Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Tiger (+9%): Five months after saying he was unsure about his future, and four starts into his comeback, Woods has already recorded his best finish since 2013. That it has all come together so quickly is exciting, inspiring, surprising and, yes, a bit surreal.
Paul Casey (+7%): His Valspar breakthrough was a long time coming – he had 22 top-5s on Tour between his two titles – and surely a welcome sight to Thomas Bjorn. Now 40, Casey is playing some of the best golf of his career.
Tiger Effect (+5%): The final round of the Valspar Championship – normally a lower-tier Tour event – out-rated all but one of the 2017 majors, big-time events won by three of the game’s best young talents, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. That doesn’t bode well for golf’s future, but hey, let’s enjoy the present.
Martin Trainer (+3%): A wild route to the winner’s circle for the latest champion on the Web.com Tour: He played a Sunday qualifier, earned the final spot in the field and then held on to win. The definition of a life-changing victory.
New rules (+1%): Now that the USGA has finalized the rulebook – and we’re in favor of many of the changes, including no penalty for a moved ball, banning caddie assist with alignment and allowing players to tap down spike marks – it can turn its full attention to that pesky distance problem.
Sam Burns (-1%): The Snake Pit bit the promising up-and-comer, who needed a high finish to secure special temporary status for the rest of the season. Instead, he played the final three holes in 4 over, dropping into a tie for 12th, and will look to earn the necessary points this week at Bay Hill.
Sneds (-2%): The Tour should institute a new rule that keeps Woods and Snedeker apart for the rest of the season. They’ve already played together five (!) times, and Snedeker’s Sunday 78 cost him a spot in the Match Play and, possibly, the Masters.
Spieth’s putting (-3%): He can’t get comfortable with his setup … which makes us very uncomfortable with the Masters now only three weeks away.
Presidents Cup timing (-4%): Tiger and Phil are back in the mix, a world-class field returns to pay homage to Arnold Palmer, the Masters is only a few weeks away … and so the Tour decides to make an announcement regarding the two captains for an event that is 18 months away? Buzzkill.
Rory (-6%): Those four months off were supposed to cure all of McIlroy’s ails, but now he looks as far away from his best as he’s ever looked. Oy.