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Saturday, August 11, 2012
Updated: August 13, 3:43 AM ET
The most underrated man on tour?

By Jake Howard

Between heats a the ISA Masters in Nicaragua, Shea Lopez made the argument, "Chris Ward is one of the top 15 surfers in the world, hands down." He was specific about Ward's ability not directly being reflected in his competitive results, more the way he reads the water, the waves he catches, how he catches, and how he rides them with reckless aplomb.

Josh Kerr could very well fall into the same category. Currently rated seventh on the ASP World Tour, he could -- maybe if he wanted to and wasn't such a gregarious guy -- be a world title contender. This year he's finished the semifinals of the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast and the Billabong Pro Rio. But oddly, the last event he actually won dates back to Oct. 15, 2010, the Cold Water Classic in Tofinio, Canada.

But like Lopez noted, results don't belie ability. Kerr is one hundred percent the complete surfing package. He's one of the best, most consistent performers in the air. He has every grab, tweak and rotation down. He does air reverses in his sleep. But as we saw last year at the Billabong Pro in Tahiti, the man has some serious stones and will go on anything. He charges as hard, if not harder than anybody on tour. An Australian transplant living in San Diego, Calif., today, ESPN Surfing caught up with him while he rehabbed a grade-2 ankle tear sustained during round one of the Volcom Fiji Pro. He's back in the water now, and like so many athletes that have come back from injury, maybe more dangerous than ever.