Well, here we go again.
Brandt Snedeker is the latest professional golfer to go on a hot streak, which of course means that the fans and media must anoint him as golf’s “next big thing.”
It’s as if golf fans and the media have entered into some form of a formal contract—a guy wins a tournament or two and he has to be labeled as golf’s next big thing, no questions asked.
Of course, this is nothing new in the world of golf. This has been going on for years. The only surprising part of this whole situation is that the fans and media have not yet learned their lesson.
Remember when Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas graced the cover of Golf World Magazine?
These two guys were truly the “next generation” of professional golfers. They were young, they were hip, they were incredibly talented and the fans loved them. The only question worth asking was which one of these bright young stars would win a major first.
Well, fast forward a few years and Villegas has lost his tour card, and, barring any sort of miraculous comeback, Kim will likely lose his tour card this year as well.
How about Sean O’Hair?
After his win at the 2009 Quail Hollow Championship, the so-called “experts” were actually labeling him as the best player under the age of 30. If you go back and review the television and media coverage of O’Hair from 2009, you’d expect that the guy would have won four majors by now.
Remember Jhonattan Vegas?
Boy, he was really golf’s next big thing; a big-hitting superstar from South America who won just his second PGA Tour event. This guy was the real deal—the whole package.
Vegas had just two top-10s in 2012 and missed the cut in more than half of the events he attended. So far in 2013, he is 3-for-3 in missed cuts, and being that this is the final year of his two-year exemption for winning the 2011 Humana Challenge, he too is endanger of losing his tour card at the end of the 2013 season.
Sure, the kids love his style, but he is far from golf’s “next big thing” on the course. Fowler has just one win in three years on tour and has cracked the top 10 just once in 12 major championship appearances. This guy could legitimately be golf’s version of Anna Kournikova.
Then we come to Snedeker.
Snedeker is on a hot streak, there is no question about that.
But golf’s “next big thing?”
Snedeker has just four top-10s at the majors during the first seven years of his PGA Tour career. He’s made the cut just once at the Players Championship and has cracked the top 10 just once in a World Golf Championship event.
Rory McIlroy might truly be golf’s next big thing.
He has won two majors and 10 professional events by the age of 23. McIlroy also has 10 top-10 finishes in 15 appearances at WGC events, not to mention that he is the second-youngest player to ever reach No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings.
McIlroy is legit. He has accomplished what a player needs to accomplish in order to gain the label of golf’s “next big thing.”
Snedeker, on the other hand, has a long way to go before even being considered the type of star that will have any kind of meaningful and lasting impact in the game of golf.
That’s not to say that Snedeker won’t go on to win majors and rack up many more PGA Tour titles, and if he does, well, then he can truly be labeled as “golf’s next big thing.”
But as for now, Snedeker is simply a very good golfer on a hot streak. He’s not the first nor will he be the last talented PGA Tour professional to go on a hot streak.
If we’ve learned anything over the past five years, it’s that Snedeker is far more likely to cool down and go back to being just a good touring pro than he is to evolve into a player who will win multiple major championships.
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
They say Einstein was a pretty smart dude. So, perhaps it might be prudent to think back to one of Einstein’s most famous phrases before bestowing the label of golf’s “next big thing” onto every single golfer that happens to go on a hot streak.