Golf column: My top four people to watch in 2014

Tiger Woods – love him or hate him, how could he not be first?

Tiger had a microdiscectomy (heck, I don’t think I can even pronounce it) procedure for a pinched nerve in his back in March. He is recovering well and he will be out for several months, but hopes to return to competition in late summer. It is a fact that when Tiger is not playing in an event, the TV audience drops 25-30 percent.

Scott Roth, Head Golf Professional at Victory Links Golf Course in Blaine
Scott Roth, Head Golf Professional at Victory Links Golf Course in Blaine

Some people have said if Tiger stops playing all together, that it could mean a $15 billion hit to golf in general. It is hard to believe the total is that large and hard to prove either way.

However, I can tell you that I was in the golf business before, during and now after the high point of Tiger’s “wave” and he has meant a lot to golf. Can he rise from the ashes one more time, or has he finally burned out?  We shall see.

Miguel Angel Jimenez – you know him, right? The 50-year-old guy with the pony tail? The strange stretching routine? You know … the cigar smoking Spaniard?

See, I knew you knew him. Not sure why, but I dig this cat.

He just seems like a guy who knows who he is and what his place is in this world.

After his fourth place finish at this year’s Masters and his win last Sunday at his first ever Champions Tour event, his rocket is right on track. I have never met him, but he seems like a guy you would want to hang out with. This story sums up Jimenez for me – before one round at the 2013 PGA Championship, he spent over an hour on the range.

During that time, he did his entertaining stretching, smoked the better parts of two cigars, carried on several animated conversations and hit a grand total of two golf balls. Then he went to the first tee. Need I say more?

Rickey Fowler – He might just be the most interesting guy on the PGA Tour right now.  From his optic color choices to the videos he makes with his friend the ‘Golf Boys, he has what golf needs… personality, flash and a sense of humor.

Golf can be way too serious at times and needs a major shot of orange hat, shirt, belt, pants, socks and shoes every now and then (yes, all the same color and at the same time).

The guy has an amazing resume for only being on tour for four full seasons – 26 top 10 finishes and over $11 million in winnings. Not bad for a 25-year-old.

Jordan Spieth – For a 20-year-old to do so well at his first Masters was just amazing. I can’t even imagine the pressure or nerves. He was in the hunt on the final nine holes on the final day, at one point leading by two shots.

Then, after some less than perfect hits, he was reduced to chasing Bubba Watson, the hometown hero. Speith almost became the youngest player to win the Masters, trying to edge out Tiger as the youngest.

With only one full season of tour play he has shown he can finish strong with one win and 14 top 10 finishes.

He was PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2013 (so was Tiger, hmm). Spieth also won the US Junior Amateur two times in 2009 and 2011. The only other player to ever do that? You guessed it, Tiger. I’m just saying…

Scott Roth is the Head Golf Pro at Victory Links Golf Course in Blaine.

Editor’s note: For the third golf season, we are pleased to have several area golf professionals offer thoughts on the game or tips that anyone can use in a column.