In February, 2012, there were five PGA Tour events contested, with five different winners (two of whom won for the first time in their careers). Each of these professionals are deserving of consideration for Player of the Month honors. The candidates and the tournaments they won are:
Kyle Stanley, Waste Management Phoenix Open, February 2-5
Phil Mickelson, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, February 9-12
Bill Haas, Northern Trust Open, February 16-19
Hunter Mahan, WGC Accenture Match Play Championship, February 22-26
John Huh, Mayakoba Golf Classic, February 23-26
The rankings follow, with their February results:
#5. Bill Haas - Tied for 19th at Phoenix, before winning the Northern Trust Open in a playoff over Phil Mickelson. He is listed as finishing tied for 33rd at the Accenture Match Play Championship, but a tie for 33rd means he lost his opening match (equivalent to missing the cut in a stroke play tournament). Bill Haas began the month ranked #22 in the official world golf ranking (OWGR) and improved to #13 by month's end.
#4. Kyle Stanley - After ending January with a total collapse in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open, he made a remarkable comeback to win his first career PGA Tour victory at Phoenix. He also finished tied for 24th at the Northern Trust, and 17th at Accenture. Being a match play tournament, this means one win and one loss; middle of the pack at best. Kyle Stanley improved his OWGR from #87 to #48 in February.
#3. John Huh - Tied for 12th at Phoenix (2nd among our candidates) and 35th at Pebble Beach. A rookie, playing in only his 5th career event on Tour, he claimed victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in a dramatic eight hole sudden death playoff (ties for the longest playoff in PGA Tour history to determine a winner*). At the end of January, John Huh's name did not appear anywhere in the OWGR top 300, he is now ranked #137.
#2. Hunter Mahan - Started the month with a tie for 15th at Pebble Beach, followed by 24th at the Northern Trust Open. For six matches, in five days, he was unbeatable; beating OWGR #2 Rory McIlroy in the final match to win the Accenture Match Play Championship. In February, Hunter Mahan improved his world ranking from #19 to #9.
#1. Phil Mickelson - After missing the cut in January's Farmers Open, he improved to a tie for 26th at Phoenix to begin February. Won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in fine fashion, crushing Tiger Woods in a head-to-head final round pairing. Nearly claimed a second win in a row, before losing a playoff to Bill Haas at the Northern Trust. Phil Mickelson began February ranked #16 in the world and improved that to #11.
Five players, five PGA Tour champions, each worthy of consideration, but only one can finish on top. For February, 2012, that one is Phil Mickelson.
Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years and considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.
* Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum battled in an 11 hole playoff at the 1949 Motor City Open, before agreeing to be declared co-winners and share the prize.