Ranking the 10 Most Memorable Stories from the 2013 PGA Tour Season
It's only September, but the PGA Tour just completed the 2013 season. The Presidents Cup is now looming, and the 2014 PGA Tour season will start in two weeks.
Rules violations, rookies, Rory, Phil and Tiger once again dominated headlines in the golf world. Henrik Stenson also sprinted to the finish and pocketed over $15 million in just eight weeks.
Here is a ranking of the top headlines from the 2013 PGA Tour season.
10. No Q-School in 2013
This is the first season since 1965 that Q-School was not held to gain a PGA Tour card for next season.
In March of 2012, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announced that a new system of qualification to gain PGA Tour status would be effective beginning this year. The path to the bright lights and big purses of the PGA Tour now must go through Web.com Tour.
The Web.com Tour awards 25 PGA Tour cards to its top-25 money winners at the end of the regular season.
The Web.com Tour Finals is a four-tournament series that offers another 25 PGA Tour cards to the top money earners over those four events.
Golf purists rue the lack of a Q-School, but the Web.com Tour Finals offer 288 holes of tournament competition over four golf courses, rather than 108 holes of gut-wrenching fear and heartache.
9. Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner Win Majors.
One of the lists on the PGA Tour that no player wants to be a member of is the "Best Player To Have Never Won a Major." Three players permanently removed their names from that dubious honor roll his year.
Adam Scott won the Masters in April in a thrilling finish over Angel Cabrera, and Scott also met Cabrera's challenge down the stretch in a playoff to don the Green Jacket. Justin Rose hit one of the best shots of his career on the 72nd hole at Merion and became the U.S. Open champion.
Jason Dufner blew a five-shot lead in the 2011 PGA Championship and eventually lost to Keegan Bradley. The 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill had a completely different ending, though, as Dufner erased memories of past failure. He started the final round one shot behind Jim Furyk, but was a ball-striking machine, as he posted a two-under-par 68 and won by two shots.
Scott, Rose and Dufner have been three of the best players in the world, and 2013 saw them reach the summit of their golfing careers by winning major titles.
8. Wrap Around Schedule Begins in 2013
The 2014 PGA Tour season will actually start in 2013, as the Tour Championship in the FedEx Cup playoffs signals the official end of the PGA Tour season.
The old Fall Series has gained legitimacy and now heralds the start of next season.
Six tournaments—the Frys.com, the Shriners Hospitals for Children, the CIMB Classic, the WGC-HSBC Championship, the McGladrey Classic and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba—now offer FedEx Cup points and official PGA Tour money for the 2014 season. PGA Tour professionals will be forced to travel outside the friendly confines of the United States to Malaysia, China and Mexico to compete in these events.
The new scheduling offers more opportunity for players to earn FedEx Cup points and for the PGA Tour to spread its brand around the world. They will also help assuage sponsors' complaints that their events were not able to offer FedEx Cup points in past years.
After all, the most important factor on the PGA Tour is keeping tournament sponsors with their big corporate dollars happy.
7. Semi-Retired Steve Stricker Finishes No. 3 in FedEx Cup Playoffs
Semi-retirement did not hurt Steve Stricker's golf game this year.
In just 10 regular season events, he won nearly $2.5 million and finished No. 20 in the FedEx Cup standings. He even skipped The Barclays, the first event in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Stricker then finished runner-up at the Deutsche Bank, tied for fourth at the BMW Championship and tied for runner-up in the Tour Championship.
He was the most consistent of any player and finished third in the playoffs with over $1.9 million in earnings.
Imagine what he would have done if he had played full-time this season.
6. Rory McIlroy Struggled All Season.
Rory McIlroy started the year as the toast of the golf world.
He won his second major championship in 2012 plus two FedEx Cup playoff events. He was also the No. 1-ranked player in the world and signed a mega-contract with Nike.
However, missing the cut in his first event of the year in Abu Dhabi was a harbinger for the rest of 2013.
His best finish—and only top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this year—was as runner-up in the Valero Texas Open. McIlroy was never a factor in the majors, however, as his best finish was a T-8 in the PGA Championship.
He has fallen to No. 6 in the world and did not even qualify for the Tour Championship.
He is still a high-profile player, though, and is always one of the best stories in all of golf.
5. Phil Mickelson Won the Open Championship.
Phil Mickelson is always one of the biggest stories in golf, and 2013 was no different.
He won early in the year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and then made headlines with his off-the-cuff California tax comments. He made more headlines when he once again came up short in a U.S. Open, finishing runner-up for the sixth time. However, he did collect his first-ever win in Europe at the Aberdeen Scottish Open the week prior to the Open Championship.
Golf fans were also glued to their television screens when he put together one of the all-time best rounds in golf on Sunday in the Open Championship. Mickelson has won 42 PGA Tour titles and over $73 million over the years, but his final round at Muirfield had to be one of the most satisfying moments in his illustrious career.
Phil Mickelson is the ultimate entertainer. He is fun to watch and even more fun to write about.
4. Henrik Stenson Blitzes the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Not too many golf media types were talking about Henrik Stenson at the beginning of the year, but he was filling up media copy by the end of it.
Stenson had fallen outside the top-200 in the world in early 2012. He won the South Africa Open on the European Tour in November last year, and that began a run that saw him win two tournaments in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
He began his ascension to No. 4 in the world with runner-up finishes at both the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone. A third-place finish at the PGA Championship preceded wins at both the Deutsche Bank and the Tour Championship.
Stenson won over $6 million plus the $10 million bonus for the FedEx Cup win this year. He also amazed everyone with his dry humor and dazzling ball-striking performances.
Stenson's second rebound from the depths of golf's despair and phenomenal success made him one of the top stories of the year.
3. Rules Violations Dominated Headlines in 2013
Rules violations dominated the headlines throughout the entire golf season.
It began with a penalty assessed on Tiger Woods in his first start of the season in Abu Dhabi, causing him to miss the cut.
Then, Vijay Singh was suspended for using a banned substance—before the suspension was eventually dropped by the tour, when deer antler spray was removed from the banned list.
After that, Woods again was assessed a two-shot penalty for an incorrect drop in the Masters after a viewer called in the discretion. Television viewers again became part of the golf action when they alerted rules officials of Woods causing his ball to move at the BMW Championship.
What other sport allows television fans to call in rules violations? With every shot being closely watched by rules officials on site, why can't they get it right?
Tiger Woods is even more closely scrutinized than any other player and seems to be receiving an unequal amount of these penalties.
2. Rookie Jordan Spieth Zooms to the Top
Rookie Jordan Spieth made headlines and accomplished one of the most meteoric rises in PGA Tour history.
Very few players are able to earn their PGA Tour cards without first qualifying via Q-School or the Web.com Tour. However, Spieth started the year right out of the University of Texas with no status on any professional tour, and he ended the year at No. 8 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Along the way, he collected a win at the John Deere Classic and nine top-10 finishes, including three runners-up. He also earned $3.8 million this season and established himself as one of the marquee names in golf.
He is only 20 years old and should be making headlines for many years to come.
1. Tiger Woods Always Dominates Golf Headlines.
Five wins, rules violations, injuries and a high-profile girlfriend kept Tiger Woods at the top of golf headlines once again this year.
He rebounded from a missed cut in Abu Dhabi with a win at one of his favorite tournaments, the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. More wins followed at the WGC-Cadillac, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players and the WGC-Bridgestone.
Although he failed to win a major title again this year, he did end the regular season ranked No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings and rose to the top spot on the Official World Golf Rankings.
Woods had three unpleasant rules violation incidents that were highly publicized in Abu Dhabi, the Masters and the BMW Championship, though.
He also sustained an elbow injury at the U.S. Open that garnered headlines. Then, a back spasm brought him to his knees and nearly out of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Being in front of cameras with his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn and his children while making appearances at golf tournaments also keeps Woods in the media spotlight.
Tiger Woods has moved golf to the forefront of sports media, and he will continue to be the biggest story in golf in the future.