Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf. This is the season-ending edition, looking at the 2014 golf year in its entirety.
Rory (+10%): Remember that pudgy lad with the moptop? He’s been transformed into the ripped badass who pummeled courses with his aerial assault and put the golf world in a full nelson.
Lydia Ko (+9%): How dispiriting it must be for the LPGA elite, losing to a 17-year-old kid who over the next few years will only get bigger, stronger and better. Godspeed.
Rickie (+8%): Until this year he was known mostly for his wild hair, motocross background and flashy outfits. Now, he’s recognized as the third player in history to post top 5s in all four majors in the same season, though he’s the only one without a W. He can’t take a back seat to Rory forever ... right?
LPGA (+7%): Stacy Lewis swept the season-ending awards, Lydia Ko won the year-long race, Michelle Wie captured that elusive major and Cheyenne Woods earned her tour card. So, Mike Whan, about that encore ...
P-Reed (+6%): He’s bold, brash and, best of all, better than a lot of PGA Tour players. Not quite top 5, but he’ll get there sooner than later.
Jordan Spieth (+5%): At 21, the kid had almost become underappreciated before this torrid run around the globe. Seriously, folks: Tiger reached three pro wins only four months faster. Monster things are ahead.
Good Bubba (+4%): More than just a brainless basher, Watson won three times on three decidedly different courses. Assuming he’s still motivated, he could be a factor at Augusta for the next, oh, 15 years.
BillyHo (+3%): His late-season surge wasn’t enough to save the U.S. Ryder Cup team, for which he should be grateful. Just imagine Horschel watching that disaster while sitting on his couch made from stacks of dollar bills.
R&A (+2%): Hey, welcome to the 21s ... nah, 20th century!
Martin Kaymer (+1%): It’s easy to forget just how impressive he was in May and June. He won more big-time titles in six weeks than some accomplished players do over an entire career.
Stock Watch: Who will rise and fall in 2015?
Adam Scott’s reign at No. 1 (-1%): And oh, what a glorious 11 weeks they were. Thanks to Rory and Co., it’s possible, maybe even probable, that Scott never reaches that pinnacle again.
Sneds (-2%): During last year’s FedEx Cup playoffs, one of the best putters on the planet was ranked No. 7 in the world. Now, he’s dropped outside the top 50, after a miserable year in which he changed instructors and hit it all over the map. He’ll be back. We think.
Social media (-3%): Geez, who is advising these guys, Steve Elkington? The year was chock-full of foot-in-mouth moments, and we were more than happy to document each and every one of them.
Bad Bubba (-4%): By now the fans’ battle lines are clearly drawn: You either think the guy is a titanium-denting, ball-shaping, crowd-pleasing magician, or you think he’s a foolish, petulant phony who takes pleasure in berating his caddie. That he’s probably a little bit of both makes him one of the game’s most fascinating characters.
Old Guard (-5%): Tiger got hurt. Phil’s play was uninspired. Steve Stricker all but disappeared. And Jim Furyk continued to find ways to lose with 54-hole leads. Sorry, aging warriors, but battling the Rorys, Rickies and Jordans of the world sure won’t be getting any easier, either.
Dustin Johnson (-6%): Depending on which side you believe, the immensely talented but maddeningly immature star either got popped for a third drug test or took a voluntary leave of absence. Either way, he squandered what was shaping up to be a career year, with a win, two runners-up and $4.2 million in earnings. Speaking of which ...
PGA Tour (-7%): The Tour thinks not disclosing player discipline protects sponsors and fans from learning that its players are indeed fallible. Really, though, the antiquated stance forces everyone involved to perpetuate lies. P.R. blundering at its finest.
Team USA (-8%): Look, the Americans were always going to lose at Gleneagles – Europe was loaded. But the U.S. team didn’t just lose in a rout. It also undermined the captain and then blew up the system to create a hilariously unnecessary task force, which was just about the most American thing ever.
Tom Watson (-9%): His legacy isn’t tarnished forever, of course, but the 65-year-old’s ill-fated reign as U.S. Ryder Cup captain will go down as arguably the worst ever. Everyone figured his tough-guy act wouldn’t fly with coddled millionaires. Fortunately for us media types, it was even worse than anticipated.
Ted Bishop (-10%): The self-styled maverick did a lot of good, but in short order his Watson experiment went up in flames, as did his tenure as PGA president, after hitting publish on a sexist tweet directed at Ian Poulter. There’s a reason no one can recall the 37 PGA presidents who preceded him, but until the bitter end Bishop loved the platform, the celebrity and the spotlight. No more.