If you live in the 80 percent of the country that is being slammed by arctic wind, ice and snow, golf is probably the last thing you’re thinking about. For the other 20 percent that are able to hit the links for 18 holes, you’re probably well aware that The Masters, a.k.a. the unofficial start to the golf season, will be here before we know it.
Golf’s 2013-2014 season is already in session, so die-hard fans are just waiting for us all to catch up. As we look forward to warmer weather and the meat and potatoes of the PGA Tour, here are a few storylines to watch out for as we start the 2014 Honda Classic.
Bubba Watson has won already, taking the Northern Trust Open. Can he win again and start to become a regular multi-event winner each year on tour? Jason Day won the Accenture Match Play Championship last weekend in a wild and entertaining playoff. Will either of them enter the winner’s circle again in the near future?
Phil Mickelson is on the cusp of making history, and the fact that he hasn’t yet must be taunting the heck out of him. Mickelson is one U.S. Open championship away from completing a career Grand Slam. The weird thing about it is, Mickelson has been in serious contention in so many different U.S. Open tournaments.
In fact, Mickelson was runner-up a mind-boggling six times. It looks as if fate will not let him win this tournament. So, if he manages to this year, it will be huge for two reasons. First, he will nab that career Grand Slam. Secondly, he will finally get the U.S. Open monkey off of his back. At this point, you have to be pulling for the guy.
The other big name that no one can ignore every single season is Tiger Woods. We saw Woods return to form last year by winning five tournament titles. So many people discount the frequency at which Woods wins. When he goes a season without winning, or even if he wins once or twice, many brand him a failure. That’s some pretty lofty expectations to stand up against every single year.
The big question is whether or not Woods will be able to win his 15th major title. His dry spell stems back to 2009. The only head scratcher is that he not only won 14 majors, but he did so with sheer dominance at times. Pundits will keep railing on Woods until he indeed wins a big one again.
Rory McIlroy would have probably killed to be in Tiger’s shoes last year. McIlroy had a very strong 2012 season that branded him a breakout player, but then he fell incredibly flat last season. This is a guy that has legitimate potential and it did not show last year. Did his club change really hinder him that much last year? This year could be different. Expect McIlroy to be in the mix for sure, and even make some noise at maybe a couple majors.
As we check off the days until The Masters, you have to be thinking about Adam Scott, who won the tournament last year. This was a surprise to some while others have rushed to label him a one-hit wonder. That could be true, but if Scott manages to stay competitive on the big stages this year, he is going to win over some respect from those that have not yet offered it. Scott has already won the PGA Grand Slam of Golf so let’s see what happens in the coming months.
Need some other golfers to watch? We already do have one multiple-event winner, Zach Johnson. Johnson is maybe one of the hottest golfers right now, so we’ll have to see if he carries that fire into the upcoming spring and summer season. Right out of the box Johnson won 2 out of the season’s first 10 events winning the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. If Zach Johnson wins again or more than once in March and April he’ll have an absolute monster year, which he certainly is capable of. Jordan Spieth had a breakout year last season too, but is yet to win so far. If he gets going he is capable of being a winner more than once very quickly.
That’s what makes the game of golf so great. While these golfers certainly will make waves, you never know who the new up-and-comer will be. Jimmy Walker has won 3 times already! Kevin Stadler can win again. Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson will be there… Let the fun begin!