With the 2013 PGA Tour season in the books, we naturally look ahead to 2013-14, the Tour’s first wraparound schedule. The fall still figures to be light on the big names making appearances, but it’s never too early to highlight players to watch.
Tiger Woods – No explanation needed, but we’ll give one. He returned to world No. 1 in 2013, and with some Tiger-friendly venues on the schedule for 2013-14, we envision a return to being a major winner.
Rory McIlroy – He started 2013 at No. 1 in the world but didn’t record a win all season, his first with Nike. Now that a year with new clubs and new expectations is behind him, hopefully McIlroy can get back to making good on those lofty outlooks.
Adam Scott – The best player in the four majors last year, Scott ended the year at No. 2 in the world. With Tiger’s old caddie on his bag, he’s giving Tiger a run for his money as the world’s best golfer. Can he win another major before Tiger?
Jordan Spieth – He failed to earn his 2013 PGA Tour card in qualifying school, but took matters into his own hands by playing so well with sponsor exemptions that he eventually earned it by winning a tournament before turning 20. Now, after capping the season with strong performances in the FedExCup playoffs and Presidents Cup, Spieth has to raise a bar he already set pretty high.
Henrik Stenson – At No. 4 in the world after winning the $10 million FedExCup, Stenson’s been here before. But after reaching this level in 2009, he dropped to No. 230 two years later. Stenson not only wants to win his first major, he wants to remain among the world’s elite.
Matt Kuchar – Another man who is due for a major is Kuchar, who finished 2013 third on the money list behind Woods and Stenson. He made the cut at all four majors this past season, but didn’t finish higher than eighth. That came at the Masters, where he tied for third in 2012, his best career result at a major.
Steve Stricker – If there’s one guy we want to win a major, though, it might be Stricker. The best the 46-year-old has ever done is runner-up at the 1998 PGA Championship. He cut back on his schedule last year (only 13 official PGA Tour events) to spend more time with his family, but still was third in the FedExCup standings and seventh on the money list. Stricker’s still got it in him.
Graham DeLaet – The Canadian was one of the few bright spots for the International team at the Presidents Cup, capping his best season as a pro. He began 2013 ranked No. 178 and finished at No. 32. At one point in 2012, DeLaet was 614th. Now he aims to maintain that stellar form.
Chris Williams – He was the world’s top-ranked amateur until he turned pro in June and debuted at the Travelers Championship. Williams tied for 30th at that event, but missed the cut at two of his next three PGA Tour events, and didn’t fare too well in two Web.com Tour appearances. But he’s got some sponsor exemptions his pocket this year, including at the season-opening Frys.com Open this week, so he’ll look to make a Spieth-like run to a PGA Tour card this year.