From Tiger Woods to a new-look PGA Tour schedule, here are the top storylines to keep an eye on in golf in 2019.
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Woods was the biggest story in 2018 as he returned to action following a fourth back surgery and won his first PGA Tour title since 2013. He’ll look to get back in the win column in the majors in 2019. He’s won 14 of them, four shy of Jack Nicklaus’ record, and he’ll play three major venues this year where he’s won before – Augusta National (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005), Pebble Beach (2000) and Bethpage Black (2002). Oh, and he’ll captain – and maybe play on? – the 2019 U.S. Presidents Cup team in Australia this December.
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The Players moves to March. The PGA heads to May. The FedEx Cup Playoffs shrinks to three events and ends before football season. Detroit and Minneapolis get events. The Presidents Cup will be played in December. Yes, 2019 will look really different.
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The simplified Rules of Golf will officially roll out Jan. 1, 2019. The revamped rules are designed to make the rulebook easier to understand and the game more fun to play for all levels. Certain new rules, such as being able to leave in the flagstick on the green, could be exercised quickly on Tour. Even more of them will be used on your average Saturday morning at the local muni.
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For years, Fowler has always been considered one of the best players without a major title. That is true yet again this year. But will Fowler finally break through at the age of 30?
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The 30 players who make it to East Lake this summer will be the first to experience a new staggered scoring format. The FedEx Cup leader will start the playoff finale at 10 under with the rest of the field beginning at least two shots behind depending on the player’s points ranking. Whoever wins the Tour Championship will now also automatically win the FedEx Cup. We’ll see how this goes.
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All this guy does is win majors. He added another U.S. Open title and his first PGA trophy last season, meaning he’s won three of the last seven major championships. Will he continue his major dominance in 2019?
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Spieth ended an otherwise disappointing 2018 on a high note by getting married. But before that, Spieth failed to win a tournament and dropped from No. 2 to 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His putter surprisingly failed time and again, and questions continued to pile up. But after his first winless year since turning pro, Spieth is still only 25 and is currently a co-favorite to win the Masters this April. There’s still plenty of optimism that Spieth can rebound in 2019.
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The 23-year-old Thai golfer is poised to distance herself as the world’s top female golfer. She already has 10 LPGA wins, including two major titles. Expect her to add to both totals this year.
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The Texas A&M product already possesses the fastest swing speed on the PGA Tour. He also isn’t just length, winning his first Tour title last fall. Already the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, Champ could have a big year in 2019 – maybe even big enough to earn a Presidents Cup nod. Also, get this: He’s listed at 50-to-1 odds to win the Masters this April, even though he’s yet to qualify.
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With Johnny Miller signing off this February after 29 years as NBC’s lead golf analyst, Paul Azinger is slated to replace Miller in the broadcast booth.
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With the Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act and allowing states to decide whether or not to make sports betting legal, many expect more than 30 states to have legalized gambling on pro sports by the end of 2019. What does this year look like for a PGA Tour that has already publicly supported legalized betting on its tournaments? It will be interesting to find out.
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While Angela Stanford snapped the Americans’ major drought on the LPGA at the Evian, U.S. players have still won just three of the past 19 women’s major championships. Furthermore, Lexi Thompson, at No. 5, is the only American in the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings and one of only four in the top 25. Will the likes of Thompson, Nelly and Jessica Korda, Danielle Kang and Michelle Wie turn the tide for U.S. women’s golf? And can the Americans make it three straight Solheim Cup victories?
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The Cowboys were ranked No. 1 all of last season and put an exclamation mark on their 2017-18 season with a 5-0 sweep of Alabama in the NCAA championship match at Karsten Creek. Now, can Oklahoma State repeat this spring in Arkansas and become the first back-to-back champion since Augusta State in 2011? And will super sophomore Matthew Wolff add a Haskins Award to his resume?
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The hotshot junior golfer from Wake Forest, N.C., and reigning AJGA Player of the Year won seemingly everything in 2018. Can he add a USGA title to his resume this year? Will he become the first junior since Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers to qualify for the U.S. Walker Cup team? Will he change his mind on not playing college golf?
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