Time for some major forecasting in '14

And will top pros change majors prep to land a victory?

Updated: December 27, 2013, 8:38 AM ET
ESPN.com

The depth in golf tournaments these days is the strongest it's ever been. So what youngster owns the skill set to take one of golf's Grand Slam events?

And of the four major champs of 2013, who looks like he has the best shot at repeating a major feat in 2014?

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

1. Give us a player younger than 30 who you think could break through with a major win in 2014.


Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Dustin Johnson. He makes it through Q-school in the winter of 2007 and has at least one win every season since. That includes 2013-14 -- hello, HSBC Champions. He's got eight wins total and he doesn't turn 30 until June. I'll wait for you to find someone younger than 30 who's major-less but can beat that résumé. Still waiting ...

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Everyone should pick Jordan Spieth for this question. He will contend at all four majors and win one in heroic fashion.

[+] EnlargeJason Day
AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillAustralian Jason Day owns five top-10s in major championships in just 13 starts, including three second-place finishes.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Dustin Johnson. Okay, so Johnson turns 30 in June, but he already has eight PGA Tour victories, capturing a WGC title in China in the fall. He's contended strongly in a couple of majors and won two FedEx Cup playoff events. The surprise is he hasn't won more with all his talent, and achieving some consistency seems to be the next step, along with a major.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Jason Day. The Aussie who resides in Ohio finished with three top-10 finishes at the 2013 majors and possesses a short game that can extricate him from many a jam on those difficult Grand Slam venues.

2. Which major-less American will bust out this season and nab one like Jason Dufner did at the PGA Championship?


Collins: Brandt Snedeker. The putter is fearless and deadly like a teenager, while the mind is mature beyond his years. This time when he gets near the lead, he'll grab it and hold on to it.

Evans: Matt Kuchar will win his first major in 2014. He's had a tie for third and a tie for eighth, respectively, in his last two Masters. He does everything right on the golf course and now in his fifth year of playing all four of the majors, he's got the routine down for how to handle his emotions during those pressure-packed weeks.

Harig: Brandt Snedeker. The 2012 FedEx Cup champ has established himself as a solid player and winner. If he can avoid injuries -- which seemed to get in the way of what would have been a really strong 2013 -- a major appears logical.

Maguire: Brandt Snedeker. Don't be surprised if the affable Vanderbilt product does it at the Masters, too. He's finished inside the top-20 in his last four starts at Augusta National, and that doesn't even count his tearful T-3 in 2008.

3. Fact or fiction: Elite-level PGA Tour players will start to cut back their schedules after the successes of Adam Scott at the Masters.


Collins: Fact but ... players might cut back their PGA Tour schedule, but I expect there to be a few more guys taking a few starts on the European Tour for the appearance fee checks. The success Steve Stricker and Adam Scott had will work for a few, but look for the guys it backfires on to have a heavy schedule at the end of the year.

Evans: Fiction. Players won't cut back their schedules to simply conform to popular conventions around the tour. Some players need to play often to perform consistently. Scott only made the decision to cut back after he got to a point in his career where he felt he didn't need to play 25 to 30 events to win and compete at a high level.

The gigantic purses have had more to do with players cutting back than any need to focus on the majors. If you're a top player who gets into the four majors, the WGCs and the Players Championship, you can make millions and earn important world ranking points in fewer events. Why play in Reno and Dallas if you don't need them to make a living or position yourself to get into the top events?

Harig: Fact. Phil Mickelson has already said he'll do it, Tiger Woods has hinted at cutting back even more and you can expect players such as Henrik Stenson -- who played more than 30 times worldwide -- to reduce schedules. And it's not just about the success of Scott. It's the grueling end-of-the-year run that has players analyzing how much they will play through the heart of the season.

Maguire: Fact. Pro golfers are a fickle bunch and will latch on to anything that might give them an edge. If Scott and the likes of Phil Mickelson do it, don't be stunned when other top-10 players start trimming their itineraries with the goal of a major trophy firmly on their minds.

4. Which 2013 men's major winner has the best shot to repeat in 2014?


Collins: Adam Scott because Phil Mickelson is putting all his eggs in the U.S. Open basket, Justin Rose won't come down from the U.S. Open high until 2015 and Jason Dufner is just sitting there ... Dufnering.

Evans: At the moment, Adam Scott could be the best player in the world. Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner and Justin Rose are great players and major champions, but Scott has reached a gear in his career where he should win three or four majors before he's done.

Harig: Adam Scott. Not only did Scott win the Masters, but he contended in two of the other three and tied for the lowest aggregate score among all who played in the four majors in 2013. He's been contending in majors often over the past two years and it would be a surprise if he didn't add another.

Maguire: Adam Scott. Is anyone playing better golf the last few months than Scott? Only Henrik Stenson would give him a run in that category. With a major win already in Scott's closet, the Aussie definitely owns a great shot at becoming the first back-to-back Masters winner since Tiger Woods in 2001-02.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.