A week from this upcoming Sunday the Kodak Challenge will wrap up as the 2011 PGA Tour season comes to an end as well. We’ve seen some of the most exciting finishes all year in these last few Fall Series events. Between Rocco Mediate’s four hole-out eagles, and Jonathan Byrd’s ace on the fourth playoff hole to win in Vegas, it’s been a wild few weeks. Will this continue as we head to the season’s last event at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Disney? Some of the potential fireworks may come from the side-show for the event, the race to the Kodak Challenge $1 million prize.

Currently rookie Troy Merritt has a one stroke lead over close buddy (and most likely Rookie of the Year) Rickie Fowler. Also one stroke back is Aaron Baddeley, who despite some early struggles this season, has seen some success over the second half, including a top 10 last week in Vegas.

Neither Fowler or Baddeley have committed to playing at Disney, as Fowler has been playing over in Asia for the past couple weeks and Badds is potentially teeing it up at the Australian Masters, so there is potential that Merritt may not even have any competition!

When asked about the possibility of neither of them being there at Disney, Merritt said, “I’d like to have both of them there, just to make it fun, make it interesting, making birdies, but at the same time, their travel commitments, they are what they are and if they can’t make it, they can’t make it.”

Merritt must have a lot on his mind between the Kodak Challenge and also being on the bubble of even keeping his card, as he currently sits at 121st on the money list. Although I guess an extra $1 million in your pocket will make having to head back to Q-school not all THAT bad.

It would be nice to see both Fowler and Badds there and Merritt hang on to win, AND keep his card. I guess you could certainly count that as a successful rookie campaign then.

Jeff Palopoli is a frequent contributor to MyNEGM.com and writes on his blog at www.goodwalkgolf.com.