Tom Watson lost the 2009 British Open, some described the interview room as funeral-like, and that was because the best story of the entire decade would have been that Watson win at 59. With the start of 2014, we know that predicting golf is almost impossible, so we decided to go a different way. These are 10 things we hope happen in 2014.
Tiger Woods win the Masters -- It's the biggest golf tournament of the year and he's the biggest name in the sport. Add his drought at the majors and his run at the Jack Nicklaus major record and this one is a lay-up. The main question here is the same as it has been since '05; can Tiger win on the new Augusta National? If his game is clicking, like it did at the Players Championship in 2013, it doesn't matter what course he is playing, but if he brings his A-minus game (or below), it might be tough for him to win on a golf course they have continued to change over the years since Woods ran away with the green jacket in 1997.
Phil Mickelson wins the U.S. Open -- Okay fine, this is the one that golf fans want the most. Sure, Tiger winning would be a bigger story simply because he's such a huge sports star, but in the terms of the perfect storm in the golf world, Phil winning at Pinehurst #2 would be incredible. If Phil wins this year it would be on a course that saw one of his first epic defeats in a major to Payne Stewart back in 1999, and it's the one major championship that continues to elude Mickelson. A win at the U.S. Open wouldn't just be a sixth major win for Phil, but it would complete his career Grand Slam a year after his epic British Open win thanks to a Sunday 66 at Muirfield.
Basically if these two things happen to start off the major championship season we can just slam the book on the rest of the majors and still have one of the best years ever for the big four.
The United States wins the Ryder Cup -- Before the Presidents Cup kicked off, I wrote something about how important it was for the International team to win because if the Americans won again the event was in danger of becoming obsolete. Of course, the United States added a fifth straight Cup to their trophy case, and if the Europeans snag another Ryder Cup in 2014 it would be a sixth Cup win for them in the last seven Ryder Cups.
This isn't just an American hoping that the U.S. wins, but a golf fan wanting to see this event become even more competitive.
Ryo Ishikawa wins on the PGA Tour -- There are few global stars more important to the game than 22-year-old Ryo Ishikawa. The Japanese star burst on the scene in 2008 when he became the youngest player ever to break into the top-100 in the Official World Golf Rankings, and while he was winning on the Japan Tour, he struggled to bring that play to the United States.
That changed at the end of 2013, when Ishikawa finished T-2 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and followed it up with a T-5 at the World Cup of Golf in Australia.
Ishikawa became one of those young stars with tons of expectations, and while some have lived up to the hype (Rory McIlroy is a great example), we've seen plenty of names like Ty Tryon and Michelle Wie who never quite became what we thought they would.
If Ishikawa can win on the PGA Tour in 2014, it would be huge for the game of golf in Asia and would help justify why we all got so excited when he first started to play in the United States as a teenager.
Bubba Watson bounces back from a tough 2013 -- Before the Travelers Championship in 2010, Bubba Watson was a guy known for his crazy golf swing and his long drives and his country attitude. He had never won the PGA Tour but he was considered one of the most talented guys on tour simply because he can do things to a golf ball that even the most talented professional golfers are impressed with.
But at the Travelers he picked up his first PGA Tour win and followed it up with two victories in 2011. Bubba was becoming a star in golf, and it all came together at the Masters in 2012. His playoff win, thanks to that wedge shot that most of us will never forget, shot Watson to the top of a lot of lists as the most beloved guy on tour, and his media tour after only helped his popularity.
The problem is, Watson has yet to win since he put on that green jacket, carding just three top-10s in 2013 and struggling at the majors.
The hope is that it was just a hangover year for Bubba and he's ready to get back to winning with all that talent he has in that loopy golf swing. Look for Bubba to get a fifth win in 2014, but our hope is he gets one or two more than that.
Rory McIlroy goes back to being Rory McIlroy -- We all have bad days, when we wake up grumpy and the coffee or the cereal or even the smile from your significant other can't really break your bad mood.
In the case of Rory McIlroy, that was his entire 2013. He got frustrated on the golf course, hung his head when things were bad and struggled to get any momentum going after winning the PGA Championship by eight shots a season before.
His recent engagement announcement means that Rory and Caroline Wozniacki are taking things to the next level, and that might just be the recipe for a great 2014 for the two-time major winner.
As we've said before, Rory is never going to be Tiger Woods, but if he can just be Phil Mickelson and win a major every couple of years I think we will all be completely fine with that. If not a win at one of the big four events in 2014 we just hope he's in the conversation come Sunday in a couple of them.
Jason Day wins twice on tour -- I've said it a lot over the past few months, but if I asked you to give me 10 guys you think are the most talented in the world, Jason Day would be on a lot of lists. The problem is, the 26-year-old Australian has just one PGA Tour win over his entire career, staggering when you consider how many major championships he's been involved in.
Considering how much talent Day has, and how much fun it is to watch him when he's in the hunt, I think a win or two in 2014 would really be great for his career moving forward, reminding him that he has the ability to not only win on this tour, but win in bunches.
Jordan Spieth and Lydia Ko avoid letdown seasons -- I think these two are pretty comparable, even if Ko just turned pro and Spieth already had a successful season as a professional, but both are heading into 2014 knowing that a letdown season can't be in the cards (especially after Ko changed instructors).
A good season for Ko would be a major win, while Spieth just needs to add another PGA Tour win to make '14 a success. Both youngsters seem like nice kids, and I think both get fans more interested in the game.
Dustin Johnson wins a major -- Of all the guys without majors, Johnson seems like the most obvious candidate to actually snag one this season. He's got the complete game, seems happy in his life off the golf course, and has been there a few times already in his young career.
Johnson winning a major would elevate his brand to a new level, and he is one of the few guys on tour that has that big sports star potential that makes him more than just a golfer.
Sergio Garcia wins the British Open -- Oh come on, how fun would that be?!
Okay, now give us your thoughts on what you hope happens in golf in the coming year.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods
- Tom Watson
- PGA Tour
- Ryo Ishikawa
- Bubba Watson
- Rory McIlroy