Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf. Because this is the season-ending Stock Watch, we’re looking at 2013 in its entirety.
Henrik Stenson (+10%): An ascent that began last November culminated a year later with the man-machine claiming the end-of-season prizes on both sides of the pond. Now the third-ranked player in the world, he’s catapulted himself to the top of the list of Best Players Without a Major.
Adam Scott (+8%): Late Masters Sunday notwithstanding, he still isn’t quite the cold-blooded closer that we’d like to see. But with four wins worldwide and a sweet swing that appears indestructible, he’ll be Tiger’s most consistent competition over the next few years.
Jordan Spieth (+7%): Don’t forget how this 20-year-old began 2013 – with a sponsor's exemption at Torrey Pines. Now, he’s closing out his year at Tiger’s tournament, after a storybook season that included a win, three runners-up, five other top-10s, a spot on the Presidents Cup team and nearly $4 million in earnings. Stud.
Inbee Park (+6%): Her late-season skid took some shine off her dazzling Player of the Year campaign, but in early August, Park was vying to become the first player, male or female, to win four majors in a single season. ’Twas an incredible run.
Lydia Ko (+5%): The two-time LPGA winner joined the play-for-pay ranks, which means the 16-year-old is now able to get paid for routinely beating down her older and more seasoned peers.
Lexi Thompson (+3%): Finally cashed in on her considerable talent with two wins in five weeks late in the season. If she continues to make short-game strides with coach Jim McLean, this teen could turn into a world-beater by next fall.
Tiger Woods (+2%): In this scribe’s book: Winning five top-tier events and returning to No. 1 outshines multiple rules flaps and another major-less season. How this year will impact his legacy remains to be seen, however.
Jason Dufner (+2%): From the Dufnerning phenomenon to the PGA win to the wife butt-grab to his unwavering devotion to Auburn football, he has joined the short list of golfers who can go by just one name: Duf.
U.S. Solheim Cup team (-2%): The Americans were embarrassed in Colorado as Team Europe retained the cup for the first time, won their first-ever match on foreign soil, and produced the largest margin of victory in event history. Maybe in 2015 they’ll sport face tattoos of the final score – 18-10.
Rory McIlroy (-3%): Yes, his victory at the Australian Open was huge, not just for Rory but for golf. But it doesn’t salvage what was a largely miserable year that included embarrassing excuses, tabloid rumors, messy court battles and, most troubling, sloppy play.
Wraparound schedule (-5%): To paraphrase a since-fired NFL coach, the PGA Tour’s start to the 2013-14 season was what we thought it was – the Fall Series, rebranded. The lack of star power and clumsy separation of seasons/years only added to the confusion for casual fans.
Vijay Singh (-6%): Wins an appeal, then sues the PGA Tour anyway. He’s no longer relevant on the big Tour, but, hey, give the guy credit for going down swinging.
Anchoring (-7%): It was announced this year that the method will be banned, but not until 2016, leaving a bevy of anchorers, world No. 2 Scott included, to toil in three years of awkwardness.
Sergio Garcia (-8%): The month of May was Sergio’s career in sum – ball-striking wizardry, boneheaded comments and ultimately unsatisfying results.
USGA (-9%): The ridiculous mid-am rule for the Walker Cup. The anchoring mess. The over-the-top U.S. Open setup. The hollow pace-of-play campaign. The ill-timed Fox announcement. The video rule that may or may not have been a reaction to the Tiger incident. The reports of infighting. So, coming in 2014: The New-and-Improved USGA, Presented by the PR Department.
Controversy (-10%): Quite possibly the most ungentlemanly year in the sport’s history … but, looking back, it was kind of fun, no?
Phil Mickelson: Won the major that, a few years ago, he never could have anticipated. He’d likely trade the Open, however, for two wedge re-dos at Merion.
Ted Bishop: The brash boss has no shortage of bold ideas, but he’ll need more than gusto and guts to bring meaningful change to the PGA of America.
Steve Stricker: The nicest man in golf gave hope to 40-somethings everywhere who want to scale back their schedule and spend more time with their family, but his major clock races ever faster now.
Parity: For every Tiger there was a Derek Ernst or Michael Thompson, for every Phil a Scott Brown or Sang-moon Bae. Welcome to the winners’ lounge.
Major-less drought: Five years and counting for the world’s No. 1 player, whose struggles include just two under-par scores in his last 16 weekend rounds at the majors.