Stock Watch for Golf's Top Stars 1 Week Out from 2014 PGA Championship

Ben AlberstadtFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2014

Stock Watch for Golf's Top Stars 1 Week Out from 2014 PGA Championship

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    The 2014 PGA Championship begins August 7. At last report, all 100 of the top 100 golfers in the world will be teeing it up at Valhalla, per the PGA of America. Not surprisingly, then, all of the game's biggest stars will be in the field.

    Of course, not all of those casting the longest shadows are playing well heading into the home stretch, although some (including the guy in the picture above) have been doing pretty well for themselves.

    With just one tournament before the final major of the year, whose stock is on the rise? Who is experiencing a rapid sell-off of his shares?

    Read on to find out.

Stock Up: Rory McIlroy

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR): second

    FedEx Cup ranking: 12th

    Last three starts: first (Open Championship), 14th (Scottish Open), missed cut (Irish Open)

     

    Stock report

    It's difficult to imagine a situation in which a guy wins a major championship and his stock isn't trending upward entering his next tournament.

    After an anomalous missed cut at the Irish Open, Rory McIlroy was solid at the Scottish Open, finishing 14th. Continuing the theme of various countries' opens, McIlroy was even better at the British Open (or Open Championship, depending on your national preference).

    Entering the tournament as the favorite to win, McIlroy led at the conclusion of the first three rounds at Hoylake. His Sunday 71 was good enough to beat Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler by a stroke. After collecting his third piece of major hardware, McIlroy's stock is most definitely moving up.

Stock Down: Tiger Woods

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    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    OWGR: 10th

    FedEx Cup ranking: 215th

    Last three starts: 69th (Open Championship), missed cut (Quicken Loans National), T25 (WGC-Cadillac Championship)

     

    Stock report

    No surprise here: Tiger Woods' stock is trending down. In his return to competition following a three-month layoff due to back surgery, Woods missed the cut at the Quicken Loans National in his pre-Open Championship tuneup.

    At the time, the former world No. 1 was optimistic about his game, stating that his recovery was ahead of schedule and that there were "a lot of positives" to be taken from the week, per Steve DiMeglio of USA Today.

    With a week off to practice following the missed cut, Woods headed to Hoylake, scene of his 2006 triumph. There, he struggled from tee to green, making the cut on the number and eventually finishing 69th. There was little to be encouraged by in Woods' play beyond the fact that he was playing rather than sitting on his couch.

Stock Up: Adam Scott

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    OWGR: first

    FedEx Cup ranking: 17th

    Last three starts: T5 (Open Championship), T9 (U.S. Open), T4 (the Memorial)

     

    Stock report

    Since winning the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial at the end of May, Adam Scott hasn't finished outside the top 10 in any tournament he's entered. That's an indication of some pretty good golf, especially since two of the three starts were in major championships.

    In fact, besides a tie for 38th at The Players Championship (which began with a disastrous opening-round 77), Scott hasn't finished outside the top 25 in a tournament this year. He's fourth on the PGA Tour in scoring average (69.4) and third in birdies per round (4.2).

    On the stat sheets and finish chart, Scott is dominant. He'll want another win to insert himself into the Player of the Year conversation. With that added motivation, it's tough not to be bullish on the world No. 1.

Stock Down: Phil Mickelson

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    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    OWGR: 13th

    FedEx Cup ranking: 89th

    Last three starts: 23rd (Open Championship), 11th (Scottish Open), 28th (U.S. Open)

     

    Stock report

    Phil Mickelson rebounded from an opening-round 74 at The Open Championship with rounds of 70, 71 and 68 to finish 23rd. Still, Lefty's showing was a disappointing one.

    The 44-year-old hasn't secured a top-10 finish on the tour this season. Although he battled back at Royal Liverpool, the performance did little to suggest Mickelson will finish the season strong.

    Mickelson has fallen from sixth to 109th in strokes gained-putting from last season, per PGATour.com, which is the root of his ills. His difficulties with the flatstick bring to mind the era in which Mickelson seemingly couldn't make a significant putt in the early 2000s—not the memory he wants to conjure up.

Stock Up: Sergio Garcia

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    OWGR: fifth

    FedEx Cup ranking: 16th

    Last three starts: second (Open Championship), 12th (BMW International Open), second (Travelers Championship)

     

    Stock report

    For Sergio Garcia, The Open Championship was evidence that the Spaniard is ready to win a major. In contrast to the same tournament at the same course in 2006, Garcia looked like he was doing all he could to win en route to his final-round 66. In 2006, Garcia looked lost, wandering around Hoylake in fluorescent attire and penciling in 73 strokes for his day's work.

    Garcia also tied for second in his previous tour start leading up to The Open Championship, rebounding from a missed cut at the Masters. Things are looking as good as they have all year for El Nino.

Stock Down: Bubba Watson

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    OWGR: seventh

    FedEx Cup ranking: second

    Last three starts: missed cut (Open Championship), 16th (Greenbrier Classic), 31st (Travelers Championship)

     

    Stock report

    Bubba Watson doesn't seem to be much of a fan of links golf. He certainly hasn't played well at The Open Championship, where he missed the cut this year.

    While we'd like to see Watson embrace the English style and play well on the courses of the Open rota, his poor showing doesn't have a tremendous bearing on how he'll play in the States.

    Still, when one of the premier players in the world misses the cut in a major, there are more sellers than buyers of his stock.

Stock Up: Justin Rose

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    OWGR: fourth

    FedEx Cup ranking: 20th

    Last three starts: 23rd (Open Championship), first (Scottish Open), first (Quicken Loans National)

     

    Stock report

    Entering The Open Championship, Justin Rose's stock was at a season high. He won the Quicken Loans National on the PGA Tour and then headed to the Continent and won the Scottish Open.

    While Rose wasn't fantastic at Royal Liverpool, his performance wasn't disastrous. And there are only so many weeks in a row one can keep winning, right?

    Rose is statistically solid and has jumped from 133rd to 69th in strokes gained-putting this year, per PGATour.com. Two wins in his last three events and improved putting are reasons Rose's stock is rated a strong "buy" at the moment.

Stock Down: Dustin Johnson

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    Charles Laberge/Getty Images

    OWGR: 16th

    FedEx Cup ranking: fourth

    Last three starts: missed cut (Canadian Open), 12th (Open Championship), 31st (Travelers Championship)

     

    Stock report

    While it's unwise to read too much into a missed cut after a player has flown from Europe to North America or vice versa, a missed cut is still a missed cut.

    Johnson did the same routine last year, playing The Open Championship one week and the RBC Canadian Open the next. He finished tied for second in the Canadian leg of his journey in 2013. Thus, failing to even make it to the weekend this time around is particularly disappointing.

Stock Up: Jordan Spieth

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    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    OWGR: 11th

    FedEx Cup ranking: sixth

    Last three starts: 36th (Open Championship), seventh (John Deere Classic), 11th (Quicken Loans National)

     

    Stock report

    Jordan Spieth has continued to evolve as a professional golfer this year. And while a 36th-place finish at The Open Championship may not be impressive for other golfers in the top 10 of the FedEx Cup standings, it's important to remember Spieth was teeing it up in just his second Open.

    Thus, improving on his tie for 44th in 2013 is an improvement. Add this to his top-10 finish at the John Deere Classic the previous week, and it's easy to see why Spieth Inc. is nearing blue-chip status.

Stock Flat: Jimmy Walker

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    OWGR: 19th

    FedEx Cup ranking: first

    Last three starts: 26th (Open Championship), missed cut (Greenbrier Classic), ninth (U.S. Open)

     

    Stock report

    If Jimmy Walker were a publicly traded corporation, investors would have been enthused by his performance at the U.S. Open, confused by his missed cut at the Greenbrier Classic and pleased by his made cut at The Open Championship (he missed the cut last year).

    Still, Walker Inc. would be trading well below the 52-week highs it hit around the time of his three victories earlier this year. Will Walker heat up again? It's really unclear, and his recent play doesn't give a lot of clues.

    Thus, investors would likely remain on the sidelines, keeping his stock price constant.