By Jason Bruno
Will he return to dominance in 2014?
2013 was an incredible year in professional golf, especially on the PGA Tour. The early story was Rory
McIlroy's defection from Titleist (after a dominant 2012 campaign) to a decade long deal with Nike for
over $200 million.
The other main story was (and still is) Tiger's ongoing drought in the major championships. Woods
has 0 major victories since his dramatic broken leg triumph over Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in 2008
(although TW did win 5 times in 2013). Will Rory bounce back, will Tiger get major #15 in 2014 and will
Phil finally capture the U.S Open after six runner ups? Once again, these are the lead topics on tour this
season. There are two particular players who look to be hitting full stride - just in time to deny the big
three of their quest. Adam Scott and Justin Rose.
Will Rose be content with one major? Not likely.
Tiger and Rory are two of the most talented for sure, but both of them have so many outside
distractions, it only evens the playing field for the leading contenders. Adam Scott and Justin Rose
both have consistent text book golf swings that require far less timing than the swings of Woods &
McIlroy. Add to that, the recent growth in confidence gained by Scott & Rose after their breakthrough
victories at Augusta National and Merion. Both are in the prime years of their playing careers (they turned
33 in July). It's not unlikely to expect both of these players to be a factor in each of the four majors in
Can Scotty do it again?
Other players that flood the list of impressive and trending up are: Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth, Phil
Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Zach Johnson, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia.
The wild card factor in the 2014 major season is the weekend putting of Woods, who hasn't been able
to "will" the ball in the cup in recent majors . . . especially when the Red shirt is donned. From 1997 thru
2008, TW was 61 under par on the weekends of the majors, since then +11. More recently, over the past
six majors Woods is 11 under in rounds 1 & 2 and 23 over par on the weekend. The numbers say putting
is the guilty party, Tiger has taken 28.3 putts per round (340 total) in the first two rounds. In Rounds 3
and 4, he has averaged 30.9 putts per round (371 total) that's a whopping 31 strokes difference . . . will
that trend end? Maybe, but as you near 40 things rarely trend in the up direction.
Let's look at the 2014 major venues.
Masters - Augusta National: Woods, Mickelson, McIlroy, Adam Scott and Jason Day are the five to watch
U.S Open - Pinehurst No.2: Mickelson will be the big story here, and is the obvious sentimental favorite.
Is it possible to want something too much (see Greg Norman-Masters)? Six runner ups and the career
Grand Slam might prove to be too much, but if anybody can defy the odds and pull off the incredible - it
might be Phil. With the removal of the rough throughout, the new No.2 requires a big bat and the short
game of a genius. This could be the epic Woods vs Phil duel we've all waited for.
Open Championship - Royal Liverpool: Tiger pulled off a strategic masterpiece here in 2006, keeping driver
in the bag and plodding around like vintage Nicklaus . . . but the Open Championship is very much a pot
luck event subject to the weather conditions. I'd take the field in this one over the favorites. Justin Rose
is a precision player who could get major #2 here, but it's another Brit that we fancy here in 2014.
PGA Championship - Valhalla: This is the one where I see #15 happening. The site of the 2000 duel with
Bob May is the lead up to the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Talent is talent, the drought will end here at
a Nicklaus design that allows for Tiger to hit the occasional stray ball and recover.
Is this the year he gets #15 ? We like his chances at Valhalla.
Masters: Adam Scott (Defends)
Runner up - Rory McIlroy
U.S Open: Phil Mickelson
Runner up - Tiger Woods
Open Championship: Ian Poulter
Runner Up - Justin Rose
PGA: Tiger Woods
Runner Up - Dustin Johnson
With no break in the playoff schedule in 2014, we like a young gun to capture the Fedex Cup
Champion: Rory McIlroy