allenbyThere’s nothing to talk about in the golf world, and damnit, that sucks.  So how are we going to spend our time before the Benz in a few weeks and the “real” start to the tour in a few months?  Why, listing the hell out of everything we can, that’s how.

Sometimes there are players that just don’t get the credit they’re due.  No matter what these guys do, it’s never enough to escape the shadow of the bigger named players that have the caché and media appeal despite the fact that, often, these guys are superior players.  For every Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, there’s a Billy Casper, who during one stretch had won more tournaments worldwide than the Big 3 combined, but wasn’t signed with IMG and didn’t get the clippings.  Or there’s a Larry Nelson, who won three majors, was a Ryder Cupper par excellence and the most royally screwed guy by the PGA in history.

So, keep on reading to swee who we think are the most underrated golfers on the PGA Tour heading into 2009.

1. Robert Allenby:  He played in 28 events in 2008…and missed the cut ONCE.  Allenby can flat out strike the ball, right up there with the Singhs and Garcias of the PGA, as evidenced by finishing 2nd in GIR’s and 19th in total driving, but, like pretty much 90% of PGA’ers, fell short when he actually reached the greens or just missed.  Tell me if you’ve heard me say this before…if he could’ve holed more putts, he would’ve been a force.  I’m beginning to bore myself.

But lets look a little closer at some of his top-10’s…7th at the Northern Trust at Riviera, 4th at the Honda, 4th at Wachovia, 2nd at St. Jude, 3rd at the AT&T, and 7th at the Open.  These are some of the premier events on tour, yet you almost never hear about this guy.  I guess “drive for show, putt for dough,” means something after all.

2.  Geoff Ogilvy:  Quick, what do you remember about the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot?  Phil’s collapse?  Monty’s 6-iron shank?  Tiger missing the cut?  Do you even remember who ended up winning?  Yea, it was this guy.  Who ended Tiger’s winning streak this year?  Him again.  Who’s one of the strongest ballstrikers on tour who can couple that length with creative shortgame and solid putting?  Ogilvy.

Winning at Doral, hell, any WGC event, is huge, a notch below winning a major and right on par with winning The Players or a FedEx Cup event, but when coupled with a 2nd at the Shell Houston Open, and top 10’s at Colonial, the Memorial and the US Open, yea, that’s a pretty nice resume.  Who cares that he got shafted by the screwy and rollercoaster-esque (and BS) new FedEx Cup scoring system?  That’s a great resume for any player, especially one who only played the top events of the year.  It’s a crime he’s not more well known…what’s it going to take?  Another major?  That’ll probably happen, but will anyone notice?

3. DJ Trahan:  I’ve said this before…putting is the only thing holding this phenomenal ballstriker from being on top of leaderboards on a weekly basis.  If you look at Trahan’s stats, nothing really jumps out at you…average driving, average GIR’s, poor putting, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.  While I just spent a good 1,000 words telling you about how great Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair are, Trahan is almost a carbon copy of these two.  What he lacks in statistical girth he makes up for in avoiding high numbers and consistently being able to find his way into the 60’s, no matter the course (well, except at the Memorial where he was meh).

So what impresses me about Trahan aside from his game?  Howabout a 4th at the US Open or an 8th at Bridgestone?  Or maybe making it to the final 32 in the FedEx Cup?  This is heady stuff for a 28 year old who, if maybe he had a better club deal with someone other than Wilson, would be plastered in seemingly every ad in Golf Digest.

pat_perez1_2994. Pat Perez:  Everyone’s favorite angry golfer.  While nothing statistical about DJ Trahan jumped out at you, EVERYTHING statistical about Pat Perez does.  Big hitter who can hit GIR’s and can putt and score…16th birdies, 6th in eagles.  But where consistency is the name of the game with Trahan, volatility is Perez’ issue.  Do you have any idea what he’s going to shoot from one round to the next?  Me neither as Perez is equally likely to shoot a high 70’s number as he is to shoot in the low 60’s.  He can score in bunches, but one has to think his temper is getting the best of him at times, especially when it comes to weather at the Open.

Regardless of all that, the man can flat out play golf.  If you give him a relatively easy track and perfect weather, expect to see something low.  Plus, he’s 32, and ridiculously talented golfers hitting this age tend to grasp the game metnally a whole lot better than a brash, skilled younger dude.  Don’t be surprised if you see a Players or WGC or, hell, even a major in the next few years.

5. Ben Curtis:  I put him down here because, a.) I don’t want to look like a homer because we’re from the same area (NE Ohio) and b.) how can someone who made the 2008 Ryder Cup really be underrated?  Well, when that person finishes 2nd at Wachovia, 7th at the Open, 2nd at the PGA, 4th at the Barclays, and 5th at the TOUR Championship from July to late September AND has a British Open win on the resume, well, that guy should get a ton more press.

Steady describes Curtis’ game.  Not particularly long, but accurate, creative around the greens and solid with the flatstick, Big Ben is going always be near the top of leaderboards at difficult courses, and he has been doing that pretty much his entire career.  It shocks me that people still call his win at the Open a fluke when he consistently is around the top-10, and has been the last few years.  For a guy who’s more known for his NFL-sponsored wardrobe than his on-course accomplishments, staying in the background might be welcome, but it’s just a shame that nobody notices how good Curtis really is.

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