Surprising PGA Tour Winners
July 08, 2013
Russell Henley, Sony Open
Much was expected of this University of Georgia product when he turned pro, but to win in his debut event on the PGA Tour? Yeah, that's pretty special. The way he did it wasn't too shabby, either: the 23-year-old birdied his final four holes for a staggering 24-under-par 256 total, breaking the tournament scoring record by four shots.
John Merrick, Northern Trust Open
Merrick's breakthrough win at Riviera was a storybook finish for the native of Long Beach, Calif., who came of age just down the road on the UCLA campus. The playoff victory over Charlie Beljan was his first PGA Tour title in his 169th start. "As a kid, you dream about playing the tournament one day," said Merrick, who attended the event numerous times while growing up. "But to win it, you know, I never factored in winning."
Michael Thompson, Honda Classic
Thompson became a known entity at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, but faded back to oblivion with a slow start to 2013. But after three missed cuts (he shot 78-80 at Riviera in his previous event) and a T-78, the University of Alabama product earned his first PGA Tour win.
Scott Brown, Puerto Rico Open
Even among a field of lesser-known players (the big names were teeing it up at Doral that week) Brown emerged as a surprising first-time winner. A rough rookie season in 2012 left him at No. 148 on the money list and with only conditional status for 2013. But he took advantage in the second event of the year, getting into the field and earning playing privileges on the game's top tour for the next two years.
Kevin Streelman, Tampa Bay Championship
The one-time million-dollar winner of the Kodak Challengegot a more typical million-dollar payday with his first PGA Tour win in his 153rd career start. The victory raised Streelman's game to another level as he ripped off three straight top-six finishes just a month later.
D.A. Points, Shell Houston Open
Known as the guy who danced his way to victory with Bill Murray at Pebble Beach in 2010, Points validated his win in Texas. The timing was particularly surprising since he arrived in Houston with a T-63, a T-68 and seven missed cuts under his belt in 2013.
Martin Laird, Valero Texas Open
The Scot is probably the most established name on this list with two prior PGA Tour titles. However, not even he could see this win coming. Laird's best finish in eight starts in 2013 was a T-34 before winning in San Antonio. And to top it off, he did it by holding off Rory McIlroy with a final-round 63.
Derek Ernst, Wells Fargo Championship
Playing in just his seventh event as a pro, Ernst, a former standout at UNLV, won one of the bigger non-major tournaments on the PGA Tour. Not bad for someone who came into the week ranked 1,207th in the world -- and as the tournament's fourth alternate.
Boo Weekley, Crowne Plaza Invitational
Another former PGA Tour winner who had fallen on hard times, Weekley emerged from the pack at Colonial to pick up his third career title and end a drought of more than five years. It also marked his first victory at a course not named Harbour Town.
Harris English, FedEx St. Jude Classic
Like Henley, English is a former Georgia Bulldog with plenty of upside, but after a quiet rookie year on tour, he made a big statement in Memphis. The check for more than $1 million nearly matched what he earned in 27 events in 2012.
Ken Duke, Travelers Championship
If you look up the word journeyman in a dictionary, you'd probably find a picture of this 44-year-old. But now Duke can also be called a PGA Tour winner thanks to a playoff win over Chris Stroud in his 187th career start on tour.
Jonas Blixt, Greenbrier Classic
The Swede won a fall series event in 2012 at the Frys.com Open, but hadn't carried that momentum over into his second season on the PGA Tour. That is, until a trip to the Greenbrier Classic. With rounds of 66-67-67-67, Blixt made his first top 10 of 2013 his first regular-season win and locked up his first trip to the Masters in the process.