- Clubbing Down
Predicting 2014's major winnersWill TideyAugust 12, 2013
Eight months in a warm glow await Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Jason Duffner, golf's four major winners of 2013.
Three of their successes will be told as redemption stories. Scott's Masters triumph to erase the memory of his 2012 Open collapse, Duffner's US PGA win to cleanse his 2011 play-off loss, and Mickelson's Muirfield miracle the reprieve to yet more US Open misery.
Rose's win, while it came at 32, was more of a revealing than a redeeming. The Englishman had yet to suffer a majors meltdown. He was playing to make good on his promise, and make good he did.
Three first-time winners, one mercurial Mickelson deftly playing his way into the corridors of greatness. That was 2013, but what might 2014 have in store for us at the majors? Here are my early predictions.
1. Adam Scott will retain the Masters
Tiger Woods, in 2002, was the last player to successfully retain the green jacket. Scott can be the next. Based on his hugely impressive Masters win and his remarkable consistency at the majors over the last two years - he has finished seven of eight inside the top 20 - Scott is looking like a man who won't stop at one. I say he wins in April.
2. Pinehurst will throw up a classic
The US Open returns to North Carolina's Pinehurst resort in 2014, where a revamped No. 2 course will ask every question possible of the assembled field. Tiger Woods finished runner-up to Michael Campbell there in 2005, while a young Mickelson was second to Payne Stewart in 1999.
I'm going bold here. I think we'll see a battle of the generations unfold - with Mickelson seeking to complete a career grand slam down the stretch against a refocused Rory McIlroy, whose all-round game will rise to the challenge. Phil's experience to out, just.
3. Tiger finally gets back on the horse
The last time The Open visited Royal Liverpool, Tiger celebrated an emotional victory dedicated to the passing of his father Earl. He finished at 18 under for four rounds and was at his dominant best.
He'll have his wobbles en route to July, but I think another barren year will serve him well in preparing for next year's majors. His body is getting healthier; his mind still needs work. Royal Liverpool could be the coming out party for Tiger 2.0. I'm predicting a five-shot victory.
4. Jason Day will join the club
The US PGA Championship lands at Valhalla in 2014, scene of the 2008 Ryder Cup. The US won that one, but I'm backing an Australian to break through and take glory's last shot in Kentucky.
Jason Day has arguably been the most impressive young player at the majors this year. His T8 at the US PGA made it three top 10s from four and the 25-year-old will surely win one before too long. Valhalla will suit his long driving and Australia will claim its second major champion of the season.