Stock Watch for Golf's Top Stars as 2014 Open Championship Draws Near
As the PGA Tour season ebbs and flows its way into July, it seems like a perfect time to check how some of the biggest stars are trending.
There are those who are playing well and seem to be on the right track as the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool looms in two weeks.
Phil Mickelson is the defending Open champion, but he's definitely a downward trender.
Jordan Spieth has seemingly hit the wall and hasn't played particularly well lately.
Martin Kaymer is a definite upward trender after his dominating win at the U.S. Open.
Here's a list of how 10 of the top players are viewed heading into July.
Stock Down: Tiger Woods
Prior to 2008, he was the man with the best record in major championships this side of Jack Nicklaus.
That was then, this is now, and Tiger Woods has, based on his play from the start of 2013 and his two-round appearance at the Quicken Loans National, much work to be done before he'll be contending.
When he plays in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, he'll have plenty of good memories because he won on that course in 2006.
He's not scheduled to play again until the Open, so it will be tough for him to get much momentum going in his game.
Stock down for Tiger Woods.
Stock Up: Adam Scott
Adam Scott has 11 top-10 finishes in his past 14 starts in the majors.
He of course won the 2013 Masters and should have won the 2012 Open Championship, had it not been for his epic collapse over the final four holes.
Scott's record always makes him a favorite in the sport's biggest events and, combined with the kind of season he's had in 2014, he'll be on that very short list of guys capable of winning at Royal Liverpool.
Scott has finished in the top-10 six of 10 times this year.
Stock up for Adam Scott.
Stock Down: Harris English
Harris English is one of the most talented young players on the PGA Tour, but he hasn't done much at all in the majors. A T15 in last year's Open Championship is his highest finish in any of golf's biggest tournaments.
Starting with the Masters, English has missed the cut in half of his starts. He did finish T7 at the Travelers, but that has been, by far, his best effort to this point.
His statistics indicate he's doing a lot of things well, but obviously he's not been able to figure out how to get things done in the majors.
Stock down for Harris English.
Stock Down: Phil Mickelson
The defending Open champion had great expectations, including winning the U.S. Open title at Pinehurst to complete his career grand slam.
That didn't happen, obviously, as he finished T28.
As a matter of fact, not much else has happened all year for Mickelson.
It's almost incomprehensible that Mickelson has played in 15 events this year on the PGA Tour and has yet to finish in the top 10.
He'll be a very popular defending champion when he gets to England in a few weeks, but he will not make much of a defense.
Stock down for Phil Mickelson.
Stock Down: Bubba Watson
It's been a bonanza year for Bubba Watson.
He won the Northern Trust Open and the Masters. He has over $5 million in earnings for the year.
But when he arrived at Pinehurst, it didn't take Watson long to talk himself into being intimidated by Donald Ross' classic layout, and he talked himself right into a missed cut.
According to Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel, Watson admitted he needed to get stronger mentally after Pinehurst, and that will never be more of a necessity than in the Open Championship, where winds, fescue and wacky bounces are a big part of the experience.
Based on how he's handled things to this point, don't be surprised if he struggles mentally across the ocean.
Stock down for Bubba Watson.
Stock Up: Jason Day
Jason Day was as close to a sure bet as there was to win a major after coming very close in 2012. He led the Masters with three holes to play but couldn't finish the deal and finished third.
Sine then, he has struggled with injuries, but he seemed to make the turn past those when he won the World Golf Championships-Match Play Accenture Championship in February.
But again, wrist and thumb injuries flared, and he missed a chunk of the season. He played well at the U.S. Open, finishing T4, and played reasonably well at the Travelers Championship the week after Pinehurst, finishing T18.
If he is indeed healthy, he'll be a force in the Open Championship.
Stock up for Jason Day.
Stock Down: Jordan Spieth
How spoiled have we gotten with the immense talents of Jordan Spieth?
The kid was awesome a year ago, going from no status at the beginning of the year to a Presidents Cup member and Tour Championship contender by the end of the year.
The expectation was that he would take the next step, winning a major, this season. But that hasn't happened, even though he finished T2 in the Masters and T17 in the U.S. Open.
And now it seems the youngster has perhaps hit the wall a bit. His last four events—T37, T14, T19 and T17—haven't featured the kind of explosive action that is normally part of what he does.
Spieth may need a week or two of rest before heading across the ocean for his next crack at a major title.
Stock Up: Martin Kaymer
Take a look at Martin Kaymer's 2014 season and, with the exception of two tournaments, his season would get an OK rating. Nothing special, but a lot of solid work by a guy who's fighting to get his game back to where it once was.
But those other two tournaments? They are the ones that stop you in your tracks. Victories in the Players Championship and the U.S. Open were as impressive as any wins on the PGA Tour this year.
They were wire-to-wire dominating wins in which Kaymer was 23-under par for those eight rounds.
He's well on his way becoming the player of the year, and he's a good bet to bolster those chances with strong performances in the Open and PGA Championships.
Stock Up: Matt Kuchar
A T5 at the Masters, a T12 at the U.S. Open.
In my book, that makes Matt Kuchar a major player, and one who will have to be dealt with in the year's final two major championships.
He's heard for several years he's the best player without a major and would love to get rid of that tag.
Kuchar obviously has all of the components necessary to win a major title, but it won't come until he puts them all together at a major. In over half of his starts this season, Kuchar has produced a top-10 finish.
Stock Up: Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy has teed it up 10 times on the PGA Tour in 2014.
In six of those events, he's posted a top-10 finish. But in every event, he's finished no worse than T25.
No, he hasn't won a major this year, but does have T8 (Masters) and T23 (U.S. Open) finishes.
But he has put together a nice body of work thus far and will definitely be on the short list of favorites in the Open Championship.
Definitely stock up for Rory McIlroy.
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