The Best Shot at a 2014 Major Championship for Golf's Top Stars

Mike DudurichContributor IJanuary 29, 2014

The Best Shot at a 2014 Major Championship for Golf's Top Stars

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    The Masters will be Tiger Woods' best shot at breaking his streak of not winning a major since 2008.
    The Masters will be Tiger Woods' best shot at breaking his streak of not winning a major since 2008.Warren Little/Getty Images

    If you are involved in a fantasy golf league, you know you're limited in the number of times you can pick for your team each week.

    In most leagues, that number is one, forcing you to try to figure out which tournament best suits a certain player.

    That's basically what we're doing here, putting together a list of which players should win at which major in 2014.

    Of course, weather conditions, injuries and current form are just a few of the variables that make such picks dicey. But past performance does help a little in forming an opinion.

    Here's the list of players from the Top 10 Official Golf World Rankings with the best shot to win a major.

Tiger Woods

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    Tiger Woods could definitely find room for a fifth green jacket.
    Tiger Woods could definitely find room for a fifth green jacket.Craig Jones/Getty Images

    If there's one championship and venue Tiger Woods knows better than any other, it's the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club.

    He's won four times there, finished second twice and third once. Even Tiger-proofing the course (making it longer and narrower) hasn't stopped him from being a regular near the top of the leaderboard.

    If that approach shot on the 15th hole hadn't hit the flagstick on Friday afternoon last year, we might well be talking about Woods defending his title in a couple months.

    He's not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, but this will be the one to break that streak.

Adam Scott

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    Adam Scott hit all the shots needed to win his first major.
    Adam Scott hit all the shots needed to win his first major.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The word for years had been that Adam Scott had the purest swing in the game, and it was assumed to be a matter of times until the Australian won his first major.

    Well, he put that swing together with an amazing show of determination and performing under pressure to win that major at the Masters last April.

    Scott is certainly trending in the direction of a guy who might be very successful among those Georgia pines. His last three starts there resulted in a T-2, T-8 and a win.

    Scott's breakthrough victory gives him seven top-25 finishes in 12 starts in the Masters.

Henrik Stenson

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    Nobody hit the ball better at the end of 2013 than Henrik Stenson.
    Nobody hit the ball better at the end of 2013 than Henrik Stenson.Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    When we think about the way Henrik Stenson dominated the PGA Tour coming down the stretch of the 2013 season, the words power and accuracy come immediately to mind.

    Those two attributes won't hurt him at all at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, site of this year's British Open. If his game is under control like it was last year, there's no reason Stenson can't break through in an event where he has done well.

    He has a second, two thirds, three top-fives and three top-10s in golf's oldest championship. Take away last year's tie for 48th and Stenson has finished in the top five in three of this last six starts.

     

     

Phil Mickelson

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    Tiger Woods is Phil Mickelson's only rival in terms of mastering Augusta National.
    Tiger Woods is Phil Mickelson's only rival in terms of mastering Augusta National.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    The attention of the golf world will be focused on Phil Mickelson, his health and his quest to complete the career grand slam in 2014.

    Whether he can make that happen at Pinehurst No. 2 in the U.S. Open is unknown. What is known, however, is Phil knows Augusta and likes it very much.

    Start with the three green jackets, the five third-place finishes and the 10 top-fives.

    In 14 of the 19 times he's played in the Masters, he finished in the top 10, and in 10 of those years, he's finished in the top five.

    Last year's tie for 54th, when Mickelson was fighting his swing, was his worst finish at Augusta. 

Justin Rose

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    After winning the U.S. Open, Justin Rose would be a hero by winning in England.
    After winning the U.S. Open, Justin Rose would be a hero by winning in England.Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Justin Rose was always one of those players in the field at major championships who was there and that's it. Maybe a brief flirtation with the leaderboard, but rarely a serious contender.

    He's made 25 cuts in 39 majors, but finally broke through last year with a strong performance in the final round of the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.

    Rose was the last man standing because he found the fairways and greens more often than anyone else and stood up the pressure better than anyone else.

    While he was something of a surprise winner, his results over the past few years would lead you believe otherwise.

    Since 2007, he’s posted six top-10s in majors: twice in the Masters, twice in the U.S. Open and twice in the PGA Championship.

    Winning a major on his home soil would be a perfect followup to his win at Merion.

Rory McIlroy

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    Winning the Masters would chase away the ghosts of 2011.
    Winning the Masters would chase away the ghosts of 2011.Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Even though golf owes no one, you almost feel like Rory McIlroy deserves a Masters title after nearly getting one in 2011.

    He's won a U.S. Open and a PGA Championship, though I'm not sure how he'll do with the sand, trees and native grasses off the fairways at Pinehurst No. 2.

    But even at his young age of 24, he seems to have established something of a good vibe with the PGA Championship.

    He had a tie for 64th in the PGA in 2011, but McIlroy otherwise has this on his results sheet: T-3 in 2009, T-3 in 2010, win in 2012 and T-8 in 2013.

    He seemed to make strides toward getting the issues with his club and swing worked out last year and, if so, watch out for him in golf's final major of the year.

     

Zach Johnson

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    Zach Johnson has quietly evolved into one of the game's stars.
    Zach Johnson has quietly evolved into one of the game's stars.Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

    Zack Johnson earned a green jacket at the Masters in 2007 but had little success in golf's biggest events before that and did nothing the next year.

    He posted top-10s in the PGA Championship in 2009 and 2010. And he did the same thing the last two years in the British Open.

    But a guy like Johnson would seem to be a perfect fit for a place like Pinehurst. He hits the ball straight and is as good a thinker and strategist as there is in the game today.

    He'll need all of that to figure out the best way to get at upside-down bowl-shaped greens that are the trademark of Pinehurst No. 2.

    He's never finished better than 30th in a U.S. Open, but this will be his year.

Matt Kuchar

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    Matt Kuchar is getting the hang of playing in majors and should star at Pinehurst No. 2.
    Matt Kuchar is getting the hang of playing in majors and should star at Pinehurst No. 2.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Matt Kuchar is one of the players of whom much has been expected for quite a while.

    He came to the PGA Tour with great promise and has grown into a model of consistency, especially in major championships. He's started 33 times in a major and made the cut 18 times. Pretty average stuff there, right?

    Well 14 of those have come in the 16 majors since 2010.

    He's a money-making machine but very much wants that elusive first major.

    Kuchar has just one top-10 in a U.S. Open but has the perfect combination of being a long-ball hitter with a flatter trajectory that should help him get the ball around Pinehurst No. 2.

    It seems to be the perfect fit for Kuchar.

Sergio Garcia

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    Sergio Garcia is still trying to figure out how to win a major.
    Sergio Garcia is still trying to figure out how to win a major.Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    If you're old enough to remember Sergio Garcia's shot from behind a tree at Medinah Country Club that was followed by him scissor-kicking and bounding up the fairway to see the shot, you remember how much hype and promise there was about him.

    Well, with a grand total of 61 majors under his belt, Garcia is still where he was in 1999: winless.

    He has climbed back to No. 9 in the Official World Golf Rankings after a resurgence in his game the last couple years.

    If there is one major where he might have a shot at making a run at, it would be the PGA Championship. He's had some success in that event with a pair of seconds, a third, three top-fives and six top-25s.

Jason Day

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    Jason Day had a big chance last year at Augusta.
    Jason Day had a big chance last year at Augusta.Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Jason Day has the best recent resume of any player who has yet to win a major title.

    He tied for second in the Masters in 2011, finished second solo and T-2 in the U.S. Open in 2011 and 2013 and posted a T-8 in the PGA Championship last year.

    He had a great chance to win the Masters last year, being tied at the top before making bogey on two of the final three holes. That was only his fourth Masters, and obviously he's learned about Augusta National very well.

    Day didn't become the first Australian to win the Masters last year, that honor went to Adam Scott.

    Don't be surprised if Day closes the deal in April.