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Nine storylines to watch for 2014

1. Phil Mickelson and the career Grand Slam. Expect every time Lefty tees it up in 2014 that he'll be asked about Pinehurst No. 2, host of the 2014 U.S. Open, and if he can become just the sixth golfer to complete the career Grand Slam.

Have you played there yet? What do you think of the redesign? How do you plan to play the course?

Mickelson said late in 2013 that if a tournament isn't going to help him win that elusive U.S. Open title, where he's finished second a record six times, then it likely won't be on his schedule. It will be interesting to see just where he might cut back with hopes of losing the "always the bridesmaid, never the bride" title at his national championship.

2. Will Tiger's major-less streak end? Going into the 2014 Masters, it will be 22 majors played since Woods kissed one of golf's most cherished trophies. He finished in the top 10 at two majors in 2013, but his well-documented weekend woes in the four biggest tournaments of the year have kept him out of the winner's circle.

What exactly does he need to do to notch that elusive 15th major? Everyone seems to have an opinion. It's his swing. His equipment. His putting. His driving. His confidence. Take your pick. Rest assured, though, Woods will be racking his brain between now and April with the hopes of slipping into a fifth green jacket.

3. Will Tiger surpass Sam Snead's PGA Tour record of all-time wins? By averaging more than four victories per year during his 17 full seasons on the PGA Tour, this one is more of an "if" than a "when" situation. Woods sits at 79 official PGA Tour wins, three shy of Snead's record.

The more difficult prognostication might be in picking which month he'll tie and then break the record.

4. Ryder Cup jockeying. The usual suspects (Woods, Mickelson, etc.) should be there in Scotland come late September, but what about the 2014 version of Vaughn Taylor? We're talking about the guy who absolutely no one expected to be teeing it up at Gleneagles. It will be interesting to see who makes that out-of-nowhere jump into captain Tom Watson's consciousness.

And which golfers will Watson be keeping his eye on this season for his captain's picks? We'll find out the 10 automatic qualifiers after the PGA Championship in August and his wild-card selections just a few weeks after that.

5. Teen takeover? With the likes of Lydia Ko, 16, and Lexi Thompson, 18, tearing it up on the LPGA Tour, will the younger set start to dominate against the "older" crowd of Suzann Pettersen, 32, Stacy Lewis, 28, and Inbee Park, 25, in 2014?

Thompson tore up the tour late in 2013 with a couple of victories, and Ko, who turned pro late in the year, has already cashed her first winner's check. One thing is for sure in the year ahead: The teens will be taking the tour by storm.

6. Belly putter blues? How will the likes of Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley handle the impending doom of the belly putter? Jan. 1, 2016 -- when the anchor ban goes into effect -- will be here before we know it.

Will some of the more famous broomhandle guys make the change this year? It will be interesting to watch which players switch early, which ones start practicing with a shorter flatstick and which hold out until the very end.

7. Back-to-back U.S. Opens. Both the men's and women's version of the U.S. Open will be played at Pinehurst No. 2 in consecutive weeks this June. It's an interesting experiment, but one unlikely to be replicated again anytime soon. The logistical challenges facing the USGA in preparing a golf course to hold major championships in consecutive weeks might prove a little too daunting.

8. Will the LPGA's newest premiere tournament be "crowned" a success? The LPGA Tour launches a new event in 2014 -- the Royal Crown. The tournament attempts to rectify the fact that the Solheim Cup leaves out all Asian players, which make up a major part of the top tier of the women's tour.

With eight countries represented -- Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the United States -- teams will be made up of four players decided by the world rankings as of March 31. The format might take a little getting used to with two four-ball matches against the other three countries in your pool followed by Sunday singles -- if your country qualifies -- but overall it should provide some dramatic golf in late July.

9. No playoff delivery? At the 2013 Tour Championship, several top PGA Tour players grumbled about not enough breaks late in the season. Will those same golfers have similar feelings going into the FedEx Cup playoffs in 2014?

If some big stars do take a week off, much to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem's chagrin, which event will it be? Skip the opener, the Barclays, and play three straight weeks? Or maybe take off the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second event, since there's the short week with the Monday finish on Labor Day?

If players are able to make it to the BMW Championship, for the top 70 in FedEx Cup points, don't except anyone to skip the event that will be held at the memorable Cherry Hills in Colorado.