The word “hacker” is commonly used at public golf courses, but for PGA Tour players the word gets tossed around every now and then too.
As hard as it is to make it to the PGA Tour, it’s even harder to stay there. Golfers everywhere will tell you that no round is ever the same and anything can happen on a given day to make or break the day. With the struggle being real for so many golfers, it’s really only those who people have heard about that get thrown on a list of those who “suddenly lost their game.”
In order to be considered washed-up, a player first needs to rise to the top. Therefore, a player may consistently be a top-50 player in the world, but they will only be recognized to have been falling apart if they win a major first. Someone like Tiger Woods is receiving a lot of heat right now, because even though he won multiple tournaments just two years ago, he hasn’t done anything of note lately.
Golf is a rare sport where you can’t get bailed out by your teammate or even sign a long-term deal where you can coast for a few years. Every shot and every tournament counts because wherever you finish on a given week is how much money you are going to get. If you win a few tournaments and make a lot of money, that is great, but if your game begins to struggle, it’s incredibly hard to make it back to the top.
With that being said, there have been many golfers who have gained popularity to suddenly fall off the map. Here are the top-10 golfers who have summoned to the word “hacker” and who have suddenly lost their game.
All stats were taken from PGATOUR.com.
10 John Daly
Daly may have fallen off the map competitively, but people could always find him trying to earn a buck. Daly is a fan-favorite for his ability to hit the long ball and because of his Loudmouth clothing and personality. Although he has more divorces than he does major championships, a young Daly looked to be the next big thing on the PGA Tour. Daly’s career hit an all-time low when the 47-year-old carded a 19-over par 90, and his ‘yips’ have been far too common. Daly’s off-course troubles with women and alcohol were a major factor to his career tail-spinning, but ultimately his game has not been up to par since his last major championship in 1995.
9 Trevor Immelman
From 2006-2008, Trevor Immelman won two times on the PGA Tour, including the 2008 Masters and ranked as high as 13th in the Official Golf World Rankings. At the moment, Immelman finds himself ranked 498th in the World Rankings and has fallen off the map for championship contention, missing 11 cuts in 2012, 12 cuts in 2013 and 15 cuts in 2014. A wrist injury forced Immelman to play on the Web.com Tour and finally his career somewhat came back to form when he was able to capture 2013 The Hotel Fitness Championship to get his first professional win since the 2008 Masters. In terms of where his career looks to be heading, Immelman is definitely lost, but at only 35-years-old, there is still some time for him to get back to Major Championship contention.
8 David Howell
In 2006, Howell was the highest ranked Englishman in the world and at one point was ranked within the Top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings. Holding off Tiger Woods in the Final Round, at his prime, to win the HSBC Championship in China, Howell was at the peak and looked as if he would be one of the key European players for years to come. Howell is a two-time Ryder Cup winner, but he's continuing to struggle on the European Tour to make cuts and win tournaments. For someone who looked like he'd lead Ryder Cup teams for years to come, injuries and inconsistency cost Howell a shot at European greatness.
7 Lee Janzen
During a span from 1992-1998, Lee Janzen was one of the best golfers in the world, having won eight times, including two U.S Open's and The Players Championship. To win one of those tournaments would be a fluke, but once a player wins two major championships, they are for real. However, after his win at the 1998 U.S Open, Janzen disappeared and hasn’t won a tournament since. In 2011, the former major winner was sent to PGA Tour Q-School. Although Janzen was at a point where he was winning enough to contend for the number one raking in the world, his career fizzled and he was never able to get back to that point.
6 Chris DiMarco
If it wasn’t for Tiger Woods in the mid-2000s, Chris DiMarco may have won mutliple majors. He was probably the most consistent golfer on the PGA Tour from 2004-2006, finishing second to Woods at the Masters as well as The Open Championship. However, he ran out of steam by 2007 and hasn't been relevant ever since. A shoulder injury forced him to get surgery in 2007 and that was pretty much the end of DiMarco’s run. At 45-years-old, he only competes sporadically and there are definitely no signs of a DiMarco comeback anytime soon.
5 Mike Weir
There has never been a bigger Canadian golf figure than Mike Weir and with such high praise after his 2003 Masters victory, there looked to be many more big moments to come from the Canuck. Weir’s Official World Golf Rankings fell to as low as 1,474th in 2012 after injuries from 2010 caused him to miss many tournaments and lose his game. Weir’s career began to nosedive as he was relying on sponsor’s exemptions in order to play in PGA Tour events until 2014, but fortunately a second place finish at the Byron Nelson Championship derailed Weir from losing his card. Although Weir was able to be relevant again for a tournament last season, his career has derailed to point where no one expects him to play on the weekends. Hopefully his career continues to trend upwards, but only time will tell.
4 Padraig Harrington
Harrington is the latest case of a golfer who has risen to the top to ultimately sink to the bottom. A three-time major champion, Harrington had a run in 2007-08 where he won three of five majors to capture two Open Championships and one U.S Open Championship. Maybe it was just a hot peak in his career, but Harrington was never really able to recapture his glory, as he was unable to secure his PGA Tour card for the 2014-15 season. Harrington will look to seek sponsorship exceptions for the current 2014-15 season, but his career has definitely been trending downards ever since his major championship wins.
3 Anthony Kim
Anthony Kim had a lot of potential but his story turned into a depressing tale. At only 29-years-old, he has time to restructure his once promising career, but it seems as if he is going to capitalize on an Insurance Policy that can guarantee him something “north of $10 million tax free,” according to Golf.com. If Kim never plays another PGA Tour event, he’s guaranteed that money and can become incredibly rich. Kim has not really been heard from since withdrawing from the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship and we probably won't see him anytime soon. After being a team leader on the 2007 winning Ryder Cup team, it’s crazy to see where Kim’s career has gone. Injuries, partying, and fame really got the best of him.
2 David Duval
There was a time from 1997-1999 where David Duval won 11, including a come-from-behind victory at the 1999 Bob Hope Classic where he eagled the last hole to shoot 59, in one of the most amazing finishes in golfing history. Not only are 59’s rare in golf, but to do it on a Sunday to win a tournament is sublime. Duval skyrocketed to number-one in the world and was looked upon to battle Tiger Woods as the best player in the world for years to come. However, that didn’t happen and Duval fell off the map. Battling through injuries, Duval went from number-one to the 1,532nd ranked golfer in the world at one point.
1 Tiger Woods
He's arguably the greatest golfer to ever live, but right now he's fallen to 62nd in the Official World Golf Rankings. Say what you want about Tiger's legacy and career, but at this current stage, he has fallen and may never get back up. After finishing in the Top-10 in 62.4 percent of the tournaments he participated in from 1992-2009, that percentage has dropped to 32.3 percent since. The way Tiger is playing right now is horrendous. He is chunking shots, sculling shots and, most importantly, missing putts. He'll be 40-years-old in December and although golf is a sport where many peak in their 40's, the legend may be over.