Time to make some golf picks for 2014

  • ESPN.com | December 19, 2013

Just because making predictions in golf has roughly the same odds as winning Powerball doesn't mean we'll stop trying.

So what might the new year bring in the lands of the links? And which player is most poised for rebound in 2014?

Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.

1. Give us some wildly outlandish predictions for the 2013-14 season.


Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: In 2014, Sergio Garcia will finish second in two majors, one of them being the U.S. Open, in which Phil Mickelson will miss the cut. Tiger wins the Masters and there will be nine first-time winners. A rookie will win the PGA Championship and the FedEx Cup (but different rookies.)

Sergio Garcia
Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour/Asian Tour via Getty ImagesIf Sergio Garcia can stay happy on the golf course, like when he had his girlfriend as his caddie in Thailand, there's no telling what the Spaniard might accomplish in 2014.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Miguel Angel Jimenez, who will turn 50 in January, will win the Masters in April. Jimenez will beat 20-year-old Jordan Spieth down the stretch for his first major championship.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Martin Kaymer will have a resurgence. Except for making the winning putt at the 2012 Ryder Cup, the German has been mostly quiet since his 2010 major title at Whistling Straits.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Hideki Matsuyama becomes the first Japanese player to win a major championship. Crazy, right? Well, in his last three majors, the 21-year-old has gone T-10, T-6 and T-19, so etching his name in the history books might not be all that shocking. To do it at the Masters, the year after Adam Scott became the first Australian to don the green jacket, would be the icing on the cake.

2. Which tournament are you most looking forward to this season (both the major and non-major variety?)


Collins: Like Highlander, "There can be only one." If you're not looking forward to the Masters hoping that Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson are firing on all cylinders, you might as well just find another sport. As great as it will be to see guys at Torrey Pines and Bay Hill, it's all an appetizer to the main course that is Augusta.

Evans: I'm always excited about the Masters. It's the most exciting tournament in the world. Those grounds evoke the history of the game -- from Augusta National's homage to the Old Course to Bobby Jones to Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods' historic win in 1997 -- in a way that no other event can capture, not even the Open Championship with its ancient bearings.

Then there is the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, where the Stadium Course is best known for the island green at the 17th hole. It's one of the biggest events in the world, and the best players always put it on their schedule.

Harig: Farmers Insurance Open for a regular tour event. Let's face it, that's the first time we'll get to see Tiger Woods in 2014. And that will also be Phil Mickelson's domestic debut.

As for a major, the next one is always the one I look forward to most. So that would be the Masters. The anticipation for that tournament is always the greatest anyway, given the long time between majors. But given the way 2013 ended, the Masters sets up to be very intriguing.

Maguire: In the major category, it always has to be the Masters (although I'd put the Ryder Cup a very close second.) The first major of the year just does it right, and if you ever get the chance just to be near Augusta, Ga., for Masters week, jump at the chance.

As for the non-major category, I'm going with the BMW Championship, mainly based on its venue -- Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado. Golf fans will get a glimpse into one of the game's best courses west of the Mississippi, and PGA Tour players will be battling to reach the Tour Championship the following week. Talk about a recipe for success.

3. Which player is poised to make a solid rebound in 2014?


Collins: Stewart Cink. At the end of 2012, he was ranked 319th. The golf gods decided that was punishment enough for beating Tom Watson at the Open Championship in 2009. A solid 2013 has him poised to make 2014 the year in which he hoists a trophy and completes the journey back into the good graces of the golf gods.

Evans: Rory McIlroy will, in the coming year, find some of the magic that put him on top of the golf world in 2012. He had some growing pains in 2013 that have hardened his resolve to prove he has the mettle to overcome pressure and personal setbacks.

Harig: Luke Donald. It's hard to believe the Englishman fell as far as he did in 2013, especially given that just two years prior he won the money titles on both the PGA and European tours. Donald began working with new instructor, Chuck Cook, late in the year and found results when he defended a Japan Tour title. Look for a strong year from Donald.

Maguire: Louis Oosthuizen. If the South African major winner can get healthy, there's no reason he won't contend for another major title. There's a reason many in the game rate Oosty's swing as one of the sweetest on the planet, and once he's able to show what it can do, watch out.

4. Fact or fiction: Phil Mickelson completes the career Grand Slam at the 2014 U.S. Open.


Collins: Fact. Yes, I know it contradicts answer No. 1, but I was asked to make some "wild, outlandish predictions." Although it could be said that making this pick also qualifies.

Evans: Fiction. It means too much to him now. His victory in the U.S. Open is going to come in the twilight of his career in three or four more years when he thinks it's too late for him to win.

Harig: Fiction. As great a story this would be -- and as much as you figure Lefty will put everything into pulling the feat off -- to actually accomplish the goal is another matter. You almost wonder whether Mickelson will be putting too much pressure on himself.

So much has to go right, and there are the other players to contend with as well. This will be a great story going into the U.S. Open, but if you go with your head and not your heart it is much easier to see this being difficult.

Maguire: Fact, but only if Mickelson gets out of his own way in trying to win at Pinehurst. He's talking about cutting back his schedule to help improve his U.S. Open chances, but with a record six second-place finishes in the year's second major, should he really adjust anything?

I'd say tweak away if he never won a major and was trying to figure out how to break through, but that's clearly not the case with this five-time major champ. Let it come to you, Phil. As we often see in golf and life, the harder we chase after something, the faster it slips through our fingers.

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