Altvater: Top 5 golf stories to watch in 2013Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
2012 was a fantastic year for golf fans and 2013 promises more of the same. Here are the Top 5 stories to watch this year.
No. 5 Will Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter or Justin Rose win a major?
Luke Donald and Lee Westwood have both spent time at the No. 1 spot in the world golf rankings but neither have a major championship on their résumé.
Both are threats to win every time they tee it up but a lack of a major championship title severely damages how their careers are viewed.
Fellow Englishmen Ian Poulter and Justin Rose also are at the point of their careers when a major is a necessity. Poulter always seems to raise his game and becomes unbeatable at the Ryder Cup. He is ranked No. 12 on the Official World Golf Rankings, has 12 European Tour wins and two PGA Tour wins.
Rose has moved up to No. 4 in the world and has been steadily improving his game over the past few seasons. A win at the 2012 WGC-Cadillac, as well as, top-10 finishes in the Masters and the PGA Championship demonstrate that Rose is close to hoisting major hardware.
No.4 PGA Tour’s shortened season
The 2013 PGA Tour season will end with the Tour Championship, Sept. 19-22. Tour pros will feel the pressure to make the Top 125 and qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs to retain their full PGA Tour status for the 2014 season.
Players that are ranked No. 125-175 on the PGA Tour this season will find it difficult to get into tournaments. When they are able to play it is important that they make cuts and earn prize money.
Tournaments after the FedEx Cup Playoffs are now part of the 2014 season and Q-School will only offer exemption onto the Web.com Tour.
Will there be some big names that struggle throughout the year or suffer injuries that may get bounced down to the Web.com next year?
No. 3 Will the USGA and The R&A enact the “anchored stroke” rule change?
The USGA and The R&A announced a proposed rule change to ban the “anchored stroke” at the beginning of 2016. They have set off a huge discussion in the media about the use of the belly and long putter.
Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, and Ernie Els all won majors using an anchored putting stroke. Many professional golfers have been using the long putters for several years and to ban them now seems to be a severe hindrance in their ability to earn a living.
The proposed rule change is currently in a 90-day period when the USGA and The R&A are listening to arguments pro and con on the issue.
Will these ruling bodies follow through and permanently ban the use of the “anchored stroke”?
No 2 Will Tiger Woods win a major in 2013?
Injuries, personal problems and swing changes have prevented Woods from winning a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He rebounded to win three events in 2012 and his game seems to be improving every week. Although he did not have a good record in the majors last year he did have some highlights. He was just not able to post good scores on the weekends.
Tiger turned 37 years old at the end of December and time is becoming a factor in his quest to surpass Jack Nicklaus in the number of career major titles.
No. 1 Can Rory McIlroy sustain his No. 1 status?
Rory McIlroy had four wins in 2012 including the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in August. He ascended to the No. 1 spot on the OWGR after his win at the Honda in March and finished the year strong with two of his wins coming in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
McIlroy’s highly publicized romance with gal-pal Caroline Wozniacki also adds intrigue to the McIlroy allure in the media.
Two majors in the last two years, leading money earner on both the European and PGA Tours, beautiful talented girlfriend, and the best player in the world right now all make him the best story in golf for 2013.