The LINKS crystal golf ball has been consulted. From Tiger getting back on Jack’s track to another Ryder Cup rout, here are our Top 10 predictions for 2014.
Mr. Woods turned 38 on Dec. 30. He’s on his fourth golf swing. The putts don’t drop like they used to. But true love conquers all. Thanks to a settled home life with skier Lindsey Vonn, who retires after the Sochi Winter Olympics to caddy for Tiger, Woods picks up his 15th and 16th majors at the Masters and the PGA Championship at Valhalla, but they part ways when she catches him cheating—on the course.
Sergio Garcia and Brandel Chamblee co-host a new show on Golf Channel, “Mea Culpa,” where they mediate disputes and facilitate apologies to anyone in the industry looking for a forum. First guest: Dustin Johnson who storms off the course in frustration at the AT&T National Pro-Am and goes on a Twitter rant because of the pace of play.
Many felt the USGA was crazy to stage the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open championships in back-to-back weeks on Pinehurst’s vaunted No. 2 Course, but both events come off flawlessly despite the heat with Phil Mickelson finally getting redemption for his record six runner-up finishes and American darling Paul Creamer finally winning again for the first time since the 2010 Women’s Open at Oakmont. Still determined to play in a men’s major, Michelle Wie becomes the first women to qualify for the U.S. Open but has to withdraw midway through the first round because of heat stroke.
An unknown 12-year-old South Korean school girl, trained by her father from birth, comes from out of nowhere to eclipse 16-year-old Lydia Ko at the LPGA’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, then asks for her autograph afterward. “I’ve looked up to Ms. Ko since I was a kid,” she says.
Trump at the Dump
Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx, N.Y., debuts as the most expensive municipal golf course ever conceived (more than $100 million). The project, dating back over 60 years, revolves around a remediated brownfield, the design vision of Jack Nicklaus, and the political wiles of Donald Trump, who won a bid to operate the facility. Stretching to 7,365 yards, the treeless, links-style course, offers stellar views of Manhattan’s skyline. At a soft opening in July, Trump, his copious blond locks tousled by the sea breeze, pronounces Ferry Point “the greatest course ever built.”
Less Is More
Steve Stricker was so pleased by his success in semi-retirement in 2013, posting 11 top-25s in just 13 events, that he decides to retire completely. He still manages to record five top-10 finishes and qualify for the Ryder Cup.
To pay back the USGA for its sudden decision to end its 20-year partnership with NBC as the broadcaster of its championships in favor of Fox, the peacock network mounts a single camera behind the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2 for the U.S. Open. Instead of HD coverage of every hole, viewers are treated to a grainy, black-and-white telecast of the 18th.
The National Golf Foundation once again has the sad duty of informing the industry that participation levels in 2014 trended slightly downward. Golf is a great game, but fewer and fewer Americans believe so. The 4.7 million golfers lost since 2005 are proof. On the other hand, golf video gamers outnumber actual golfers nearly two to one so there is hope if the NGF can just get people off the couch.
Going back to his old Titleist clubs and balls, the former world No. 1 returns to major form and wins the Open Championship at Hoylake, leading to a lawsuit from Nike. “Get in line,” he tells them, alluding to his legal woes with his former agency.
Staged at Gleneagles, the lavish resort in the foothills of the Scottish Highlands, the 40th Ryder Cup Matches are a rout. With Europe up 12-4 after Saturday’s play and no way to lose the Cup, the team gets so “pissed” that night that all the players forfeit their matches save for bugged-eye Ian Poulter who beats Tiger on the 22nd hole in a kilt and knee socks.