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Players Of The Half Year

Half way through the year, Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie lead our race for Players of the Year. (Darren Carroll, USGA/Kevin Burns, Front Row Shots)
Half way through the year, Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie lead our race for Players of the Year.
(Darren Carroll, USGA/Kevin Burns, Front Row Shots)

The calendar year isn’t quite half completed yet. But if you buy fresh milk off the shelf today, its expiration date will be in the month of July.

Yes the season has gone fast, especially now that the PGA Tour in the States has come on board with the concept of starting its events in the autumn of the year before it ends.

All of which is a long way around the notion that it’s time to pick the leading candidates, male and female, for Player of the Year in professional golf.

On the men’s side, it’s easy: Martin Kaymer.

The 29-year-old German has won a Players Championship and a U.S. Open. The only surprising part about that, now that we saw the methodical way he dismantled the field and the golf course at Pinehurst last week, is that his efforts have elevated him no higher than No. 11 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

So, clearly, even though Kaymer isn’t world No. 1 at the moment, his form is better than anybody else’s and it’s not really close.

The best chance anybody else has of catching Kaymer is probably Bubba Watson, who won his second Masters in three years in April.

But Watson is, to say the least, unpredictable. And who knows what he will produce at Hoylake at the Open Championship where the weather can be wildly changeable, or in the Kentucky heat at the PGA Championship in August.

By then all roads will be leading to the Ryder Cup in Scotland later this year, where the Europeans will be favored to continue their dominance in the event that means so much to them.

In case you have forgotten (and nobody on the east side of Atlantic has) it was Kaymer who holed the winning putt for the Euros two years ago at Medinah, near Chicago.

On the women’s side, the Player of the Year discussion is a bit tougher. They play more majors. And they have more weeks off.

My Player of the Year so far on the distaff side is Michelle Wie. She has just one win, but eight top-10s in 12 starts and 11 top-20s. Wie is, arguably, playing more consistently than any other woman on the planet. This, from a monster talent who played so inconsistently for so long as a teen and into her early 20s.

She’s No. 2 in the Race to the CME Globe standings; second in LPGA greens in regulation; second in putts per green in regulation and No. 2 in scoring. Nobody has had more rounds under par this season (40) than Wie.

To be sure, you can make cases for Stacy Lewis, Karrie Webb, Lexi Thompson and maybe even Lydia Ko. World No. 1 Lewis probably would get the most votes at this point. She dominates most statistical categories. So, yes, Wie is a bit of a contrarian pick.

We’re just a few weeks away from the Women’s British. The winner there, if it’s not Lewis, will emerge, too, as a POY candidate. If it’s Wie, all bets are off. She will have come full circle from prodigy to disappointment to No. 1. And she’s still, like Kaymer, just in her 20s.


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