TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 24: Kevin Kisner
Kisner proved he had nerves of steel and a flair for the dramatic in 2017
December 07, 2017
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
Mickelson, Kisner win match 2&1 at the Presidents Cup
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
On or off the course, Kevin Kisner seldom fails to entertain.
He’s also very, very good.
The former Georgia Bulldog first made news in 2015 when he lost three playoffs in one season, becoming the first to hit that bittersweet trifecta since Horton Smith in 1937. All he’s done since is win twice, rack up more top-10s, and, last fall, make his first Presidents Cup team.
At Liberty National, his partner on the U.S. team was none other than Phil Mickelson, who has played in every Presidents Cup. Kisner soaked up every minute.
“He probably wants me to be as hyped up as I can be,” Kisner said of Mickelson before the matches. “He's fired up. He's grabbing me every five minutes and telling me something that I don't understand, and then we go on.”
As it turned out, Kisner understood fine, going undefeated (2-0-2) while compiling three points in the U.S. Team’s winning effort. He and Mickelson won two of their three matches and halved the other. Kisner was so clutch and such a fine addition, you almost couldn’t fault him for his goofy “Three Amigos” victory dance with Mickelson.
None of which was a surprise. (OK, the dance was a surprise.)
Kisner contended until the bitter end at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow (T4). He hit one of the clutch shots of the year at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a 95-foot chip that rattled the stick and dropped for eagle, forcing extra holes as dusk fell. (Jonas Blixt and Cam Smith ultimately beat Kisner and Scott Brown in the two-man team event.)
At the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, Kisner drained a bloodless five-footer on the 72nd hole for a one-stroke victory over Sean O’Hair, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth. And he nearly made history at the Sony Open in Hawaii, where he missed an eagle putt of just over 10 feet that would have given him a third-round 59. (The 60 bettered his career low on TOUR by three.)
“Kis” is fired up, and he’s just getting started.
Current 2017-18 position: 70th
Playoff appearances: 4
TOUR Championship appearances: 3
Best result: 12th (2017)
BY THE NUMBERS
INSIGHTS FROM OUR INSIDERS
TOUR INSIDER by Ben Everill
Kisner has shown himself good enough to be part of the elite names on TOUR now and this season is about maintaining, and improving. A winner in the last two seasons, Kizner should now expect nothing less than another trophy in 2018. Don’t be surprised if it comes in Hawaii before the new year is very old. He’s good in every aspect of the game, making up for any perceived lack of distance. And his competitive spirit is not to be underestimated. This guy is a bulldog -- a straight-up grinder and fighter.
FANTASY INSIDER by Rob Bolton
If this annual series focuses on fantasy value, you wouldn't be reading about him for another week. I slotted the 33-year-old from South Carolina 17th in my full-membership fantasy ranking during the sliver of the offseason, so his appearance here represents the first noticeable drop from there to here. That speaks both to the strength remaining in the Top 30 and his underrated value in our world. He's fresh off a career season (in his prime) in which he established a career low for missed cuts (three) for the fourth consecutive season all the while recording a career-high eight top 10s. While average in distance off the tee, he does everything else from well to outstanding. Fearless.
EQUIPMENT INSIDER by Jonathan Wall
Kisner's Callaway Great Big Bertha driver has a custom 20-gram slide weight that replaced the two 10-gram weights he used to have in the track. Callaway GBB Epic fairway wood and 58-degree Fourteen Golf wedge were the only new additions to the bag last season.
STYLE INSIDER by Greg Monteforte
Kisner’s style can best be described as contemporary takes on classic looks. In 2017, he made the rare mid-season apparel shift and his new Dunning threads fit him to a tee. Here’s hoping we see more of the same from Kiz in 2018.