I like to follow one or two new players each year and this year there are a lot of rookies with very impressive resumes. All you need to do is look at the top 25 from the 2012 Web.com Tour money list and pick one. There are three Web.com players that I find interesting:
1) Casey Whittenberg – He is really not a “rookie” on the PGA tour because he has been playing tournaments on the PGA tour and Web.com tour (formally, Nationwide tour) for a number of years but he earned his 2013 PGA tour card with his excellent play in 2012.
I first became aware of Wittenberg watching the 2004 Masters when he finish 13th as an amateur (the highest finish of an amateur since 1961.) After the Masters, everyone thought when he turned pro that he would win quickly; but Whittenberg has had his challenges. However in 2012 it appears he has found his game and was the “2012 player of the year” on the Web.com tour and is one of five Web.com tour players to have won twice in 2012.
2) Luke Gutherie – Another two-time winner, Gutherie won back-to-back tournaments on the Web.com Tour. Gutherie played only 10 Web.com tournaments in 2012 and of the ten, seven were top 10 finishes. His back-to-back wins occurred in September at the Albertsons Boise Open and the WNB Golf Classic.
3) Ben Kohles – Not only was Kohles a two-time and back-to-back winner on the Web.com tour; but those back-to-back wins were his first two starts on tour. The tournaments were the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational and Cox Classic. It is just so impressive to see someone win in the first two tournaments of their professional career.
There are many other rookies to watch but there is only one other that I will be keeping my eye on and that is Patrick Reed also fondly known as “Mr. Monday.” He got the nickname, “Mr. Monday,” on tour in 2012 because he entered PGA tournaments the “old school” way by playing in Monday qualifiers. He played in eight PGA Monday qualifiers and made the field in six tournaments. Of course, as fate would have it, he won his PGA tour card at Q-school on a Monday.
What really makes me a fan of Patrick Reed is his personal story. His fiancée (now wife), Justine Karain, is his caddie and he gives her plenty of credit as evident in the interview from the Well Fargo. Apparently she played golf in high school (the couple met in high school) and is very good at reading putts. I’ve always been impressed with women caddies because I can’t imagine carrying a 50 pound tour bag and living the life of a caddie. Also, I am impressed with professional golfers who are “evolved enough” to have a women on the bag (i.e. gender doesn’t matter, the best person for the job) and another reason I like Patrick Reed. The couple married in December 2012 and they plan to continue being a team on the course. Let’s hope the Reed’s have a very successful 2013.