PGA Tour’s Biggest “Over/Under” Achievers

by Jeff Skinner

As usual another Dustin Johnson win has ignited the “underachiever” debate once again.  The boys at The Golf Channel’s Golf Talk Central put together their candidates for not only underachievers but overachievers as well.

Here is their lead in: Dustin Johnson, fresh off his WGC-HSBC victory, has eight career PGA Tour wins, including at least one in his first seven full seasons on Tour. But that’s not enough for everyone. Some believe Johnson, with his immense talent, is underachieving. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with who they believe are the most underachieving and overachieving players in the game.

Rex Hoggard names David Toms as his overachiever,” Just twice . . . twice, in a 21-year Tour career has Toms failed to finish inside the top 125 in earnings, a statistical anomaly considering that he’s never ranked higher than 50th in driving distance.”

His underachiever…a bold selection of Hall of Famer Fred Couples, “While 15 Tour tilts and a major was enough to earn Couples a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame, the King of Cool certainly expected more from himself.  A chronically cranky back cost Couples much of his prime, but that doesn’t change the fact he probably had greater expectations than 15 titles and a single green jacket.”

Will Gray tabs Anthony Kim as the underachiever,” After joining the short list of players with three wins before age 25 – one that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott – Kim hasn’t cracked the top 10 since the 2011 British Open and hasn’t even played on the PGA Tour since withdrawing from the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship.”

And Zach Johnson as his overachiever,” His victory this year at the BMW Championship put him into rarified company of players with 10 PGA Tour wins and a major title, and the Iowan could potentially be headed toward a Hall of Fame induction years from now.”

Randall Mell picks FedEx Cup Champion Henrik Stenson as the overachiever,” As a fledgling pro, he played the South American Tour, the Swedish Tour and the European Challenge Tour. He failed to get his European Tour card his first time through, and he battled through two dizzying spells of lost form, but look at him today.”

John Daly was his underachiever,” It’s difficult to consider a guy who won two majors an underachiever, but Daly seemed capable of leaving such a larger mark on the game.  He’s the only player from Europe or the United States to win two majors and not make a Ryder Cup team. Surely, even Daly would concede he was capable of more.”

Jason Sobel gives two reasons for choosing Bubba Watson as his overachiever. “One is because he’s gotten to where he is without ever taking a formal lesson. That’s right – while most pros are victims of paralysis by analysis, Watson enjoys a homemade swing that probably couldn’t be taught anyway.  The other is because he had never won a professional event before reaching the PGA Tour. Not on the mini-tours; not anywhere.

Sobel call’s Charles Howell III one of the elite ball strikers on tour and at the same time labels him as his underachiever. “Stats are stats, though – and the stats show that while CH3 owns 14 career second-place finishes and eight third-place results, he still has just two total victories.

Click here and read the entire piece.  They offer thoughtful insights on all their selections.

As far as I am concerned, I see merit in all their arguments.  No player got more out of one major than Fred Couples.  Anthony Kim was the next big thing.  Chucky Three Sticks was so technically perfect he was bound to win trophies by the bunches.

But John Daly, even with his two majors, gets my vote for the player that could have done so much more.  If life hadn’t gotten in the way of Big John he’s have more wins, more majors and a much better retirement plan.

Few players with such finesse games have managed to carve out better careers than David Toms and Zach Johnson and I admire both of them for being able to win in this era of bombing it.

But my overachiever has managed to win on multiple tours with a swing that would make Ben Hogan gag.  Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, with his swing that looks like a man trying to kill a snake with a garden hose, won The Big Break competition.  He won on the Web.com Tour…twice and he won on the PGA Tour.

Take a look at that swing and tell me he isn’t the biggest overachiever in the game.  It can’t be done.


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