Golf's Top 10 Storylines Heading into 2014

Fred AltvaterContributor IIDecember 16, 2013

Golf's Top 10 Storylines Heading into 2014

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    Tiger Woods won the 2103 Players and 4 other titles last year.
    Tiger Woods won the 2103 Players and 4 other titles last year.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Tiger Woods won five tournaments in 2013 including the Players Championship. 

    Although he did not win a major, he reclaimed the No. 1 spot on the Official World Golf Rankings and was voted the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

    Some other top stories in golf last year were:

        -Henrik Stenson won the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup.

        -Inbee Park won three consecutive majors on the LPGA Tour.

        -Rory McIlroy did not win on either the European or PGA Tours

        -Jordan Spieth had a phenomenal rookie season.

    Who will captivate golf fans and make headlines next year?

    Here is a listing of the Top 10 storylines heading into 2014. 

10. Will Peter Uihlein Play His Way onto the PGA Tour?

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    Peter Uihlein finished runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
    Peter Uihlein finished runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill Links ChampionshipAndrew Redington/Getty Images

    Will Peter Uihlein continue his rise up the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) in 2014 and earn a spot on the PGA Tour?

    Uihlein was named the European Tour's Rookie of the Year and is one of the rising young stars in golf.

    He won the Madeira Islands Open and earned full membership to the European Tour last year.

    He also finished runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, earned a total of €1.3 million and finished No. 17 in the Race to Dubai.

    He has moved to No. 65 in the world and is attempting to break into the Top 50, which would earn him exemptions into the majors and the World Golf Championship (WGC) events.

    The storyline here is not will he break into the Top 50, but when he will break into the Top 50 in the world and earn PGA Tour membership.

     

     

     

9. Will Lexi Thompson or Lydia Ko Have Better Year in 2014?

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    16-year-old Lydia Ko won the Swinging Skirts Ladies Masters.
    16-year-old Lydia Ko won the Swinging Skirts Ladies Masters.Gareth Gay/Getty Images

    Lexi Thompson won once on both the Ladies European Tour (LET) and the LPGA before she joined the tour as a 17 year old.

    Lydia Ko won four professional tournaments as an amateur and joined the professional ranks last month while still 16 years old.

    Thompson did not win in her rookie season in 2012, but won twice in 2013. 

    Ko won her second event as a professional, the Swinging Skirts Ladies Masters in Taiwan.

    Thompson has the length and charisma to charm fans. Ko has a calm demeanor and killer-like instincts on the golf course.

    Ko is currently ranked No. 4 on the Rolex Rankings behind only Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis.

    A Thompson/Ko rivalry would be a great story to follow for women's golf.

8. What Young Player Will Emerge on the PGA Tour?

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    Chesson Hadley won the Web.com Tour Championship
    Chesson Hadley won the Web.com Tour ChampionshipMichael Cohen/Getty Images

    In 2013, we saw Jordan Spieth win on the PGA Tour and earn full tour membership as a 19-year-old rookie.

    There is another great crop of hungry young professionals looking to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2014.

    Here are three names to watch in 2014.

    Chesson Hadley played well all season on the Web.com Tour and won the Web.com Tour Championship.

    In just four starts in the new PGA Tour wrap-around schedule, he had one top-10 finish and has earned $220,000.

    Hideki Matsuyama will play full time on the PGA Tour in 2014. He is just 21 years old and has already won six events in Japan. 

    Brooks Koepka won three titles on the 2013 Challenge Tour. He led the second and third rounds of the Frys.com, but a final round one-over par dropped him to third place. 

    Fresh young players always make a great story on the PGA Tour.

7. Can Inbee Park Stay Atop the Rolex Rankings?

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    Inbee Park won three consecutive majors int 2013.
    Inbee Park won three consecutive majors int 2013.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Inbee Park won the first three major titles on the LPGA Tour in 2013. Her name is now mentioned with golf's immortals; Jones, Hogan, Zaharias and Woods.

    She ascended to the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings by midseason, but did not play that well after her win at the U.S. Women's Open in June.

    Suzann Pettersen won four times on the LPGA Tour and once on the LET including the Evian Championship. She was second to Park on the LPGA Tour money list with $2.2 million and is gaining on Park's No.1 world ranking.

    Stacy Lewis was No. 1 for a few weeks but got passed by both Park and Pettersen. She had 20 top-10 finishes and won the Ricoh Women's British Open last year.

    At No. 3 in the world, Lewis wants to regain the top spot.

    Add No 4 Lydia Ko, No. 5 So Yeon Ryu and even No. 7 Lexi Thompson to the mix and Park has some very talented women hot on her heels.

    The battle for dominance on the LPGA Tour will be a wonderful story to follow in 2014.

6. What Will Jordan Spieth Do in 2014?

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    Fred Couples picked Jordan Spieth for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.
    Fred Couples picked Jordan Spieth for the U.S. Presidents Cup team.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Jordan Spieth had one of the best rookie seasons ever on the PGA Tour.

    Starting 2013 with no status on any professional tour, he earned full PGA Tour membership with a win at the John Deere Classic.

    He ultimately finished No. 8 in the FedEx Cup rankings, earned over $3.8 million and a spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

    Pretty heady stuff for a 19-year-old. What will he do for an encore?

    Spieth will be eligible for the WGC tournaments plus all of the majors for the first time next year.

    Could we see Adam Scott sliding a Green Jacket on young Mr. Spieth in April?

    That would be a huge story.

     

5. Will Adam Scott or Justin Rose Win a Second Major?

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    Adam Scott won the 2013 Masters and Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open.
    Adam Scott won the 2013 Masters and Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open.Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Adam Scott and Justin Rose both won major championships last year. 

    Both have been steadily rising to the top of the golf world for several years.

    Both have had to rebuild their golf games and their confidence after going through difficult slumps.

    Scott has one of the purest swings in golf. Rose is one of the most technically sound golfers in the world.

    Both are playing with extreme confidence and should contend in every big golf tournament for the next few years.

    Will one of both get their second major title in 2014?

4. Can Phil Mickelson Finally Win a U.S. Open?

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    Phil Mickelson won the Claret Jug in July, but was runner-up again at the U.S. Open in June.
    Phil Mickelson won the Claret Jug in July, but was runner-up again at the U.S. Open in June.Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    With his win at the Open Championship, Phil Mickelson added a fifth major and the third leg of a career grand slam to his resume last year.

    He had a great year with wins at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February and the Scottish Open in July.

    Mickelson is 43 years old and has finished runner-up in the U.S. Open a record six times. He finished runner-up to Justin Rose in the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.

    The 2014 U.S. Open will be played on historic Pinehurst No. 2 where Mickelson collected one of his U.S. Open runners-up to Payne Stewart in 1999.

    One of the biggest stories of 2014 will be Mickelson's attempt to finally win a U.S. Open and complete his career grand slam.

3. How Will Henrik Stenson Follow Up Last Year?

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    Henrik Stenson won the 2013 Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
    Henrik Stenson won the 2013 Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Henrik Stenson had his best season thus far and one of the best seasons ever witnessed in golf.

    Tiger Woods unofficially won the money titles on both the PGA and European Tours in the past. Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy won both money titles in 2011 and 2012.

    Stenson is the first to win the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same season.

    It's all about getting hot at the right time, and Stenson was definitely the hottest golfer in the world from July through November.

    He won twice, finished runner-up twice and had a third place finish in his last seven starts of the year on the PGA Tour. 

    He added a T-7 at the Turkish Airlines Open and a win in the DP Dubai World Championship in November to capture the Race to Dubai.

    He finished the year ranked No. 3 in the world behind Tiger Woods and Adam Scott.

    Can he continue his hot streak, win majors and contend for the No. 1 spot on the OWGR next year?

     

2. Can Rory McIlroy Rebound from a Poor 2013?

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    Rory McIlroy did not have much to cheer about in 2013.
    Rory McIlroy did not have much to cheer about in 2013.Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

    Missed cuts, withdrawals and poor play marred Rory McIlroy's season.

    After the big announcement by Nike at he beginning of the year, McIlroy missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and had a sub-standard year.

    He was No. 1 in the world in January and fell to No. 6 by December. He beat Tiger Woods in an exhibition match in China and his lone win did not come until he bested Adam Scott in the Australian Open in December.

    Management changes, swing changes, equipment changes and lawsuits all seemed to adversely affect McIlroy's play last year.

    Can McIlroy rebound and return to dominating the PGA Tour in 2014?

1. Will Tiger Woods Win No. 15 Next Year?

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    Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate to win the 2008 U.S. Open.
    Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate to win the 2008 U.S. Open.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Tiger Woods won his 14th major championship at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, in a playoff over Rocco Mediate, on a broken leg.

    Although he won five tournaments, the money title and PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2013, he failed to win a major title.

    Woods is always the biggest story in golf, and his quest to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 career major titles overshadows everything else.

    Augusta, Pinehurst, Royal Liverpool and Valhalla will be the sites of the 2014 major championships.

    Can Woods take the confidence gained from his five wins this year and get back to winning majors?