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PGA Tour Confidential: The Big Three, The Big Story and the Big Winners of 2014

Adam Scott, Steve Williams
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Can Adam Scott repeat at the Masters in 2014? Alan Shipnuck thinks so.

3. It's 2013, but we're already six tournaments into the 2014 season. How do you like the new schedule?

GARRITY: I liked those two big Asian tournaments a whole lot, but then I'm a night owl. That's the only thing I like about the new schedule. The other fall Tour stops seem even less compelling than before.

ANONYMOUS PRO: When the ratings for a PGA Tour event are worse than ratings for Golf Channel's Big Break, you've got a problem. The fields for the fall events are better, top to bottom, but the people they need to affect the ratings aren't going to play. The Tour hasn't solved anything.

GARRITY: Now you don't have the marginal players fighting to keep their Tour cards. There was some entertainment value in that.

VAN SICKLE: When the FedEx Cup system was devised, the fall tournaments were hung out to dry, as if the Tour wanted them to go away. Now that the fall events count, so to speak, it seems the Tour recognizes that it needs these playing opportunities.

SHIPNUCK: The schedule is acceptable because it's creating this fall Asian swing, which draws some top Americans. The PGA Tour has finally colonized Asia.

VAN SICKLE: We may see more Asian stops. The PGA Tour has a knack for following the money.

BAMBERGER: We are going to have a global tour, just as Greg Norman predicted years ago. Finchem has shown what a savvy leader he is in his own uncharismatic way.

VAN SICKLE: Less is not more. Finchem has realized that, and I wholeheartedly agree.

GARRITY: I guess I'm a fuddy-duddy then, because I won't get excited until next season starts for real. At Kapalua. When it really is 2014.

4. If you were PGA Tour commissioner for a day, what rule would you put into place and why?

SHIPNUCK: I would trim 10 tournaments from the schedule. Nobody would miss them.

VAN SICKLE: A few players might.

SHIPNUCK: Those World Golf Championships in Tucson and Akron are stuck at such uninspired venues. I'd move those around the world to places that are more dynamic. The Walker Cup is being played at places like National Golf Links and Seminole. Why can't we have golf at the citadels of the game, like Pine Valley, Cypress Point, Bel-Air and Chicago Golf Club?

BAMBERGER: I'd create some significant conditions of play by which bifurcation is introduced into the golf culture. A very good place to start would be the ball.

SHIPNUCK: Exactly. Cypress Point at 6,500 yards would be too short for a pro event. If you said, Boys, we're going to play a WGC event for $8 million at Cypress, but you have to use a reduced-flight ball, every guy on Tour would say, Sign me up.

VAN SICKLE: I'd pay to see that. I'd cut the FedEx Cup playoffs to three weeks, ending with 60 players at the Tour Championship, and I'd give the stroke-play WGC events full fields with a cut instead of these 70-player snoozefests. I'd also blow up the new Q school. It was a disaster.

ANONYMOUS PRO: I'd rescind the ban on anchored putters and declare that the PGA Tour will play by its own rules.

5. Who are your early picks to win the four majors?

SHIPNUCK: I've got Adam Scott repeating at the Masters, because I think he'll build on his strong finish to the year. It's Phil at Pinehurst because it's meant to be. I like long-iron specialist Henrik Stenson at Hoylake, and though it may be wishful thinking, I'll take Rory to win the PGA at Valhalla.

GARRITY: Mickelson to win the Masters because he occasionally does. Luke Donald at Pinehurst, because we've stopped paying attention to him. Tiger to win at Hoylake -- unless it's wet, in which case I take Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño. And for the PGA, I'm thinking Rory picks up his third major. It's the kind of big track he can beat up.

VAN SICKLE: I like a second straight Aussie champion at the Masters -- Jason Day; short-game artist Louis Oosthuizen (remember him?) at Pinehurst; Sergio García at Hoylake (yeah, that's right -- Sergio!); and Stenson over Scott in a playoff at Valhalla.

ANONYMOUS PRO: I don't believe Tiger can drive the ball straight enough anymore, but he can still get it around at Augusta. At Pinehurst you're going to have to chip and putt really well, so I like Phil. Adam Scott gets redemption at the British Open, and since Valhalla is kind of a birdiefest, I'll go with Brandt Snedeker.

BAMBERGER: I'm going with the stories that would mean the most to us: Tiger at the Masters, Phil at the U.S. Open, Rory at the British and Dustin Johnson at the PGA.

VAN SICKLE: What does DJ winning the PGA do for you besides bring Paulina Gretzky into play?

BAMBERGER: It brings Paulina Gretzky into play.

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