The 10 Golfers Most in Need of a Win Before the 2014 Masters
This week's Texas Valero Open is the last opportunity for players to get into the field of the Masters by making it into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
This year, however, that's really not an issue because only two players have a real shot that way: Richard Sterne and George Coetzee, 53 and 55. It's not an issue because they're not playing this week.
Chesson Hadley (56) and Ryan Palmer (62) have outside shots.
But there are definitely guys who are in need of wins, whether they are in the Masters or not.
Here's a list of 10 of them.
One of the long-standing adages in professional golf is to be successful at Augusta National Golf Club, you need to be a great putter. Or, at the very least, you need to be putting great the week of the Masters.
Brandt Snedeker has proven to be a great putter and has had some success in the Masters, including three straight top-20 finishes and a near-miss in 2008 when he finished in a tie for third.
He won the RBC Canadian Open last July but hasn't accomplished a great deal since. He did finish eighth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week.
A win could be a kick-start to Snedeker, who isn't playing this weekend in Texas, making another run at the Masters.
Phil Mickelson is hardly irrelevant in the world of professional golf.
Heck, he won the British Open last July.
But as he starts to close in on his 44th birthday in a few months, the spotlight of high expectations doesn't seem to be shining as brightly on him as it once did. And with good reason, since he hasn't done all that much this season to keep him on the front burner.
Golf fans around the world adore the big lefthander and would love to see him get that fourth green jacket.
He badly needs a win to get him pointed in the right direction again.
Mickelson is playing in the Valero Texas Open.
In his four most recent appearances in the Masters, Matt Kuchar has a pair of top-10s and a pair of top-20s. The top-10s have come in the last two starts.
Kuchar has won six times on the PGA Tour and has earned over $27 million, which qualifies him as the closest thing to a walking, talking ATM machine there is.
His last four events have resulted in finishes of: MC, T9, T13, T38.
Kuchar, who is playing this week in the Valero Texas Open, is definitely a man in need of spark.
Webb Simpson sure had the look of a major champion when he held the U.S. Open trophy high above his head in June 2012 at the Olympic Club.
He had just survived a very difficult golf course and the most pressure he'd ever endured in winning a golf tournament.
Since then, he's done all right, nothing special. One win, 25 top-fives, but no contention in any of the majors.
Simpson is better than that.
Winning again would be a big shot in the arm for Simpson, who's not playing this week.
Jim Furyk is several months from his 44th birthday and hasn't won on the PGA Tour since the Tour Championship in 2010.
That's going on four years, if you struggle with math.
A PGA Tour victory might not improve his chances at Augusta National because in 16 appearances there was a T11 in 2012.
But it would do wonders for a guy with a guy whose career is definitely on the downhill side. The question is when, or if, he'll be able to keep it together for four rounds again.
Furyk is playing in the Valero Texas Open.
Since winning the AT&T National last June, Bill Haas been a good player.
That's not necessarily a compliment because Haas is much better than a good player.
He proved that when he won the Tour Championship in 2011.
Haas is a guy who makes people shake their heads when the subject of major championships comes up.
The Masters would seem to be a nice fit for him, but in his four appearances there, his best finish is a T25.
A win before the Masters could be the kind of spark he needs to reach greater heights.
Ian Poulter hasn't won on the PGA Tour since the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in 2012. He hasn't won on the European Tour since the Volvo World Match Play Championship in 2011.
The man who dominates in the Ryder Cup hasn't become much more than a prolific twitterer in stroke play.
He needs a win perhaps more than anyone else on this list.
Players who expect to do well in the Masters need to have some sort of form coming into that week.
Poulter has no form.
Hunter Mahan is annually on the lists of players to watch in the majors and the best player to not have won a major.
And there's good reason for his inclusion on those lists. He has played in 32 major championships and has finished in the top five just once, a fourth in the U.S. Open at Merion last summer.
Even more disturbing than that, however, is the fact that he's not won since he picked up a couple of wins in four weeks in 2012.
Since then, he's been out there playing well enough to cash a lot of checks, missing on six cuts in 49 starts.
It's tough to win a major when you're winless in almost two years.
Yes, he did win the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester. And when you think about it, he's had five top-10s in majors in just 19 starts.
But in this 'what have you done for me lately' world, the Duf needs to get it going.
He's had three top-10s this year but has never really been a serious contender.
He's the last major championship winner and could really use a kick to make sure he plays like it.
He's not playing in the Valero Texas Open.
Big, strong, athletic.
All of those descriptions fit Dustin Johnson.
And he's a pretty darn good player, too. He's having a nice season, with a win and five top-10s.
He's made over $3 million already this year, so you're asking why he's on this list.
It's because of those things, that's why.
Johnson is extremely talented and should win more. He's good enough to be winning majors and had a chance to win a couple.
Two of his last three starts have been top fives. A win by Johnson would further that momentum going into the Masters.