Preview the Majors in 2014 . . . Will Tiger get #15? PDF Print E-mail



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.



Pre-Season Picks:

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











Kuchar & English Win Franklin Templeton Shootout PDF Print E-mail



Naples, Florida - At Tiburon Golf Club, Matt Kuchar and Harris English blitzed the field

at Greg Norman's annual end of the year event - The Franklin Templeton Shootout.

Shooting a tournament record 34 under par, the duo posted a 58 on Sunday in the

events scramble round. Their dominance was exempt from format, posting 64 in the

modified alternate shot Friday, and 60 in Saturday's better ball.


"It was a fun week," Kuchar said. "This is one of my favorite events of the year. I

wish we could more team events. I realize during the year, that's difficult but to mix

up the formats and have a partner here is just a lot of fun. It's nice to perform well."

English, who replaced the injured Brandt Snedeker in the field was elated. "It's such

a relaxing event," Harris said. "It's really cool being part of this event."


Goosen and Freddy jacobson closed with weekend 61's to finish second seven shots

back at 27 under. The English Ryder Cup duo of Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood

finished third at -26.






Zach Johnson Steals World Challenge From Tiger PDF Print E-mail


Zach Johnson finally celebrates a victory at Sherwood Country Club



Thousand Oaks, California - Trailing by four with eight holes to play, it looked like

Zach Johnson would once again finish a runner up to the event host and world #1.


In it's 14th and final time hosting the NorthWestern Mutual World Challenge (the

event moves to Tiger Woods' old stomping grounds - Isleworth Country Club in

Orlando next year), Sherwood Country Club provided another drama filled final



After a birdie on the 17th by Johnson tied it up at 13 under par, the stage

was set on the 72nd hole. From the left rough, Tiger hit a mediocre approach that

landed just short and rolled back into the front right greenside bunker. With the door

open, Johnson hit his worst shot of the week, an 8 iron that had no chance of

clearing the water fronting the green. From the drop zone - Johnson faced a shot

of 58 yards, if he could get up and down for 5 he might still have a chance if Tiger

failed to convert his bunker save. Johnson nipped it perfectly, the ball bounced three

times and just as it passed the flag . . . it spun back and into the cup for a

miraculous par. As the crowd went berserk, Tiger settled himself and shrugged off

Zach's heroics splashing from the sand to 2 feet - finishing with a final round 70

(-13 total). The two were heading to a playoff.


In the playoff, Tiger was in the fairway this time on the 18th, but was between clubs

. . . he decided on an easy 7 iron, and once again found the front right bunker. Zach

Johnson reached the green in regulation and would face a downhill winding putt of 15

feet for his birdie. Tiger exploded his sand shot to just inside 5 feet (slightly above

the hole). Johnson's birdie attempt rolled over Tiger's mark and bobbled to tap in

range. Johnson was in with 4. Tiger's attempt to extend the match failed when his

putt lipped out on the left side. A shocking finish considering Woods held the 36 & 54

hole lead and had what seemed like commanding advantage well into the back nine.


Afterward, Woods quickly shifted to host mode (containing his disappointment) when

commenting on his gritty competitor, "Pretty impressive what he did, he got me."


For Zach Johnson, his Sunday 68 and dramatic triumph have catapulted him into the

top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in his career (#9), and after so many

close calls at Sherwood he seemed relieved as much as elated. "I feel very

fortunate, and a bit lucky," said Johnson. "A little too dramatic for me".






McIlroy Stuns Adam Scott At Australian Open PDF Print E-mail



Rory McIlroy gets his first win of 2013 at Royal Sydney



Sydney, Australia - Adam Scott was at the end of a month long victory tour and celebration down

under, and after winning both the Australian Masters & PGA, he was on track for the "Aussie Triple"

at the Emirates Australian Open, leading by four entering the final round, victory seemed to be a mere

formality for world #2, but Rory McIlroy who was paired with the Masters Champion for both weekend

rounds, had plans of his own.

McIlroy's front nine 32, which included a birdie on the 5th, an eagle at the par 5 seventh, and another

birdie on the eighth pulled the Ulsterman within one of the hometown hero. After both players matched

each other on holes 10 thru 16 (Adam Scott's birdie putt on the 16th lipped out), Scott still held a one

shot lead.

On the par 3 seventeenth, Scott hit it just inside 10 feet, McIlroy missed the green slightly left and had

a long lag putt from the fringe to salvage his par. He left his first putt 10 feet short, and grinded out the

saving putt to secure his 3. Adam Scott just missed his birdie on the low side . . . taking his narrow one

shot lead to the last. On 18, both players hit the fairway with irons, Scott's approach landed on the

back portion of the green and rolled off down a swale, leaving a brutal up and down attempt.

McIlroy hit his approach to 15 feet, setting up a putt to tie or win. Adam Scott's pitch from behind the

green carried too far leaving 50 feet for his par . . . he then lagged to a foot and tapped in for bogey.

McIlroy needed just two putts to take Scott to a playoff, and one for the win. He calmly stepped up and

poured in the putt for his first world wide victory of 2013, and in the process shocking the hometown

crowd. Adam Scott's closing 71 was good enough for a 17 under par total, a disappointing finish at the

end of an amazing run. For McIlroy, his final round 66 (-18 total) signals a return to winning ways and a

renewed confidence leading into the 2014 season.

"I knew his chip was tricky,'' said McIlroy. "I thought worst case scenario I'd have a putt for a playoff

and all of a sudden I have a putt for the win, and I didn't want to go extra holes. All I focused on was

my routine. I didn't think about whether it was a putt to win or to get the first win this year. I hit it inside

right and I hit it like I'd hit a putt on the putting green any other day. Thankfully it went in." McIlroy

continued, "Since the end of September I just felt in a better place,'' he said. "A better place mentally

with some things off the course, I definitely felt better with how my swing was, I just felt everything was

coming together the way I wanted it to. It's been a frustrating year but I've worked hard. It's been a

process, trying to get back to winning golf tournaments again. It was nice to be able to do it today.''

2006 Champion, John Senden was third at -11


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