Talent pool is deeper than ever on the PGA Tour
by Associated Press
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - The next time the PGA Tour trots out its "These Guys Are Good" campaign, it doesn't need to show any spectacular shots, just a bunch of unfamiliar faces.
Andre Stolz won in Las Vegas. Ryan Palmer won at Disney. Vaughn Taylor won at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
Palmer became the 10th first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year by closing with a 62 last week, although that's hardly news. Two years ago, there were 18 players who won for the first time.
What stands out in 2004 is that five of them were on the Nationwide Tour last year - Stolz, Palmer, Taylor, Mark Hensby and Zach Johnson. Todd Hamilton got his card at Q-school, then won the Honda Classic and British Open.
"It's getting harder just to get out here," Tiger Woods said. "Then once you get out here, it's harder to stay because you have to shoot lower scores ... on more difficult golf courses. The pool is getting deeper and deeper."
Small wonder that when Briny Baird walked off the course Sunday with a runner-up finish at the Funai Classic, he told PGA Tour rules official Jon Brendle, "This is a really, really tough tour to win on."
More evidence came this month.
Everyone is capable of winning, but players usually have been building toward a good week when it happens. That wasn't the case in Las Vegas, where Stolz' best finish was a tie for 34th in New Orleans. He was 217th on the money list, then put together rounds of 67-67-65-67 to win.
Brent Geiberger, whose only other victory came in 1999, was 144th on the money list when he won in Greensboro. Taylor had missed two straight cuts, then won at Reno.
"The guys are good. The slogan does not lie," Vijay Singh shrugged after he tied for second at Disney. "Anybody who is on the tour has the capability of playing well and winning golf tournaments."