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The Biggest Surprises so Far on the 2014 PGA Tour

Mike DudurichContributor IMay 12, 2014

The Biggest Surprises so Far on the 2014 PGA Tour

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    Jimmy Walker takes on the island green 17th at the Players Championship.
    Jimmy Walker takes on the island green 17th at the Players Championship.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    There are all kinds of surprises.

    Pleasant and unpleasant.

    Shocking and horrifying.

    Jimmy Walker has to be the surprise of the year, getting his first three PGA Tour victories after 188 starts.

    But there are a handful of others who fit into the surprise categories.

    Here's a list of my seven surprises thus far in 2014.

Jimmy Walker

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    Jimmy Walker has been a fixture atop the FedEx Cup points standings.
    Jimmy Walker has been a fixture atop the FedEx Cup points standings.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Jimmy Walker is a tribute to a couple of truisms on the PGA Tour.

    First, it is tough to win out there. It took Walker 188 events before he took a trophy him.

    Second, there are a lot of very talented players trying to make a living out there and most of them you've never heard of. Walker certainly fits into that category, at least until this season.

    This 35-year-old native of Oklahoma City, OK. shocked the world by winning the first event of the 2013-14 wrap-around season and then getting two more wins once the calendar turned to 2014.

    He's stayed atop the FedEx Cup points race and has posted 10 top-25 finishes in his last 12 starts. Walker has earned more than twice as much as he's ever earned in a single season, $4.5 million.

    Walker seemed like a likely candidate to flame out as quickly as he flamed up, but he has played very consistently in this, the best year he's had as a professional.

Martin Kaymer

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    Martin Kaymer picked a great week to make a big statement about his comeback.
    Martin Kaymer picked a great week to make a big statement about his comeback.John Raoux/Associated Press

    It's not often a player ranked 61st in the world, riding an almost two-year winless streak and rarely seen on a PGA Tour leaderboard recently finds himself holding the big crystal trophy that goes to the winner of the Players Championship.

    But there was Martin Kaymer, throwing his hat into the ring for comeback player of the year consideration becoming a relevant player again.

    He was the No. 1 player in the world in 2011 and held that spot for eight weeks before fading badly for a long stretch of time. He jumped into promise by winning the PGA Championship in 2010 and won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2012.

    Kaymer's win Sunday was surprising and he would most likely be surprised to learn he joined Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott as the only players to have racked up a major title, a World Golf Championship and the Players.

Phil Mickelson

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    This pose has been struck too many times by Phil Mickelson this year.
    This pose has been struck too many times by Phil Mickelson this year.John Raoux/Associated Press

    Phil Mickelson definitely qualifies as one of the biggest surprises to tee it up in 2014, but he also might be the biggest mystery in the game.

    Here's all you need to know: Mickelson has no top-10s in a dozen starts on the PGA Tour this year. None.

    His best finish was a T11 at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    Mickelson has not been in serious contention all year, although he did post a 63 on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Championship to run up the scoreboard, only to fall back down again with a 76 on Sunday.

    The guy was outstanding in 2013, two wins, two seconds and two thirds.

    How does it change so much in one year?

     

Sergio Garcia

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    Sergio Garcia is starting to become relevant again in golf.
    Sergio Garcia is starting to become relevant again in golf.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Sergio Garcia has been making plenty of money on the PGA Tour but has won once (2012 Wyndham Championship) since 2008.

    And then comes 2014 and the petulant Spaniard has seven top-25s in eight starts.

    Garcia has been in the hunt several times this year and was in position to win.

    He is a creative golfer who fans love to watch when he's playing well.

    That seems to be where he is at this point so there could be fun times ahead.

Will MacKenzie

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    Will MacKenzie is having a very good season on the PGA Tour.
    Will MacKenzie is having a very good season on the PGA Tour.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    In the last three seasons, Will MacKenzie has earned a little over $500,000 on the PGA Tour.

    This year, the 39-year-old has tripled that total already. He's registered five top-10s and nine top-25s.

    MacKenzie has struggled to get to and stay on the PGA Tour. He's had odd jobs like selling Christmas trees and, at one point, he lived out of his van for five months.

    He's doing his present job very well, posting a top-five and nine top-25s in 17 starts.

    MacKenzie is 22nd on the PGA Tour money list after earning just $236,211 last year.

     

Graham Delaet

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    Graham Delaet is getting better and better.
    Graham Delaet is getting better and better.Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Graham DeLaet has improved each of the last two years on the PGA Tour and appears to be on the path to doing just that again.

    He's earned over $1.7 million and has a pair of seconds and five top-10s in just events.

    And while the word on DeLaet was he was a good ball-striker, it was no doubt something of a surprise to find DeLaet atop the greens in regulation statistical category.

    He's hit an amazing 72.88 percent of his greens in regulation, which would go a long way toward explaining him being 23rd on this year's money list.

Patrick Reed

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    Patrick Reed was red-hot early in the season.
    Patrick Reed was red-hot early in the season.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    When Patrick Reed started off the 2014 portion of the PGA Tour season with a string of six top-25 finishes, including his second and third wins, it looked like his was going to be the brightest star on the tour.

    Since then, however, Reed has flamed out. In his five starts after winning the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and proclaiming himself one of the top five players in the world, he's missed three cuts and T48 and T52.

    It's surprising Reed has fallen off as he has. His game was as strong as anybody's on tour and the sky seemed to be the limit.

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