this guy is blossoming into a young star. The guy’s won three times on Tour and twice last year (including the World Golf Championship Bridgestone event). Ever since seeing him get going on tour a few years back – he exudes confidence. He’s also a heck of a ball striker. Those tears didn’t wash away my excitement for his game, they showed me he cared.deeply. I want guys like that on my team if I’m drafting
#8 – Camillo Villegas – Villegas at #8 just shows you how incredibly deep and young the tour is right now. In Villegas you get a guy with tons of potential (he’s 29) and tons of proven success (9 professional wins, 3 PGA wins). Villegas can hit the ball a mile and is all muscle. He’s got the strength to blast it out of U.S. Open rough and the touch to sink birdie putts. As I’m registering this pick, I’m wondering how he fell this far.
#9 – Ryo Ishikawa – Some have labeled this kid the second coming, but how much do we really know about him yet? Tons of talent, yes. But that doesn’t always translate. I’m a Pacers fans and remember when they drafted Jonathan Bender. Young. Tons of talent. Ended up showing flashes but having injury trouble. All I’m saying is young, talented guys don’t always blossom. He’s way to unproven at this point. He’d be advised to stay in school one more year.
#10 – Ian Poulter – Remember when it was just going to be Tiger Woods and Poulter? Well, it’s just Poulter alone at the #10 spot. Poulter is 35 (which not even we realized) and only has one career win. There’s a lot of reasons to think he’ll win again and win big, but time isn’t on his side like some of the younger guns drafted ahead of him.
#11 – Jeff Overton – Toughness finds a way to win. I’ve always believed that. And Overton is the definition of toughness. At the end of the 2008 season, Overton was 10 days removed from appendectomy and was ranked 125th, barely hanging on to full-season exemption. He went out and finished 21st and secured a spot on tour. In 2010 he finished 11th at the U.S. Open and was an emotional leader at the Ryder Cup.
#12 – Matteo Manassero – I’ve been criticized for not drafting youth – forgive me. I’m not passing up on the chance to get Manassero here. He’s 17 years old and has won on the European team and placed 13th in last year’s open. I had a hard enough time packing everything I needed for an overnight at a friend’s house at age 17.
#13 – Anthony Kim – If Anthony Kim is going 13.he can’t be that happy. Three PGA Tour wins and a couple eye-opening performances in the majors. He’s only 25 and has much more success than many of those taken before him. I don’t know how you don’t put him in your top 20..
#14 – Justin Rose – He’s only 30 and he has top 10 finishes in every major championship. 2010 was a bit of a reawakening for him. Rose is worth every penny at this point in the draft.
#15 – Chris Wood – Let the criticism of my inability to draft youth end. At 23 years of age, Chris Wood is arguably the best young English golfer on the planet. He clearly enjoys playing links style courses (the only made cuts in majors he has are T3 and T5 at the British Open) and he got off to a good start this year with a runner-up finish at the Africa Open.
#16 – Graeme McDowell – I know he had the best year of anyone in 2010 and literally ruined Tiger Woods “I’m Back” party in early December – but I’m not there all the way with this guy yet. I’m probably one of the few guys in the world who wants to see McDowell “do it again” before I consider him an elite talent.
#17 – Matt Kuchar – Love everything about Kuchar – One of the most consistent, hard working golfers of all time. I just feel that with his age (31 years) and relative lack of flash – his upside isn’t as great as I wish it would be for him.
#18 – Sergio Garcia – Hate away. He’s only 31 and it’s not over. I’m telling you – it’s not over.
#19 – Ross Fisher – Four European tour wins, strong performances in all the majors. He reminds me of Kuchar a bit in his steadiness. Plus, he’s younger.
#20 – Ryan Moore – I hate his hat. I hate that he wore a tie once. But he’s good – and that’s what really matters.
#21 Jamie Lovemark – At 22 years of age he became the youngest player to ever win the money title on the Nationwide Tour. He’ll have similar success on the PGA Tour in years to come.
#22 Bubba Watson – Watson is a steal this late in the draft. He’s good in all the big events and really shined at last year’s Ryder Cup. If he were a few years younger than 32.he’d be a top 10 pick.
#23 Bill Haas – Won twice on tour last year and has a chance to win his first of 2011 this week. He’s really turning into a young star and has great genes.
#24 Nick Watney – Mr. Steady. He made 22 of 24 possible cuts last year and finished in the top 10 in a third of the events he entered. Great numbers for anyone.
#25 Alvaro Quiros – He’s young and can absolutely bomb the ball. He’s had success on the European Tour and will win when he plays courses that suit his game. It’s only a matter of time before he’s better known.
#26 Jhonattan Vegas – Vegas wasn’t even on the draft board a month ago.but he’s had a great two weeks. A PGA Tour win and then coming out and contending the next week later? Impressive.
#27 Andres Romero – Romero didn’t start playing until he was 16 but quickly took to the game. He owns a PGA Tour victory and other memorable performances. A major winner at some point, count on it.
#28 Brendon De Jonge – He was in the money 24 or 32 times last year. He seems to always play well.
#29 Colt Knost – Mo Golf took this guy in the top 10. Nothing really impresses me about this guy. He’s won on the amateur level and others think highly of him – so I’ll squeeze him in here.
#30 Rafael Cabrera – Never heard of him? You will. He has four professional wins and a solid showing at last year’s open. He’s only 26.