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Top Rookie on Tour?

by Jeff Skinner

So it’s here, the last official PGA tournament of the year. Even though many golf fans think the season ends with the PGA Championship or The Tour Championship, the PGA Tour keeps the season alive with The Fall Series tournaments. This week’s Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney World is the last chance for players to add some cash to their totals and set their status for next season.

When the season started back in January there were many rookies that had dreams of making their mark on The PGA Tour. Three rookies have separated themselves from the field and done much more than just secure their Tour Card for next year. Marc Leishman, Webb Simpson and Jeff Klauk all have played well and threatened to win at one time or another. Which one will be PGA Rookie of the year? The race isn’t over yet.

Jeff Klauk has made an easy transition onto the tour that he saw up close each year at The Players Championship. Klauk’s dad was the superintendent at The TPC Sawgrass for years and Klauk saw more pro’s then most while growing up. Klauk has earned enough money to be 68th on the money list with $1,232,898. He has had three top ten finishes, all fourth place, at The Honda, US Bank and the Timberlake. His World ranking is 144th and on The PGA Tour he made 20 of 28 cuts.

Rookie Webb Simpson started the 2009 season hotter than any rookie and better than most veterans with a tie for ninth at the Sony and a tie for fifth at The Hope. He naturally cooled off after that but found his game again and has accumulated enough money to stand at 67th on the money list with $1,249,674. He finished with four top tens and was on the top of the leader board at The Barclays. He threatened to take home the first playoff trophy when he started the final round tied for third place. He finished in eight place and earned his biggest check of the year and now ranks 131st in the world.

The leading money winner among rookies is Australian golfer, Marc Leishman. His $1,742,243 is about half a million ahead of Simpson and Klauk. The bulk of his winnings $660,000, came when he tied for second at The BMW Championship. He got hot at season’s end and cashed checks at three of the four FedEx Cup tournaments. Three top tens and his sizzling September put him at 45th on the tour money list and 118th in the world.

It would seem that Leishman is a lock for Rookie of the Year but there is one more weekend left and Klauk and Simpson are both playing this week in the Disney. Leishman has decided to go home and play in Australia and deal with Tiger Mania at The JBWere Masters. A win or a very good finish by Simpson or Klauk could vault them over Leishman in the money list and let them grab the top rookie honors.

There is plenty of drama playing out at The Children’s Miracle Network Classic. The players will all determine their status for next season and many big names are vying for tour cards. It will be an interesting week. There is even an outside chance that a young upstart with no status on tour could take home the trophy. Rickie Fowler has a tie for seventh and tie for second in two starts on the PGA Tour. He already has earned $553,700 in his two starts. This kid wins the “Biggest Bucks per Start” award easily among the rookies. Fowler is not eligible for The Rookie of the Year, but what a splash he could make by stealing a win here, and then he could be the top rookie in 2010.

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