Golf

2014 Grades for Golf's Top Stars After Season's First 2 Majors

Mike DudurichContributor IJune 18, 2014

2014 Grades for Golf's Top Stars After Season's First 2 Majors

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    Martin Kaymer is the king of golf for at least this week.
    Martin Kaymer is the king of golf for at least this week.Eric Gay/Associated Press

    We're halfway through the 2014 major championship season.

    And what have we learned now that the Masters and U.S. Open have been completed?

    Well, we know Bubba Watson can win the Masters. He's done that twice now.

    We know when Martin Kaymer plays like he did in the U.S. Open, he's very difficult to beat.

    What else do we know?

    Here's a list of what else we've learned involving 10 of the top players in the game.

Phil Mickelson

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    Once again, things just didn't work out for Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open.
    Once again, things just didn't work out for Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open.Matt York/Associated Press

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in the Masters after shooting rounds of 76 and 73.

    He couldn't find a way to score at Pinehurst, either, posting rounds of 70, 73, 72, 72 and finishing T28.

    It's really somewhat amazing to realize how much he's struggled since winning the British Open last year at Muirfield. The reality is he has had one top-10 finish since then and none this year.

    He's not driving the ball well, but that's nothing new. He's not long or straight. His short game has left him for stretches, and that was one of the best parts of his game.

    He took 65 putts Thursday and Friday, and while he managed to get that total down to 56 Saturday and Sunday, nobody wins an Open putting that way. He had six three-putt greens and a total of 121 putts for the week.

    Grade: C

Adam Scott

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    Adam Scott's anchored putting stroke hasn't paid off for him in 2014.
    Adam Scott's anchored putting stroke hasn't paid off for him in 2014.Matt York/Associated Press

    The former defending Masters champion would like to have his opening nine and his second round over again at Augusta National this year.

    Adam Scott had to rally on the back nine to post a 69 in the first round, but then he let things get away in the second round and eventually managed a T14.

    He played a little better at Pinehurst, but he couldn't make a move up the leaderboard.

    Statistically speaking, Scott is doing a lot of things well and leads the PGA Tour with 36 consecutive cuts made. But the Australian raised the bar of expectations when he won the Masters in 2013 and hasn't quite reached that level this year.

    Grade: B

Martin Kaymer

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    Martin Kaymer is golf's most shiny new star.
    Martin Kaymer is golf's most shiny new star.Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Is there any doubt about Martin Kaymer being back?

    He's won a major and a major wannabe in dominating fashion and seems to be in peak form.

    One thing he doesn't seem to have yet is a handle on Augusta National Golf Club. He missed the cut his first four times there, and in his last three, he's finished T44, T35 and T31.

    Kaymer put on one of the great U.S. Open performances of all time on Pinehurst No. 2 and will definitely be in the spotlight in the year's final two majors.

    Grade: A

Rory McIlroy

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    Rory McIlroy didn't capitalize on the momentum from his BMW Championship.
    Rory McIlroy didn't capitalize on the momentum from his BMW Championship.Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    It seems as though golf fans around the world are on pins and needles waiting for Rory McIlroy to win another major championship.

    There was a great deal of excitement leading into the Masters, and a second-round 77 blew away whatever chance he had to win. His other rounds were right around par, and he managed to finish at even par and T8.

    Excitement was at an even higher level when he won the BMW Championship on the European Tour, just before the U.S. Open. But McIlroy could only shoot one round in the 60s and was never in contention, finishing T23.

    His statistics are not all that bad, especially for a guy who played well enough to win the biggest event on the European Tour.

    Grade: B-

Bubba Watson

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    Bubba Watson has been a bit wayward lately.
    Bubba Watson has been a bit wayward lately.Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Bubba Watson won the Masters for the second time in three years back in April.

    He came to Pinehurst having collapsed on Sunday afternoon at the Memorial. He finished third but was in control and wobbled badly down the stretch.

    Watson sounded like he was intimidated by No. 2 when he talked about the "unfriendly greens" and the "weeds" that surrounded the fairways, per ESPN.com's Bob Harig. And he certainly played like he was intimidated, shooting rounds of 76 and 70 on his way to missing the cut.

    The two-time major champion was never a factor in the game's biggest spotlight.

    Grade: B-

Matt Kuchar

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    Matt Kuchar couldn't get it going at Pinehurst.
    Matt Kuchar couldn't get it going at Pinehurst.Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Matt Kuchar is golf's always-smiling, happy-go-lucky fella.

    Nothing seems to get to him, at least not so it's visible to anyone else.

    He finished T5 in the Masters and was mildly in contention throughout the week.

    Kuchar's scores got progressively worse in the U.S. Open, leading to a T12 finish.

    And he wasn't nearly as happy with that finish as he was with the T5.

    Kuchar wasn't thrilled with the USGA's setup at Pinehurst, comparing it to a course being on the edge of being unfair like Shinnecock Hills was in 2004.

    Grade: B

Jordan Spieth

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    Jordan Spieth picked up more major championship experience but no title.
    Jordan Spieth picked up more major championship experience but no title.David Goldman/Associated Press/Associated Press

    The kid just continues to pile up good finishes in major championships.

    Two majors, two top-20 finishes for Jordan Spieth—not bad for a 20-year-old.

    For three-and-a-half rounds at the Masters, Spieth was battling Bubba Watson shot for shot. But he fell out after he struggled on the eighth and nine holes, and he finished T2.

    It wasn't nearly that good at the U.S. Open. He shot 72 and 73 in the final two rounds, taking him out of a top-10 finish and settling him at T17.

    Grade: B-

Rickie Fowler

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    Rickie Fowler definitely seems to be on the upswing at this point.
    Rickie Fowler definitely seems to be on the upswing at this point.Matt York/Associated Press

    Here's a guy who may very well be on to something.

    Despite having a PGA Tour victory (2012 Wells Fargo Championship), Fowler's young career had not come close to matching the hype he brought with him to the pros.

    He hung around contention at the Masters despite shooting 73 in the final round, eventually recording a T5 finish.

    He was even better at Pinehurst, matching the courageous performance of Erik Compton, to finish T2.

    Fowler's two major performances certainly seem to indicate his career has taken a turn in the right direction.

    Grade: A

Jimmy Walker

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    Jimmy Walker's season has been very impressive.
    Jimmy Walker's season has been very impressive.Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Prior to this season, Jimmy Walker had made six major championship appearances, and his best finish had been T21.

    So you might be shocked to know that in the first two majors of 2014, Walker finished T8 and T9, respectively.

    But if you're an astute golf fan, you know this has been something of a magical season for the 36-year-old Oklahoma native.

    He's won three times this year, breaking a streak of 188 starts on the PGA Tour without a victory.

    Walker's only had one round in the 60s in his T8 in the Masters and T9 in the U.S. Open, but he's hung around in both, making 2014 even better for him.

    Grade: B

Dustin Johnson

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    Dustin Johnson didn't make enough putts to contend at the U.S. Open.
    Dustin Johnson didn't make enough putts to contend at the U.S. Open.David Goldman/Associated Press

    Dustin Johnson posted five top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour early in the 2014 season.

    Since then, there have been a string of fairly unremarkable performances for the long-hitting Johnson.

    In the midst of that was a missed cut at the Masters, where he posted rounds of 77 and 74.

    But out of nowhere, Johnson put up a pair of 69s at Pinehurst in the first two rounds. Of course, at two-under par, he was still eight shots behind Martin Kaymer.

    He slipped a bit after that, shooting 70 and 73 while finishing at T4, and wasn't able to put any kind of run together.

    Grade: C

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