The Top Feel-Good Storylines from the PGA Tour in 2014
Feel-good stories in sports in general, and in golf in particular, seem few and far between sometimes.
The 2014 golf season has been defined by stories such as Tiger Woods' poor form, back surgery and absence, and, more recently, Rory McIlroy's announcement that he had called off his engagement to Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
There have been, however, a bevy of more uplifting narratives and occurrences this season. Instead of dwelling on the negative, let's conjure up some warm and fuzzy feelings and look at the top feel-good storylines from 2014.
Adam Scott's Secret Marriage
What's better than a golfer tying the knot with his longtime girlfriend? When he does it entirely in secret and then manages to keep news of the marriage from leaking until he chooses to casually mention it to a reporter.
Indeed, not even the wedding guests knew they were, well, wedding guests. As Scott said of the ceremony, per the Associated Press and via USA Today, he and girlfriend Marie Kojzar "just said we were having a party, so come on over. So then they [the guests] had no idea that it was going to happen. So that was the fun little game for me and Marie to play for a while, planning it and stuff."
While many may be upset that one of golf's most appealing men is off the market, it's hard not to feel good about the "Adam Scott's Secret Shotgun Wedding" story and the possibility that public figures may actually be able to keep some elements of their private lives private.
Entering the 2013-14 wraparound PGA Tour season, Jimmy Walker hadn't won in his 12 years of playing PGA Tour events.
The Oklahoma native began to put the pieces together in 2013, when he made 18 of 24 cuts and finished inside the top 10 five times, including second- and third-place finishes.
This season, in a four-month span, Walker won three times. On the season, he's made a total of 15 cuts in 17 starts, including a total of six top-10 finishes. Walker also impressed in his first Masters appearance, finishing tied for eighth.
When a tour veteran (and an apparent class act) such as Jimmy Walker becomes a force on tour and reaps the rewards of years of hard work, it's necessarily a feel-good story.
Bubba Watson's Masters victory is another significant feel-good story of the golf season. The left-handed maestro stumbled during the third round at Augusta when he fired a two-over 74. However, a clutch putt at the 18th left him tied with Jordan Spieth entering the final round.
Watson was steady, beating Spieth by three strokes for the day. Nobody else in the field was able to catch the Bagdad, Florida, native. Watson tapped in his final putt for a Sunday 69 and a second green jacket, high-fiving spectators as he left the green with son Caleb in his arms in one of the truly feel-good moments of this PGA Tour season.
Jordan Spieth established himself as one of the best young golfers on the PGA Tour in 2013. After starting the season with no status on tour, the then 19-year-old Texan made 18 of 23 cuts, including three second-place finishes and a win at the John Deere Classic.
Following his Sunday duel with Bubba Watson at this year's Masters Tournament and the way he carried himself therein and thereafter, Jordan Spieth has solidified himself as a feel-good golfer. He's easy to root for, modest and polite, and he has just the right number of relatable reactions to his golf shots, both good and bad.
First-time winners are great for both the present and the future of the PGA Tour, and they're easy to feel good about.
This season, there have been eight first-time winners on the PGA Tour, including Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk, Harris English, Chesson Hadley, Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Seung-Yul Noh and Matt Every.
Unless you're actively hoping for the demise of the PGA Tour, you have to be excited about the infusion of young talent on the pro circuit. Either young players are getting better, or old ones are getting worse, as there were 13 first-time winners on tour last year.
As this is a feel-good piece, we'll assume the former.
The immensely likable Matt Kuchar has risen to prominence this year, as the tour veteran is having the best season of his career.
And this "best year of his career" is a pretty good one. He won the RBC Heritage, finished second at the Shell Houston Open, tied for fifth at the Masters and has recorded an outrageous total of nine top-10 finishes in 13 starts.
"Aw, shucks" Kuchar, with his omnipresent smile, rambling toddlers and quiet confidence, is a huge feel-good component of the 2014 PGA Tour season thus far.
The Return of J.B. Holmes
J.B. Holmes' last win before the Wells Fargo Championship came in 2008.
Much transpired for the big hitter from Campbellsville, Kentucky, between the two victories.
In 2011, as Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press writes, Holmes "had brain surgery - twice. The first time was to remove a piece of his skull. The second time was from an allergic reaction to the adhesive that was holding the titanium plate to the base of the skull, causing severe headaches."
He also missed most of 2013 with an ankle injury.
In 2014, along with the win, Holmes has made 11 of 13 cuts and more than $1.8 million. The long-hitting Holmes was a likable figure prior to his tribulations. In overcoming them and returning to form, he's become the protagonist in a truly feel-good story.
Familiar Faces Return
When flicking on the television during a golf tournament, most golf fans wouldn't expect to see the faces of Mike Weir, Paul Casey, David Duval, or Martin Kaymer.
All have moved off our radar screens in recent years—some more than others and for more prolonged periods.
Mike Weir finished second at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Paul Casey has made six of eight cuts with five top-25 finishes. David Duval, in a last-ditch effort to regain status this year, has made three of eight cuts and tied for 25th at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Martin Kaymer, of course, won The Players Championship after falling well down the Official World Golf Ranking after losing the top spot three years ago.
Four likable golfers trending upward? Feel-good indeed.
All stats courtesy of PGATour.com.