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Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Kevin Na (+8%): A week after Cam Champ bombed his way to victory, Na won in entirely different fashion – rolling in a Tour-record amount of putts to deny the sixth-ranked player in the world and capture his third title in his past 30 starts. Playing the best golf of his life, who in the sport is grittier than Na?
Jon Rahm (+6%): Rahm has proven that he can beat up on the lesser-weights, as he did again in his home open in Spain, but he’ll have to wait until 2020 to show that he’s ready to take the final leap toward greatness.
Cheyenne Knight (+5%): It’s too early to call Knight the next American star – she didn’t have a top-25 prior to last week – but her breakthrough victory sure was timely. Instead of heading back to Q-School with her confidence shaken, she now has job security and the unassailable belief that she can hang with the world’s best.
The Players (+2%): The Tour’s showcase event might not yet be a major, but at least in 2020 it’ll be treated like one – the tournament will offer live streaming of all 144 players in the field, just like the Masters.
Stephanie Meadow (+1%): Knight wasn’t the only former Alabama All-American to shine on Sunday. Meadow drained a 25-footer on the 72nd hole to finish in a tie for sixth – and, more importantly, slide inside the top 100 on the money list to keep her card for next year. Clutch.
Defending champs (-1%): The Houston Open took a year off, and moved from the spring to the fall, but 2018 winner Ian Poulter won’t be in Texas to defend his title. He’ll tee it up this week in Italy, in a lucrative Rolex Series event, against stronger competition and with European Ryder Cup points at stake.
Knees (-2%): Fortunately they’ve all avoided major injury, but Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and now Brooks Koepka all have been plagued by a bad wheel this year, perhaps an indictment of their grueling workouts that maximize their speed and power. Do these guys play golf or running back?
Bryson (-3%): Heading into a fall break, DeChambeau revealed his plans to get “bigger” and “way stronger” – which is curious, seeing how he’s already a very large, well-sculpted human. Players have wrecked their careers chasing distance, so hopefully the Mad Scientist isn’t another casualty.
Captaincy choices (-4%): Na’s ascendance (he’s the only eligible U.S. player with multiple wins in 2019) complicates matters for Captain Woods, who now faces the prospect of leaving off the American roster a U.S. Open champ, a consistent contender, a popular figure in the team room and maybe even himself. It’s unavoidable: Someone’s feelings are going to get hurt.
DQ rules (-5%): Poor Mind Muangkhumsakul, whose career was nearly derailed because she thought the pro-am for the Symetra Tour Championship was at 9 a.m., not 8 a.m. She was disqualified from the event, per tour regulations, and barely held on to her LPGA card for next year. That this rule has not been amended – how about a significant fine, or a mandatory sponsor outing instead? – defies all logic.