This list is a collection of golfers who have the capability to turn some heads this year. Some are ranked near the top in the Official World Golf Rankings and still searching for a major championship victory while others are just working at making a name for themselves on tour. The ten golfers here are all ones to watch this season, either for their world rankings to improve or for the weight of a majorless career to be lifted from their shoulders.
10. Jordan Spieth, 2013 earnings: $3,879,000
While his performance in major championships last year was not something to shout about, Jordan Spieth has proven himself to be a contender in big stage tournaments. He beat out Zach Johnson at the John Deere Classic to take home $828,000 and his first PGA tour victory. He will likely be a more significant contender in the 2014 major championships. Spieth is currently ranked 16 in the world at just 20 years old and the future looks bright for this young golfer.
9. Graham DeLaet, 2013 earnings: $2,834,000
The Canadian has been quietly creeping up the world ranking after posting seven top ten finishes on the PGA tour last year. DeLaet’s performance in majors is unproven as of yet, and last year he only made the cut at the Open Championship. At 32, he is not as young as some of the new guys bursting on to the scene, but the world number 34 has certainly been starting to make his name known. This year could be the year for his first PGA tour victory as he has already finished in the top ten in three of his first four tournaments
8. Billy Horschel, 2013 earnings, $3,500,000
2013 was a busy season for Billy Horschel as he played in 26 events and made the cut in all but four of them. This great season included taking home his first PGA tour title at TPC Louisiana in the Zurich Classic where he took home just under $1.2 million bucks for his efforts. Although he only made the cut in one of the three major championships he played in last year, the US Open at Merion where he finished in fourth place. Horschel also managed to collect several top ten finishes and rounded out a consistent record for his 2013 season. He proved to himself last year that he is capable of winning tournaments and this year could be the one that sees him jump a few more spots up the world ranking from where he currently sits at 40th.
7. Thorbjørn Olesen, 2013 earnings: $713,000
While he did not play in quite as many tournaments on the PGA tour as some of the other guys on this list, but the 24-year-old Thørbjorn Olesen was quietly consistent in making over 50 percent of his cuts. He kept this record intact in the Majors last year, of which he played all four and made the cut in both the PGA Championship and the Masters where he finished in 6th. While Olesen has tasted victory on the European tour, he has yet to do so on the PGA tour. If he continues his level of consistency from the 2013 season, he could pose a real threat to some of the big names and start to see his world ranking improve dramatically as he is currently ranked 60th in the world.
6. David Lingmerth, 2013 earnings: $1,750,000
Lingmerth is a name that might not be as well known as a few of the others on this list, and yet he still managed to rake in $1.75 million in prize money last year alone. While his great performances were often sporadic, as he made less than half of his cuts, the tournaments that he played well in gave him a few huge paydays. He finished second to Tiger last year at The Players at Sawgrass where he took home just over $700,000 and also finished in the top ten at the Greenbrier. Although Lingmerth has so far only seen victory on the Web.com Tour, he has proven that on occasions, he can string together four dangerous rounds and put pressure on the big names. While he currently sits outside the top 100, ranked #121, a few top ten finishes in 2014 could see that change fast.
5. Lee Westwood, 2013 earnings: $2,080,000
Lee Westwood is the first of the Englishmen on this list who are here for one reason and one reason only – they have not won a major championship yet. Lee is one of a handful of great English golfers who, statistically, should have won a major long ago. At 40 years old, Westwood probably tops the list of the greatest golfers never to have tasted major championship glory. While 2013 was not exactly a banner year for Westwood, as he finished without a win, he did finish in the top ten at both the Masters and the Open Championship. He showed consistency in the majors, as he made the cut in all four and consistency would really be the best way to sum up a season that only saw him miss one cut. The fact that last year was not amazing, and that his fellow countryman Justin Rose managed to break through and win his first major, could spur Lee on this year to make the jump and take home major glory. For a player who strikes the ball as well as Lee, it has always seemed like it would only be a matter of time and 2014 could be that time. Lee is currently ranked 26th in the world.
4. Ian Poulter, 2013 Earnings: $1,700,000
Everyone seems to know Poulter recently for his outstanding performances at the Ryder Cup. His string of birdies at the last Ryder Cup can still be considered one of the catalysts for Europe’s epic comeback to retain the trophy. The fact is, Poulter has been around for years, and like Westwood, has yet to break through and win his first major championship. Graeme McDowell proved at Pebble Beach in the 2010 US Open that you don’t necessarily need to be a huge hitter to compete in all major championships. Poulter, like McDowell, shows consistency with his irons and consistency in fairways in regulation as well as finding the green. If his putter stays hot, Poulter is dangerous. Like Westwood, the fact that Justin Rose showed that Brits can be a force to be reckoned with in the majors, Poulter may just have that extra drive in 2014 to make the jump. He made all but one of the cuts in the majors last year and finished third at the Open Championship at Muirfield behind Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson. Poulter sits just outside the top ten at the moment, where he is ranked as the world number 12.
3. Henrik Stenson, 2013 earnings: $6,400,000 (Excluding FedEx Cup Title Winnings)
It seems odd to have Henrik Stenson on this list for golfers to watch out for in 2014 as he did so well last year, but Stenson has yet to break through that Major Championship barrier. After making the cut in all four Majors last year and finishing in second to Phil Mickelson at Muirfield, Stenson went on to win the FedEx Cup and prove that he certainly belongs in the top five golfers in the world. At 37, he is one of the older golfers on the list, but after a disappearance of a few years in the middle of his career, he is a comparative newbie on the tour. He’s making up for lost time and he spent last year marking his territory and proving that he can be a winner. He won two tournaments on the PGA tour last year and got a win in Europe, but must have felt as though second place was his territory until he finished his season atop the FedEx cup points list. The second place at Muirfield might just spark some real desire in him to take home major glory in 2014. He is currently the world number 3.
2. Sergio Garcia, 2013 earnings: $2,250,000
Sergio Garcia seems to be so much older than 34 when you look at his history on the PGA tour. He is one of those guys who seems to have been around forever and always hovers around the top ranked players in the world. He is back in the top ten of the world rankings and currently sits at 9th. Having stated in interviews in the past few years that he simply does not know how to win a major championship, it is clear that Garcia has the tools in the bag to get it done, but just can’t break through. 2013 was a good year overall for Sergio despite not winning any tournaments. He finished well at the Masters with a top ten and made the cut at all the other major tournaments. It looked as though he may have been able to press Tiger Woods a little at The Players but walked away with an 8th place finish when all was said and done. Sergio has the history and the experience to always be considered a threat in major championships and 2014 should be no different, provided he doesn’t end up playing too many shots from literally “out of the trees.”
1. Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2013 earnings: $491,000
He has been dubbed “the most interesting man in golf” for various reasons, but it cannot be argued that Jimmy is a contender in the big stage events. While last year’s earnings do not reflect how dangerous of a player Miguel Angel Jimenez is, his world ranking is still comfortably inside the top 50 at number 38 and he played considerably fewer tournaments than most of the big names. Maybe it’s the cigar or the signature pre-game warm up that gets him ready for a round, but 2014 could be a good year for the 50-year-old Jimenez. Although he only played in two of the four major championships last year, he made the cut in both and finished with a very respectable 13th place at the Open Championship. It seems to always be the case on Thursday and Friday in the Majors that his name is on the first page of the leader board. If he can keep up the consistent play in 2014, his name might well be there come Sunday. Darren Clarke proved that the older guys can still be a threat in the majors; it could be Jimmy’s turn this year.
Unfortunately for the guys who are still searching for their first major title, there simply aren’t enough to go around. So some of them, if not all of them, will end up disappointed. For guys like Westwood and especially Jimenez, the clock really is ticking. As we have seen though in the last few years of major championships, if Tiger is not playing his best, anyone can win.
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