Last Updated on Monday, 08 December 2008 02:27 Monday, 08 December 2008 02:23
Still, wins on any tour other than The Canadian Tour have been few and far between... just one on the Nationwide. After looking at the results, here are our choices for the top performers from each tour.
THE PGA TOUR
Canada currently has three players competing regularly on the PGA Tour with two in the top 50, Stephen Ames and Mike Weir.
The third is Jon Mills who regained his card by finishing fourth on the Nationwide Tour's money list in 2007. No matter how you look at it, Ames is leading the way.
2008 started very well for Canada's adopted son. The 44-year old finished third at the Mercedes-Benz at Kapalua and followed that with another top ten the next week at the Sony. Since then he has managed two more top tens in 12 events highlighted by a 5th place finish at the Players Championship, a tournament he won in 2006. One impressive stat is that Ames has made the cut in 13 of 14 tournaments this year (93%).
No question 2008 has been bounce back year for Ames in terms of putting. In 2006, he was 22nd on tour averaging 1.752 putts per round. In 2007 this increased to 1.797, a seemingly small increase, but this dropped him to 126th. For 2008, he is headed back in the right direction moving down to 1.769 and back into the top 40.
He is currently 13th in scoring averaging and 21st on the PGA Tour money list with $1,597,429. Ames' world ranking is now 27th and he has gained 30 points more than he has lost over the past 12 months.
Mike Weir’s year has been good as well... just not as good. Mike also started well finishing only one spot behind Ames at The Mercedes. But other than that he has only one top ten... luckily for him that it was a tie for second at the Memorial where he pocketed almost four hundred grand.
The bad news is that he has only made the cut in 11 of 17 events (64%). It's the first rounds that are killing him. He has not broken 70 once on Thursday this year. You know that has to be bothering him. Weir is currently in 58th position for putting, just about where he was last year but nowhere near where he was in ‘06 when he was in the top twenty.
THE NATIONWIDE TOUR
Canada has 6 players on the PGA Tour's Triple A- league with varying levels of playing privileges: Bryan DeCorso, David Hearn, Jim Rutledge, David Morland IV, Ian Leggatt, And Chris Baryla.
The top Canadian on the Nationwide so far this year has to be Bryan DeCorso. He is currently at 12th on the money list, well inside that magical top 20 that will get him full playing privileges on the PGA Tour next year. His position is due in large part to a win at the South Georgia Classic. Other than that he has had a tie for fourth at the Henrico County Open and one other top ten.
One win does not guarantee you a move up to the PGA Tour and making only 6 of 16 cuts does not help either. DeCorso will need to have a few more top tens to ensure his move up. He ranks 29th in Putting Average and 17th in Driving Distance at just under 300 yards so those should help.
Other Nationwider's who are looking like they might make some noise in the second half of the year? David Hearn who recently got his best finish of the year, a tie for third at the Tour Players Cup saw him move up 30 spots on the money list.
THE LPGA TOUR
It's fairly simple to figure out who is the best performing Canadian on the LPGA. After all there are only two players playing full-time, Lorie Kane and Alena Sharp and Lorie is having a tough year making only 7 of fifteen cuts with no top 25s.
Alena on the other hand has made an impressive 14 of 18 cuts but still has not turned this into any top tens. Last year she had only two. She is middle of the pack in many stats from driving to GIRs to the all important money list where she is 72nd. If she can improve her putting where she ranks outside the top 100, she will improve her finishes dramatically.
THE CANADIAN TOUR
Canada has more than twenty players in the top 100 with 8 currently inside the top 25 including Western Canadians Dustin Risdon, Wes Heffernan, Adam Speirs, James Lepp, Kris Wasylowich, Dale Vallely and James Love.
Calgary's Wes Heffernan won the Alberta Open and added two ties for 2nd at the 2008 Corona Mazatlan Mexican PGA Championship and the Greater Vancouver Charity Classic. He has made the cut in 8 of 9 events entered. Add in another top ten at the Times Colonist Open, not to mention a win on the off-season Golden State Tour and, while he trails Risdon by $2000 in the money list, the nod for best results so far this year has to go to this eight year veteran.
Risdon, no slouch himself, won the 2008 ATB Financial Classic in his hometown of Calgary in a playoff. He shot 62 in the second round on his way to the title. He has made 5 of 8 cuts and has finished in the top ten in three events. He currently sits 5th on the money list with more than $34,000.
Honourable mentions go to two other players, Adam Speirs and Andrew Parr. Manitoba's Speirs won his first Canadian Tour title at the Greater Vancouver Charity Classic. He has played in 9 events and made the cut in eight.
If London, Ontario's Andrew Parr had won a playoff at the Spring International, we would be talking about him as being the top performer. The wild card in the deck has to be James Lepp. A playoff loss at the Times-Colonist in Victoria is the highlight of the year for one of Canada's most talented young professionals. A Tour official stated that he believed that Lepp would be playing on the Nationwide by 2009.
Who should get the award for best performer in 2008? At this point that distinction is definitely still up for grabs.
By Jeff Sutherland
Jeff Sutherland is the publisher of Inside Golf Magazine.http://www.insidegolf.ca