Jordan Spieth (+9%): His star-making performance at Valspar was so unlike his other three victories worldwide – this was gritty, imperfect, clutch. The kid isn’t short on confidence, but a win without his best stuff can only bolster his self-belief.
Rivalries (+6%): Tiger vs. Phil? That duel was woefully one-sided when it mattered most and is now out of steam. Rory vs. Rickie? McIlroy had more Tour wins last August than Fowler has in his entire career. Spieth and Patrick Reed might never win 40-plus events, but they’re emotional firecrackers with a rare ability to invigorate a tournament. Together, they can challenge Rory’s throne.
Tiger Takeover (+5%): Rory has Tiger’s old video game. Adam Scott has his old swing. Bubba has his old house. Spieth has his old sponsor (AT&T). P-Reed has his old Sunday outfit. When it comes to Woods, maybe imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery.
P-Reed (+4%): For some reason, he reopened a controversy that had all but died. Nearly snagging the Valspar less than a week later is proof that this guy thrives on chaos.
Sean O’Hair (+3%): What a remarkable third act this could be, after an auspicious start to his career and then the sad fallout with his overbearing father. That he’s still grinding, 16 years later, is a testament to his heart and talent.
Harris English (+1%): His Sunday 65 didn’t just vault him into the top 10 in Tampa. It also propelled him to No. 52 in the world, just outside the OWGR cut-off for the Masters.
Adam Scott’s putting (-1%): Small sample size and all, it’s tempting to overreact to his short-stick struggles. But how soon we forget that he didn’t exactly light it up with the long wand, either.
Justin Rose (-2%): The classy Englishman was in fine form at the end of ’14, but since he took a spill in San Diego and injured his right wrist, he’s gone MC-MC-55-MC.
Swedish Golf Federation (-3%): A Swedish golfer has been banned from playing any golf course in his home country for one year. His offense? Sending an approach shot into the group ahead of him and injuring one of the players. Huh? A simple “Sorry about that …” didn’t suffice?
54-hole leaders (-4%): Seems Ryan Moore had no chance Sunday, even with a three-shot lead and six to play: The third-round leader/co-leader has gone on to win only five times in 18 Tour events. Heavy is the head that owns the lead, or something like that.
Tiger (-5%): It’s revealing that Woods still doesn’t think he’s ready to contend, even at one of his personal playgrounds. This isn’t 2010 – he can’t just parachute into Augusta and contend.
Drug testing (-7%): You know there’s a massive credibility issue when you can’t decide whom to believe, John Daly or the PGA Tour.