Golfers with the Most to Prove in Remainder of 2014 Season

Mike DudurichContributor IApril 17, 2014

Golfers with the Most to Prove in Remainder of 2014 Season

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    Webb Simpson has proven he has the game, now he needs to get it in gear again.
    Webb Simpson has proven he has the game, now he needs to get it in gear again.Harry How/Getty Images

    In terms of major championships, the Masters represents the quarter-pole in the season.

    In terms of the season-long FedEx Cup points race, the Masters is one event short of being the halfway point.

    There's still a lot of golf to be played and much to be decided.

    But it does seem like a nice spot to put the onus on some players who have not yet performed to the level expected of them.

    Anybody who is well down the money list obviously has lots to prove and improve on.

    But there are several elite players, based not only on their performance at the Masters but leading up to the year's first major as well, who have things to prove.

    Take a look at this list.

Rory McIlroy

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    That lean tells you the ball isn't headed in the intended direction.
    That lean tells you the ball isn't headed in the intended direction.David Cannon/Getty Images

    For Rory McIlroy, it's pretty simple.

    He has yet to prove he has come back from his fall as No. 1 player in the world.

    New clubs, new management, new girlfriend and his ascension to the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking was too much for the youngster from Northern Ireland to handle in 2013.

    There are signs that he's putting things back together, but when the heat was on at Augusta last weekend, he couldn't hit the shots he needed to, couldn't post the numbers he needed to.

    He's playing better, but the fact he blew a back-nine lead at the Honda Classic tells you he's not back yet.

     

Jason Day

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    Jason Day did not putt well at Augusta National Golf Club.
    Jason Day did not putt well at Augusta National Golf Club.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    It all seemed to be lining up for Jason Day.

    Top-three finishes two of the last three years at the Masters, a gutsy win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Australian native was ready to roll.

    Then came a thumb injury that forced him out of action until the Masters. The injury bothered him at Augusta, but not nearly as much as a poor short game.

    Day won't play now until the Players Championship in a couple of weeks.

    He needs to get healthy and validate the high expectations of him coming into this season.

     

Jonas Blixt

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    Jonas Blizt turned a lot of heads with his strong performance in the Masters.
    Jonas Blizt turned a lot of heads with his strong performance in the Masters.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    There may never have been a guy to win a pair of tournaments and earn over $4 million in a two-year period and do it as quietly as Jonas Blixt.

    The native of Sweden has flirted with the tops of leaderboards a few times, but then would disappear from public sight. He finished T26 in the British Open and fourth in the PGA Championship.

    So it was totally shocking Blixt hung around the periphery of contention Sunday at Augusta, eventually finishing in a T2.

    Blixt, who will celebrate his 30th birthday this week, needs to find consistency. His flashes of brilliance are great, but to get where he wants to go, he needs to become more of a factor on more of a regular basis.

     

Patrick Reed

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    Patrick Reed has three wins to his credit this year.
    Patrick Reed has three wins to his credit this year.Tyler Lecka/Getty Images

    Patrick Reed has won three times on the PGA Tour, twice since January. He's proven to be able to stand up to an elite field, as he showed in winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

    Reed obviously doesn't have a problem creating a little controversy. He proclaimed himself a top-five player in the world after his big win at Doral, setting off plenty of comment in the golf world.

    He's not played like a top-five player, posting a T52 and MC, the latter coming at the Masters.

    Reed is most likely going to play on the United States Ryder Cup team, barring a monumental collapse.

    He'll need to prove that he can play at a high level throughout the summer to justify that Ryder Cup spot.

     

Brandt Snedeker

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    Brandt Snedeker has to be wondering where his game went.
    Brandt Snedeker has to be wondering where his game went.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Brandt Snedeker had the biggest year of his career in 2013, winning twice and earning over $5 million.

    And that despite a recurring rib injury that derailed a terrific start.

    Now, Snedeker seems to have lost his biggest asset: his putting. He averaged 1.62 putts per green and three-putted four times in 72 holes on Augusta National Golf Club's tricky surfaces.

    Putting is the one thing that had made Snedeker a relevant player on the PGA Tour.

    This year on tour, his strokes gained putting stat is .109, 83rd on the PGA Tour. And he's ranked 223rd in total putting.

    Those are most un-Snedeker numbers, and he'll be working hard to prove this stretch was a slump and not a trend.

Webb Simpson

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    It's been tough for Webb Simpson for a while.
    It's been tough for Webb Simpson for a while.USA TODAY Sports

    Webb Simpson was pretty darn good when he won the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

    Since then, he's just been good. And there's nothing wrong with being just good.

    He's made a lot of cash being just good, but when he made the step up to hold that U.S. Open trophy, he became known as someone who is more than just good.

    Simpson, one of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour, has really not been a factor in majors since.

    He needs to prove once again that he's an elite player, one who should be a regular on Ryder Cup and Presidents' Cup teams. Right now, Simpson is 12th on the Ryder Cup points list.