KAPALUA, Hawaii — Maybe it's because he doesn't have huge biceps or a belt buckle the size of a bread plate. D.J. Trahan is overlooked and underrated, and while he doesn't usually mention it, he knows it.
His next (posed) magazine cover will be his first, and while the Golf Channel has been polling viewers over who will have the better 2009, A.K. (Anthony Kim) or Camilo "Spiderman" Villegas, Trahan has just as many career victories as they do — two each.
Trahan is in his twenties (28), hits it hugely long off the tee, sometimes struggles with his putting and works hard to overcome that limitation. So far he's only done so for periods of a week or a month or so, and those periods, not coincidentally, are when he has contended or won.
That also describes Villegas, but the difference in exposure between him and Trahan is staggering. Trahan has not been featured in GQor Peoplemagazines (Villegas is apparently one of our hottest bachelors). D.J. is not part of the PGA Tour's "These guys are good" promotional campaign.
"Whenever I'm watching the Golf Channel or whenever anybody's talking about all the up-and-coming 20-somethings, my name is never mentioned," Trahan told me last year. "I don't ever say anything about it — you're the first person to ever ask me about it — but yeah, I feel extremely overlooked. I'm still looking to play better golf. I'm working hard. I need to work on my putter. It's a continual thing for me working on my putter, but you know I have won twice out here and nobody ever mentions me. What can I say? I guess I need to play better golf."
If Trahan has a flaw other than his putting it is, perhaps, that he gets down on himself. His shoulders slumped visibly when he three-putted the cupcake, 398-yard, par-4 sixth hole Friday. The bogey dropped him to 4-under total, two behind playing partner Boo Weekley, who birdied the hole. When Trahan powdered a drive but flubbed his pitch to the 532-yard, par-4 seventh, leaving himself about 70 feet short of the pin, he seemed in danger of losing composure and letting the round get away.
Alas, Trahan made the testy two-putt, then went 6-under for his next 11 holes, including a near ace on the par-3 eighth hole and an eagle 3 at 15.
"Obviously the eagle on 15 was a tremendous gift," he said. "At no point did I expect to make that putt. It had 15 feet of break on it."
Trahan is using a new set of irons this week, having switched brands from Wilson to Titleist in the off-season. But that wasn't the only thing he did in his almost three-and-a-half-month break, the longest of his career. Trahan also shot a moose, a story he shared with the media Friday — no doubt after telling hunting-mad Weekley all about it during their round.
And what did he do with the moose?
"I processed the meat," he said. "I'm eating it. At this particular moment in time, I have 350 pounds of it at home. I'm giving it away and I'm eating it. It's cool. I'm from South Carolina, so obviously nobody hunts moose in South Carolina. I'm able to give the meat away to all my friends, and I'm getting my moose head mounted to put in my house."
Maybe this will be Trahan's route to the media spotlight; he'll start wearing camouflage, hunting-themed shirts to the golf course and like magic everyone will fall under his spell. Hey, it's worked for Boo, whose shirtful of endorsements are aimed largely at the hook-and-bullet crowd. Maybe Trahan needs a cool nickname like "Spiderman" Villegas. Or perhaps the pride of Charleston, South Carolina, could star in a delightful ad campaign with his 4-year-old chocolate lab, Buckley. (Someone call Eukanuba.)
Then again, the guy who won this weekend gets plenty of attention without a nickname or even a shtick. Ogilvy, 31, is glib and dapper, but he cracked golf's A-list the old-fashioned way. He won a major.