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Keep eye on Pettersen at '14 majors

12/24/2013 - Golf

The 2013 season on the LPGA Tour likely will go down as one for the ages, as we might never see anyone win the first three majors of the year like Inbee Park accomplished.

So can anyone challenge Park's historic run? And what's in store for 2014?

Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.

1. Which 2013 LPGA major winner has the best shot to repeat in 2014?

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: How many majors are there next year, 12 or 14? Seriously, though, Suzann Pettersen will win another major in 2014. She's got all the tools and now wants to get to No. 1 in the world.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Pettersen. After Inbee Park controlled the narrative of the women's game for much of the year with three consecutive major wins, the 32-year-old Norwegian had three victories late in the year, including the Evian Championship, her second career major championship.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Park. If she could win three in one year -- three in a row -- why can't she win the same ones again? She certainly has the demeanor and the game for major championships.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Pettersen (although Stacy Lewis is a close second). Pettersen's win at the Evian came in the year's fifth major, but I wouldn't be shocked if her game peaked earlier, like at the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

2. Fact or fiction: Lydia Ko wins in her first year as a pro.

Collins: Fact. Of course, that's a trick question because she already has her first win as a pro. Here's a fact: Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, Ko will have a minimum of four more wins on her résumé.

Evans: Fact. Ko is already one of the 10 best female golfers in the world.

Harig: Fact. She already has a pro victory, but once she gets into the routine of playing full time on the LPGA Tour, it is difficult to envision her not winning. She has already won five professional events.

Maguire: Fact. There's nothing in her game that says she won't continue to win at this level, especially because she owns a pair of LPGA Tour wins as an amateur. The key for Ko, though, will be to start fast and play well early. That way, the added of pressure of not playing great once she gets into the heart of the season will be significantly less.

3. After Inbee Park's three major wins in 2013, which player has the best shot to repeat that dream season in 2014?

Collins: No one. Years like that don't happen often for a reason: Winning a major is really hard. Winning two in the same season is herculean; winning three is almost impossible. The media crush that happened after Park won major No. 3 would start if someone won the first two. That on its own would prevent No. 3 from happening.

Evans: Pettersen had three top-5s, a win and a missed cut in the five 2013 majors. She is the best-equipped player on the women's circuit to have that kind of season. Her talent, experience and work ethic put her well ahead of all but a handful of her peers.

Harig: Pettersen. She always seems on the verge of big things, and we started to see some of that in the latter half of 2013. There is a good chance that Pettersen gets on a roll and rattles off a bunch of majors.

Maguire: It's highly unlikely anyone -- male or female -- will win three majors in a season, much less in a row. If forced to pick one name, though, I'd go with Pettersen. As one of the best ball strikers in the women's game, if that putter gets going, watch out.

4. Thumbs up or thumbs down to the U.S. Women's Open being played at the same venue, and the following week, as the U.S. Open?

Collins: Thumbs up, with an asterisk. They should be playing it the week before the men instead of the week after. I'm thinking that dialing back a course is much trickier than toughening one up. The USGA isn't giving itself much wiggle room doing it this way.

Evans: Thumbs up. It can be a great thing for the women's game if the fans hang around in large numbers after the completion of the men's U.S. Open. It could help bring a buzz to the Women's Open that's been absent for many years. But if the fans abandon Pinehurst after the men are done, it could represent an unneeded symbol of the huge gap in popularity between the men's and women's games.

Harig: Thumbs down. When it was first announced, the idea seemed really cool. But now that it is closer, I wonder how it is going to come off. The crowds will be smaller for the Women's Open, the course not pristine after the men -- and spectators -- trounce around Pinehurst for a week. What if there is a Monday playoff for the men? What if it rains like at Merion and the course becomes a mess? There is a great potential for a less-than-satisfying week for the best women's tournament.

Maguire: Thumbs down. I highly question whether the USGA can get the course in playable shape for a major championship just days after a men's major is played on the same venue. It's an interesting, quirky thing, but I can't imagine it will work out too well for the women.