Tee to Green: Huh? A roundabout journey to PGA Tour success

Most PGA Tour golfers played in college.

- Tiger Woods won the 1996 NCAA Championship at Stanford and was named Collegiate Player of the Year.

- Phil Mickelson won 16 tournaments at Arizona State and joined Gary Hallberg, David Duval and Bryce Molder as the only four-time, first-team All-Americans in golf history.

- Rickie Fowler, Charles Howell III, Hunter Mahan, Edward Loar, Michael Bradley and Scott Verplank all attended golf powerhouse Oklahoma State.

- Jason Dufner was an honorable-mention All-America in 1997 at Auburn despite not picking up a club until he was 15.

John Huh lacks similar credentials. He didn't play in college. In fact, he barely went to college. Yet he is your 2012 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

Huh's route to PGA prominence has been circuitous to say the least.

Born in New York, he was raised in his parents' native South Korea for 12 years before the family returned to the States and took up residence in Chicago.

Three years later they were on the move again; this time settling in California, where Huh attended Crescenta Valley High near Los Angeles.

Huh played on the golf team, but he wasn't its best player.

"I was decent," Huh remembered earlier this year. "I wasn't really good, but I was okay."

He was okay enough to garner interest from several college coaches, but thanks to an NCAA policy change, Huh once again found himself on the move.

The then-recently changed rule required 16 core courses for a student to be scholarship eligible. Huh had 15.

"I took my summer school and tried to do everything I could do," he said. "I ended up one course short, so I couldn't get any scholarships."

Huh attended Cal State Northridge for two weeks, sans scholarship, and then left to turn pro -- on the Korean Tour.

After three successful years of refinement, Huh tried his hand at Q School in 2011 and made the cut on the number to earn his PGA Tour card.

Huh had made it back to the States as a much-deserved professional, but without the notoriety of collegiate and Tour success, he remained relatively unknown.

That didn't last long.

In February, just five events into his PGA Tour career, Huh picked up his first victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

He did so in memorable fashion, carding a bogey-free, 8-under 63 on the final day to overcome a 7-stroke deficit and force a playoff with Robert Allenby. There, the pair fought for eight holes -- tying for the second-longest playoff in PGA Tour history and the first eight-hole playoff since 1983 -- before Huh finally secured the win with a par against Allenby's bogey on the par-3 10th.

In April, he overcame a disastrous start at the Valero Texas Open and played the last 3 1/2 rounds at 14-under to finish tied for second with Matt Every.

For the season, Huh recorded four top-10 finishes and 12 top-25 results. He made the cut in 22 of 28 tournaments, reeled in nearly $3 million in earnings, and was the only rookie to advance to the Tour Championship.

On Tuesday, Huh, who counts his father as his primary swing coach, was chosen by his peers as the 2012 Rookie of the Year.

"I was speechless," said Huh. "I couldn't say anything for two minutes and after two minutes I called my dad and said that we did it."

From New York, to Korea, to Chicago, to LA; back to Korea, to PGA Tour success.


Sounds roundabout doesn't it?

Well ... it was; and, clearly, it worked.