The Top Storylines to Follow on the PGA Tour in the Rest of 2014
The PGA Tour season has hit the three-quarters pole (three majors contested) and is ready to hit what could be argued the most exciting stretch of the year.
The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship will be held back to back at the end of the month and into August.
Two weeks later it's the start of the four-week FedEx Cup playoffs, culminating with the Tour Championship.
And two weeks after that, the Ryder Cup will be held in Gleneagles, Scotland.
There is still plenty to play for and plenty of storylines to follow.
Check out the following list of some of the more interesting storylines in the post-Open world of golf.
Who Will Win the FedEx Cup Race?
Jimmy Walker has been atop the FedEx Cup points race since he won his third tournament of the year, the AT&T Pebble Beach National in February.
Players have made moves up the list, but nobody has been able to catch him. Bubba Watson has gotten closest thanks to his win at the Masters.
Less than 900 points separate him and Jordan Spieth, who is 10th this week.
But with a major (PGA Championship) left as well as a World Golf Championships event (Bridgestone Invitational), there are big points still available. Regular tournament winners get 500 points, major winners get 600 and WGC event winners get 550.
Rory McIlroy is 11th, but if his Open win turns into a hot streak, he could easily win the race.
I'm going with Walker to finish No. 1 in the points race and McIlroy to win the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Tour Championship.
Can Tiger Woods Find Enough Form to Get on the Ryder Cup Team?
Tiger Woods has done some spectacular things over the course of his PGA Tour career.
Wild comebacks, blowing fields away in major championships, winning a major with body parts broken or torn—nothing seemed to be out of the question.
If he's able to pull off getting into the FedEx Cup playoffs and make the United States Ryder Cup team, that may be his most amazing accomplishment.
With only two events on his schedule—the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship—Woods would need to play better than he has since 2013 in order to move up the list to get inside the top 125 that qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
And if he's able to pull that off, he'd probably earn a captain's choice onto the Ryder Cup team.
But there are a lot "ifs" and "ands" involved, and with only six competitive rounds under his belt, the odds are stacked greatly against him.
How Will Jordan Spieth Finish out the Year?
With great expectations comes great pressure, and while Jordan Spieth might not be willing to admit it, he may have been feeling some of that as the season unfolded.
His second full year on the PGA Tour was heralded as a step up after going from no status at the beginning of the year to contending in the Tour Championship and making the Presidents Cup team.
Spieth was destined to win a major it seemed, and when he contended for three-and-a-half rounds in the Masters before finishing T2, that certainly seemed even more real. But then he finished T17 in the Open and T36 in the British Open.
It seems the 20-year-old has hit the proverbial wall, and hopefully he'll use this week off to recharge his batteries to get ready for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championships back-to-back.
That major championship?
I'm thinking that's not going to happen this year. But there's no reason he can't get his game sharp and do well in these two months.
Who Will Be Player of the Year?
Jimmy Walker has three PGA Tour wins. Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer have two each.
Patrick Reed also has a pair of victories but has become irrelevant since declaring himself a top-five player in the world.
My money, however, is on a guy with just one win to this point. And the pick is based on something Tiger Woods said after the Open Championship.
"When [Rory] gets it going, he gets it going," Woods said in an ESPN.com story by Farrell Evans. "When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad. It's one or the other. If you look at his results, he's kind of that way."
I'm saying we're at the beginning of a McIlroy roll through the fall, and if he does, he'll be the Player of the Year.
Is Rory McIlroy Bound for No. 1?
The fall from grace of Tiger Woods and the ensuing void at the top of golf's hierarchy eventually led to Adam Scott taking that spot.
He's been at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking for 10 weeks and seems to have a comfortable lead. But then Rory McIlroy won at the British Open and, voila, McIlroy is second in the rankings at 8.1627.
Scott sits at 9.4211, and while that looks like a slim margin, that sort of advantage won't be wiped out quickly.
What works in McIlroy's favor is he and Scott will be basically playing big events the rest of the year, and those wins will we weighted more heavily.
Bottom line is if Scott continues to play well, post a few top-10s, maybe get a win, he'll be able to fend off the competition for a while. If he doesn't, look out for the Northern Irishman.
Big Things for Jim Furyk?
Jim Furyk probably won't ever forget how he blew the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club late on Sunday, how he blew the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational on the 72nd hole and how he struggled at the Ryder Cup at Medinah.
But the 44-year-old has rebounded nicely from those disappointments to post a good 2013 and an even better 2014.
He hasn't won this year, but he has finish second twice and finished in the top 15 in the first three majors of the year.
There's no reason to think Furyk can't continue at the level he's played to this point. He's going to be on Captain Tom Watson's Ryder Cup team in September and you can bet he'll be out for some redemption after his performance in that event in 2012.
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