Stock Watch for Golf's Top Stars After 2014 Players Championship

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2014

Stock Watch for Golf's Top Stars After 2014 Players Championship

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    On the floor of our PGA Tour Stock Exchange, shares of the world's best golfers are trading hands following Martin Kaymer's win at the The Players. 

    Kaymer, now a two-time winner on tour, seems to have rebuilt his confidence and returned to form after a period in the wilderness. The former major champion's stock is on the rise accordingly.

    Who else are investors bullish on? Continue reading to find out. 

Stock Up: Martin Kaymer

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR): 28

    FedEx Cup: 18

    Last Three Results: 1, T18, T23

    Players Performance: Winner, winner: Martin Kaymer won The Players on the strength of an opening-round 63 and a brilliant par save during the final round.

    The German was cruising Sunday until a weather delay and lengthy wait got in the way. 

    At the 15th hole, however, Kaymer made a series of poor decisions that led ultimately to a double bogey on the hole, which reduced his lead from three strokes to one. And when he nearly found the water with his tee shot at the 17th hole (due largely to a bad break) and chunked his second shot, the golfer seemed to be coming unhinged. 

    However, Kaymer made a brilliant read of a 30-foot putt that broke nearly 10 feet, expertly matching line and speed to save par. The putt, which couldn't have had more than a 2 percent chance of finding the cup, allowed the former PGA champion to head to the final hole with a one-stroke lead. 

    Disaster averted, Kaymer secured his second PGA Tour victory. Accordingly, his stock is up. 

Stock Down: Jordan Spieth

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    OWGR: 8

    FedEx Cup: 6

    Last Three Results: T4, T12, T2

    Players Performance: It's difficult to downgrade Jordan Spieth, but I'm doing it for his own good. Yes, the 20-year-old did enter the final round of The Players tied for the lead with Kaymer. However, a final-round 74 and the resulting T4 finish have to be disappointing for a player looking to take the next step. 

    Spieth is a fine young man. He is a great talent. However, first at the Masters and now at The Players, he wasn't able to get the job done on Sunday. Perhaps the bar has been set too high, but if Spieth is going to be a truly great player on the PGA Tour, it's important that he is able to finish golf tournaments. 

    Playing in the final group on Sunday will benefit Spieth going forward. I expect he will win many significant golf tournaments in the future. However, he is not up to the task at the moment.

Stock Up: Jimmy Walker

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    OWGR: 17

    FedEx Cup: 1

    Last Three Results: T6, Cut, T8

    Players Performance: Jimmy Walker put together an inspired final-round 65 at TPC Sawgrass to fly up the leaderboard Sunday at The Players. Further, he hit more than 70 percent of greens in regulation for the week.

    A top-10 finish coming off a cut ought to account for a bump in a golfer's stock. When that top-10 finish is facilitated by a Sunday 65, it's made all that much better. 

    Further, the Oklahoma native rebounded from an opening-round 75 that left him in danger of missing the cut. Thus, Walker followed up his missed cut at the Wells Fargo Championship in impressive fashion at TPC Sawgrass; his stock is trending upward accordingly. 

Stock Down: Matt Kuchar

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    OWGR: 5

    FedEx Cup: 3

    Last Three Results: T17, 1, T5

    Players Performance: Matt Kuchar wasn't overwhelming at The Players. Even though he finished tied for 17th, he really ought to have finished inside the top 10, especially as a past winner at the event. He only broke 70 once during the week, which isn't terrible, to be sure, but it's a far cry from the torrid pace Kuchar has maintained in recent events. 

    In addition, Kuchar was sloppy tee-to-green, hitting little better than 60 percent of greens in regulation for the tournament. It's impossible not to think that the Georgia Tech alum has begun to return to earth, and a sell-off is accordingly in order.  

Stock Up: Rory McIlroy

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    OWGR: 10

    FedEx Cup: 33

    Last Three Results: T6, T8, T8

    Players Performance:  Rory McIlroy nearly missed the cut at The Players. The demonstration of mental fortitude that the golfer displayed over the final nine holes of his Friday round in order to punch his ticket for the weekend, however, is the real quality we've been looking for from the Ulsterman as of late. 

    After grinding to play the weekend, McIlroy carded rounds of 69 and 66 to finish tied for sixth for the tournamentan impressive result given the 42 he fired over his opening nine Friday. 


Stock Down: Phil Mickelson

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    OWGR: 11

    FedEx Cup: 85

    Last Three Results: Cut, T11, Cut

    Players Performance: Phil Mickelson is slumping. The veteran golfer has now missed the cut in two of his past three starts, one of which was the Masters. He hasn't finished inside the top 10 this season. 

    Mickelson entered The Players after nearly shooting 80 in the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship, and his game unraveled from there. 

    Even worse, Mickelson told reporters he was mentally "soft" after his missed cut. Not only is Lefty's stock down, but it doesn't seem like the golfer is compelled to buy any himself at the moment. 

Stock Up: Adam Scott

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    OWGR: 2

    FedEx Cup: 54

    Last Three Results: T38, T14, 3

    Players Performance: Adam Scott opened The Players with a pathetic 77 and seemed destined to miss the cut. However, the Australian rebounded with a second round that was 10 strokes better. Scott's 67 came three weeks to the day that, as Ben Everill reported, he married his longtime girlfriend at a private ceremony. 

    Newly married and piecing together a solid three rounds following a dismal start, Scott's stock is on the rise.

Stock Down: Bubba Watson

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    OWGR: 4

    FedEx Cup: 2

    Last Three Results: T48, 1, (W/D), T2 

    Players Performance: Bubba Watson returned to golf after his Masters victory with a relatively unimpressive showing at The Players. A final-round 76 could be construed as Watson mailing it in on the weekend as he had no chance of winning.

    However, even if he had posted merely mediocre scores on the weekend, his stock would necessarily be trending down from its previous high and figurative investors' post-Masters buying spree.