By Stefan Gestwicki
Star Contributing Writer
In the last entry, I examined the key reason why I can’t get into the professional golf scene. I certainly love golf. I avidly watch regular season baseball, so I’m able to enjoy the so-called “boring” sports on TV.
The reason, of course, is that I don’t have anyone specific to root for. I appreciate the talents of the athletes. I certainly marvel at the courses. I admire the international nature of golf. But all of those things aren’t enough to fully draw me in.
Last time, I looked at some of the obvious choices — Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson — but none of those guys could do it for me. So I’ll be digging a little deeper in this article.
Here are the new candidates:
RICKEY FOWLER — If there’s one thing that could always be said for Fowler, it’s that he has the look. He wears eye-popping outfits that can be spotted from just about anywhere on the course. He plays with a California swagger, too. This season, he also appears to be putting it all together on the scorecard as he’s currently ranked seventh on the PGA Tour. If someone told me their favorite golfer was Rickey Fowler, I wouldn’t judge them one bit. He’s a good choice.
JASON DAY/SERGIO GARCIA — I’m lumping these two guys together because, for whatever reason, they’ve both always rubbed me the wrong way. Admittedly, I’ve never really watched much golf, but there must have been something I saw that turned me off of these two popular stars. I’m including them on the list just so people don’t think I forgot about them. Honestly, the fact that Day is Australian and Garcia is Spanish probably eliminates them anyway. If I’m cheering for someone, I’m almost certainly picking an American.
PHIL MICKELSON — “Lefty” has to be one of the easiest guys in sports to root for. During his prime, he was something of the “Peyton Manning of golf.” He had an awful lot of second-place finishes but just couldn’t seem to win the big one. Well, that changed and Mickelson has since won three green jackets among five Major victories. His aggressive approach is fun to watch as he takes risks other golfers wouldn’t even consider. His short game is second to none. Really, if he wasn’t already 47 years old, Mickelson would probably be the guy. He’s still ranked No. 37, but I’d hate to latch onto a guy only to see him retire shortly after.
WESLEY BRYAN — Perhaps still known for his wildly entertaining trick-shot videos with his brother George, Bryan is now making a splash on the PGA Tour. In 2016, he was named the Web.com Tour Player of the Year. If you recall, that’s the tour that has come to Peek n’ Peak each of the past two seasons. And yes, Bryan played in that tournament. Bryan won his first PGA Tour event at the RBC Heritage, which secured him a spot in the 2018 Masters. He’s American (Columbia, South Carolina). He’s still young (27 years old). He’s good (obviously). He’s fun (seriously, check out those YouTube vidoes). Oh, and I forgot to mention that I had the pleasure of interviewing him when he and his brother came to Shorewood Country Club in Dunkirk for a trick-shot demonstration before the 2016 LECOM Health Challenge. He was extremely easy to talk to and a great interview.
So there you go, ladies and gentlemen. If I HAD to pick a favorite golfer, it would be Wesley Bryan. By no means to do expect this to totally hook me. I mean, why watch golf when I could go play golf?
Oh, and I didn’t include any women golfers, but Lexi Thompson would make an intriguing favorite golfer. She’s the top-ranked American woman on the LPGA Tour. She qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 12! She won a European Tour event at just 16 years old. That’s fun stuff.
Now that we’ve turned the calendars over to 2018, it really feels like we’re nearing golf season. Even if that’s not exactly true, I’m excited and anxious to see what this season will bring. A hole-in-one? My best round ever? Finding another reliable playing partner? Only time will tell.
Until then, golf is great. Go get some.