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Top 10 Golfers to Watch in 2014

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Finally the golf season has arrived. While I missed most of the tail end due to the tears in my eyes from watching Pierce return to the Garden in a frigen Nets jersey, the play leading up to the win by Massachusetts native Scott Stallings, was rather stellar. Here around Boston it is still too cold and gets dark too early to hit the links but I am freaking jonesing. While the official PGA season started in October sometime, Torrey Pines was the real kickoff to the season. Now next weekend we get treated to the loudest course on Earth in one of the most fun tournaments of the year at the WM Phoenix Open. Most weekends from here on out will be filled with great golf, just in time with football ending.


Honorable Mention:


C. Ryo Ishikawa

At some point this kid is going to win something, make my words.

B. Steve Stricker

Last year he cut his schedule in half and still somehow finished 3rd in the final FedEx Cup standings. The only sad part about his great career is that he has never won a major. Hopefully we will get to see him win his first and the ensuing waterworks as he hugs his caddie/wife. Good for him making her work by the way.

A. Dustin Johnson

I was down on DJ last year and apparently he seemed to be as well. After his sulky slow performance in a trio of him Bubba and Colsaerts, in which Colsaerts eventually found himself playing out of a restroom, I wrote them all off. Individually I like these guys, but for some reason they played slow and constantly got put on the clock despite being three of the longest hitters on tour. They should have been the most fun threesome to watch instead they made you want to scratch your face off. After that piss poor showing in the US Open, none of them were really able to get anything going. However this is a new year and it’s time to wipe that slate clean. Other than last year, a year in which DJ was also injured by the way, DJ has been really competitive. Proof of that came in the PGA Championship last year. Despite having a shit season filled with injuries he managed to finish 8th in the season's final major and he just missed out on making the Tour Championship. Now he carries that good momentum from last season into this one. While I think his demons from those close calls in majors haunt him a bit, one thing has changed since then… now he is a Gretzky. I expect big things from this fella this upcoming season. I am back on the bandwagon, unless he gets paired with Bubba and Colsaerts in a major again, in which case someone should be fired.

10. Keegan Bradley

9. Jason Dufner

These two buds are sort of interchangeable in these positions but I’m going with the more recent success of Dufner than the promise of Bradley. Both of these guys broke through, winning their first major in the PGA Championship and both of them have odd/shaky mannerisms. They’re both characters and they’re both fun to root for. Both of these guys could be in for a huge 2014 season and you know they will be cheering each other on all the while trying to best one another. These are two of the guys that make this sport fun more than most others.

8. Matt Kuchar

Kuch, might have taken over as the best player on tour without a major championship victory. He has stuck his nose out there plenty and certainly has the talent to get the job done, he just hasn’t been able to put together four great rounds in any of them, yet. He doesn’t have the choke gene that Sergio has, so I personally think he is going to grab one eventually, quite possibly this year.

7. Zach Johnson

Here is a guy who has figured out how to succeed these past few years. He can’t bomb the ball but he can beat you with his short game. Since winning the Masters back in 2007 he hasn’t managed to finish better than 20th in any Masters since, he has even missed two cuts. But he has worked on his game so much that he is inching his way back towards the top.

He has been absolutely on fire since about halfway through last season. He finished in the top 10 in both the British Open and the PGA Championship and nearly won the FedEx Cup Championship after winning the penultimate tournament of the season the BMW Championship. He ended up finishing 5th but has not slowed down since. In the three events he has played in since the turn of the calendar, he has finished 1st, T-8, and T-3. He is ready to get things rolling in his favor again and seeks another major championship victory and might just be able to grab one this year.

6. Rory McIlroy

Did Rory’s head get too big? What the hell happened to him last year? He was flat out awful. Just an example of how bad, his 2012 Wikipedia listing has 37 lines in it. His 2013 listing has… 5. More like four and a half and one is a headline, but whatever he sucked last year. If he can get his head screwed on right and maybe get off to a good start to boost his confidence he should be prime for a comeback. He is only 24 years old after all. But for whatever reason, call it a hunch, I’m not all that confident he will be back to form this year.

5. Adam Scott

Scott really overcame some of his demons in 2013. After choking away the 2012 British Open he won the Masters in a thrilling showdown with Angel Cabrera. The important thing to look at with Scott is his performance in the majors. He has established himself as one of the best golfers in the world. One that is capable of winning on any given weekend. Therefore we turn to his major championship resume and it is rather stellar the past few years. Since the beginning of the 2011 season Scott has finished inside the top 10 in seven out of twelve tournaments. He has finished inside the top 15 in ten out of twelve. If you take the US Open out altogether, he has finished inside the top 10 in all but the 2011 British Open (25th) and the 2012 PGA Championship (11th). Last year he finished inside the top 5 in all but the US Open. While he has only won one, he has shown the ability to be consistently exceptional in every tournament but the US Open. He is just 33 years old and has two full seasons remaining before the anchoring ban on big putters goes into effect. His window is now, and he is playing as well as anyone in the big events. I don’t think it would shock anyone to see him win one or even two of them this year.

4. Henrik Stenson

What a hell of a season this guy had last year. He really came on strong in the second half of the year, but aside from winning the FedEx Cup Championship he finished as the runner up in the British Open and 3rd in the PGA Championship. But then in November he did something that nobody else has done, by not only winning the year end points crown in the PGA but he also won the seasonal points crown on the European Tour as well. That is pretty damn good especially for a 37 year old. While his age may make that look like a bit of a fluke this year, there is no reason to doubt him, unless you want to look foolish like most people that followed golf did last year.

3. Phil Mickelson

Lefty has been having some issues with his back so hopefully he will be able to work it out in time for this weekend, but as far as looking forward you know what you are getting out of Phil. He is a threat to win any tournament if he can get hot with the putter. While anyone on tour is capable of getting hot, Phil is one of two guys that have shown that they actually have that extra gear and can pull it out almost at will. Sort of like the Celtics the past few years, which I’m still very very sad about by the way, no matter how terrible they looked against the Bobcats the night before if Miami was in town they were going to be a different team. Phil has the ability to rise up in the big tournaments and this year he is looking to complete the career grand slam with a US Open victory. Which by the way I don’t know if you remember but he should have won last years US Open and we should be talking about Phil winning two out of the four majors in 2013. If Tiger were coming off of that kind of a 2013 we would never hear the end of it. Phil is once again flying well under the radar, which I think is right where he wants to be. He should add to his trophy case again this year and it might be in the form of another major championship or two and maybe a FedEx Cup Championship.

2. Tiger Woods

Tiger is what he is at this point. However I’m starting to think that “, old” should follow that sentence. Something tells me he is not going to handle life after competitive golf very well. Regardless, I love watching Tiger and I root for him to win, so I hope he can come back and win a major, but his game is too streaky and not nearly as dominant to be certain. If he get start rolling in some putts and getting off the tee with some consistency in the weeks leading up to a major it is certainly possible that he could absolutely win at least one of them.

1. Jordan Spieth

People tend to use the phrase “the sky is the limit” a bit liberally but as far as this kid goes it’s dead on. Forget Rory and forget a possible late resurgence from Tiger, this kid might just be the next to take the golf world by storm.

This 20 year old kid is the reigning rookie of the year and he didn’t even start last season with a Tour card. In the 2013 rendition of this past weekends tournament at Torrey Pines, Spieth missed the cut to really fuel the fire in his belly. However it took until one Sunday in July, where he holed out on the 72nd hole to make a three man playoff before besting the likes of Zach Johnson and David Hearns to really get the boost he was looking for in the form of his first career win. That win gave him full time status and put him into the season’s final two majors after not being invited to the Masters or US Open. Five weeks later he lost in a playoff just missing out on his second career win. From there he really caught fire. He shot a 62 in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship to finish T-4 which not only bumped him up to 28th in the world but caught the eye of the United States’ Presidents Cup Captain, Fred Couples, who two days later selected Spieth to the squad.

He ended the 2013 season ranked 10th on the money list and 22nd in the world after beginning the year 810th with no card. Now he kicks off this year bouncing back in a tournament he failed to make the cut in the year before. Again, this kid is only 20 years old. He can flat out smash the ball off the tee. Also he had more putts made from 25’+ than anyone last year, oh and being a rookie that means that was the first time he was really seeing those greens. Once he tunes in his irons game a little and really learns the intricacies of the courses on the schedule, this kid might just become nearly unbeatable.



Monday, January 27, 2014

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