2014 PGA Tour Year In Review

By The Sports Network Nov. 17, 2014 at 2:54 PM
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The 2014 PGA Tour season had different players in starring roles at different points in the season, and that made for some great action.

In the first-ever wrap-around season, Jimmy Walker won three times between October and February. Patrick Reed won in January and March, while Bubba Watson won his second title of the year at the Masters. Martin Kaymer won the Players Championship and U.S. Open to make his mark on the season.

But, the top player in the world, Rory McIlroy, won three straight starts to put his stamp on an outstanding season. Billy Horschel closed out the campaign winning the final two events of the season and the FedExCup.

They were not the only ones that had strong seasons.

Let's look at who did what in 2014:

PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- RORY MCILROY

With two major championship titles and a World Golf Championship victory, it was easy to pick Rory McIlroy as the Player of the Year.

McIlroy picked up three straight wins at the Open Championship, WGC- Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship. Prior to that run, he had six top-10 finishes.

The Ulsterman shared eighth at the Masters after a disappointing second-round 77. He went 7-over par over the final two rounds at the U.S. Open and fell into a tie for 23rd.

After a missed cut at the European Tour's Irish Open, McIlroy shot par or better in 28 of his next 32 rounds. In his three straight victories, he broke par in all 12 rounds and shot in the 60s in 11 of those 12.

He led the PGA Tour with 12 top-10 finishes (in 17 starts) and tied for third- most top-5 finishes with six. While Jimmy Walker also had three wins in the 2013-14 season, Walker didn't have another top-5 finish.

McIlroy put together a strong statistical year too. He led the PGA Tour in par breakers, scoring average and money earned to name a few categories. He also finished third in driving distance and sixth in greens in regulation percentage.

Put all that together, it's not hard to see why he had on outstanding season.

Walker would have been the clear winner if the Player of the Year award had been handed out in March. The last of his three victories was at Pebble Beach in February.

Among those also considered were two-time winners Billy Horschel, U.S. Open champ Martin Kaymer, Patrick Reed and Masters champion Bubba Watson, while Rickie Fowler had the best season of a non-winner. He was the only player to finish inside the top-5 at all four majors.

TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR -- PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Having won his previous two starts, and owning a 3-shot lead entering the final round of the season's last major, it looked as though Rory McIlroy would cruise to his fourth major championship title.

Heading to the back nine, there was plenty of doubt that would happen as McIlroy had fallen three shots back on the front nine.

After Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler swapped the lead between the seventh and 12th holes, McIlroy rallied with an eagle and two birdies on the inward nine to erase his deficit and win in a second straight major championship.

The battle between McIlroy, Mickelson, Stenson and Fowler was tense enough, and a looming thunderstorm made it even more nervy.

Some thought the officials controlled the last hole as an earlier weather delay pushed the conclusion right up against the sunset. And with dark clouds covering the sunset, the threat of an anticlimactic Monday finish loomed.

McIlroy birdied 17 to move two clear of Mickelson. After a wait on the 18th tee, Mickelson and Fowler allowed McIlroy and Victor Dubuisson to tee off as they walked to their tee shots.

There was much confusion the rest of the way. Mickelson and Fowler hit their second shots to the 18th green and started walking. Officials asked them to again step aside so the final group could hit up.

Mickelson seemed frustrated at having to allow McIlroy's group to hit their second shots. Mickelson missed the green with his second to the par-5 closing hole, but got up and down for birdie to get within one.

McIlroy also missed the green with his second. After chipping on, he 2-putted for the victory as lightning flashed in the not-to-distant sky.

Drama, great action and threatening weather made for an exciting final round.

Also considered were The Honda Classic, which Russell Henley won in a 4-man playoff; the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, where Adam Scott beat Jason Dufner in a playoff; and the Open Championship, where McIlroy held off Sergio Garcia and Fowler.

ROOKIE OF YEAR -- CHESSON HADLEY

It is not every year that a rookie wins on the PGA Tour, but that is exactly what Chesson Hadley did at the Puerto Rico Open.

Though it was played opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship, there was a strong field that included six former majors champions and numerous past PGA Tour winners.

Hadley started that week with a 4-under 68, and that turned out to be his worst round. He followed with a second-round 65 and polished off his first PGA Tour title with back-to-back rounds of 67.

He beat Danny Lee by two strokes. It was one of Hadley's four top-10 finishes on the season.

Hadley tied for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship and share 12th at the BMW Championship. He was the lone rookie to make it to the third FedExCup playoff event in 2014.

Brooks Koepka, Victor Dubuisson, Wes Roach, Will Wilcox and Andrew Loupe were among those that garnered consideration.

GOOD YEAR

- Masters winner Bubba Watson and U.S. Open champ Martin Kaymer both had two wins on the season, including the second major championship title for each.

- Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott won once apiece and tied for the second-most top-10 finishes with 11. Kuchar narrowly missed out on a second win as he lost in a playoff in Houston. Scott finished inside the top 15 at all four majors.

- Jim Furyk could be on the good and bad year lists. He did not win, but had four runner-up finishes and eight top-5 finishes, both of which led the tour. However, he did cough up two 54-hole leads. Dating back to the 2012 season, Furyk has blown his last eight third-round leads.

- Rickie Fowler had six top-5 finishes, four of which came in major championships. He was the only player to finish in the top 5 at all four majors and he tied for third-most top-10s with 10.

- Jimmy Walker matched Rory McIlroy's three wins, but none were of the level of McIlroy. Walker made the cut in all four majors, and finished in the top-10 at three of them. Walker also went 1-1-3 in his first Ryder Cup appearance.

BAD YEAR

- Tiger Woods made just eight starts as he missed significant time after back surgery. His best finish was a tie for 25th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Woods played in the final two majors after missing the first two and he was over par in four of his five rounds in those two events.

- Phil Mickelson finished second at the PGA Championship, but that was his lone top-10 on the PGA Tour in 2014. Mickelson was not a factor in the other three majors.

- Mike Weir's struggles continued as he made just nine cuts in 25 starts. The former Masters champion did card four rounds in the 60s en route to a second- place finish at the Byron Nelson Championship, but his next-best finish was a tie for 44th at the Masters.

- Padraig Harrington made seven cuts in 16 PGA Tour starts. The three-time majors champion's best finish was a share of 22nd at the Byron Nelson. He finished 192nd on the money list.

[SportsNetwork.com]

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