Best Golfer - 2011
After a convincing 2009 win at Q School, Spring Lake Park High grad and former Winona State golfer Troy Merritt had an eventful rookie season on the PGA Tour. Playing in 29 tournaments during the 2010 season, Merritt made 14 cuts and tallied four top-25 finishes. At the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April 2010, he fired a Sunday 67 to duel with the leaders before finishing with a career-best third-place close. That hot bayou finish earned the onetime Minnesota prep all-stater (in golf and basketball) a cool $435,200. Yet that bulky payday would later be bettered by Merritt's autumn win of the Kodak Challenge, a 30-hole cumulative, season-long tally of what's dubbed as "the greatest scorecard in golf." Merritt's sudden-death, three-man playoff win in the challenge earned him $1 million. Asked what he was going to do with the cash, the 25-year-old newlywed replied, "Well, the first thing I'm going to do is buy my wife a new car." That fall day was doubly sweet for Merritt. His bogey-free final round of the season placed him at number 125 on the tour money list for the year, earning him the final slot to keep his card for 2011. The challenge win aside, Merritt earned nearly $800K in his first year on tour and ranked among the top 50 players in several statistical categories, including putting average (36th) and putts per round (46th). That same hot putter hasn't materialized yet in the '11 season, but this wispy guy's history portends a bright future.