When it comes down to the players to watch for on the PGA Tour this season, go with the usual suspects.
And perhaps one or two unusual ones.
As the first full-field tournament is set to begin Thursday in Honolulu, the Sony Open, let’s look at 10 players who will be among the most interesting and compelling to follow this season. These 10 likely will not all finish among the top 10 in points and prize money – most will – but they will gather their own interest as the summer progresses.
Of course, just to spoil it, there is no drama as to who is No. 1. The same guy who’s been No. 1 since the 1990s, Lindsey Vonn’s boyfriend (above).
Here’s quick look at who I think will be guys to watch for various reasons in 2014. They are:
- Tiger Woods: He won five tournaments – three more than anymore, $8 million – $2 million more than anyone, and was Player of the Year. But no major – now not one since 2008. Another wasted season. He’s 37 and . His Bear Pursuit continues. We’ll all be watching.
- Henrik Stenson: Won the year-ender in the U.S. and European Tour. How do you top that? Long hitter, good putter, always in contention.
- Brandt Snedeker: Could have had a spectacular season without being sidelined with a March rib injury. Still won twice, $5.3 million and was third in the FedEx. Loaded up for 2014.
- Adam Scott: A first-time winner (Masters) with expectations to follow up with more success. He’s is in his prime and ever since his Tiger’s old caddy, Steve Williams, has been on his bag Scott has been broken through into the elite class.
- Chris Kirk: Had 11 top 25 finishes in 2013 – and a win already in 2014. He has two wins, two seconds and $6 million in cash, mostly in the past three years on the circuit. He’s coming on.
- Justin Rose: Like Adam Scott, a first-time major winner (U.S. Open). Born just 14 days apart from Scott, Rose has climbed to a new level of recognition and expectations. He’s 33 and in his prime.
- Rory McIIroy: Wherever he plays, he’ll be under scrutiny. Why the decline, Nike or Wozniacki? Can he find his magic again? Also, like Dustin Johnson, has the distraction of a wedding to plan with The Woz.
- Jordan Spieth: May be the best young player to hit the Tour in a decade. Working with sponsor’s exemptions last season, the 20-year-old had a win, three seconds, nine top 10s and won $4 million. A future star.
- Dustin Johnson: Has more raw ability that just about anyone and is beginning to harness his head into a consistent winner. Should be a major winner. Brain likely will be scrambled a bit in late summer as he approaches his marriage to Paulina Gretzky, daughter of the Great One. She is, too.
- Jason Day: The 26-year-old Aussie can pound the ball, 16th in driving last year, with a nice touch around the greens. He’s gaining tournament confidence and coming into his own.
CUSP: Guys who also might leave a mark in 2014 include: Billy Horschel, Nic Colsaerts, Matt Kuchar, Bill Haas, Keegan Bradley, Kevin Streelman, Ryan Moore, Jason Dufner, Harris English, Zach Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood, the best current player never to win a Major.