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December 30 2013

10:00 AM

No. 1 player to watch: Tiger Woods

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With the PGA TOUR set to resume its 2013-14 season the first week of January, PGATOUR.COM is previewing the top 30 players to watch heading into the new year. We'll count down one a day in December until we unveil our No. 1 player to watch on Dec. 30, the Monday of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Check out this preview of No. 1 Tiger Woods and join the discussion below on how you think he'll perform in 2014. Click here for more on the top 30 players to watch in 2014.


NO. 1 PLAYER TO WATCH: TIGER WOODS

2014 OUTLOOK: Will he win a major? Will he break Sam Snead's record and become the career leader in wins on the PGA TOUR? Those are two big questions as Tiger Woods prepares for the 2014 season. He's making steady progress in one pursuit but seems to have stalled in the other run at history so the next 10 months should be interesting. Woods will start the year within three wins of Snead's all-time mark of 82 after winning five times on TOUR in 2013. But he has been stubbornly stuck at 14 in his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' all-time record of major championship wins since 2008. Woods has nine top-10 finishes in the 18 majors he has played since beating Rocco Mediate in that 18-hole playoff at Torrey Pines to win his third U.S. Open. Two of those top-10s came last year -- most notably the tie for fourth at the Masters where Woods saw his third shot at the 15th hole on Friday hit the flagstick and bounce back into the water, then incurred a two-stroke penalty the following morning for taking an incorrect drop. The tie for fourth matched Woods' best at Augusta National since 2008 when he finished second. He also has a solid history at the other three major venues this year. He won the 2000 PGA at Valhalla, this year's host, and the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Woods also tied for third in 1999 and was solo second in 2005, the other two times Pinehurst No. 2 hosted the U.S. Open. -- Helen Ross

THUS FAR THIS SEASON: Woods did not play during the fall portion of the PGA TOUR's 2013-14 wrap-around season. He did, however, tie for third at the Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour and finished second in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge that he hosted earlier this month.

EXPERT VIEWS
FANTASY OUTLOOK
Let's face it, despite the absence of a victory in a major since 2008, this is the only place he belongs. Even when he's been hampered by injury in recent years, he's usually the go-to in every start or first guy off the board in any long-term format. -- Rob Bolton
ON THE MARK
The world No. 1 appears to have completed his recent golf swing adjustments and now he seems able to swing more freely under pressure. His misses have tightened and his trajectory control is magnificent -- and as a result he is much sharper off the tee. So Tiger plays more approach shots out of the fairway and this makes him even more of a dangerous proposition. If there is anything to worry about, it's his physical well-being given the tremendous load and torque his powerful action puts on his body. -- Mark Immelman
COURSE PREFERENCE
Every course in the world is a good match for the world’s best player, but he does have his favorites: Torrey Pines, Doral, Bay Hill, Augusta National and Firestone. The one question I have in Tiger’s game is his reluctance to work the ball from right to left with his driver but that matters little since he is comfortable hitting a draw with his 3-wood and is plenty long with that club. I think Tiger’s preference relates to a comfort level on courses he is very familiar with regarding lines off the tee and greens. Woods will win more Masters, but since the addition of rough at Augusta National, I’m not sure that’s still the best fit for his game. -- Fred Albers
INSIDE THE NUMBERS 
Woods made drastic steps in putting and wedge play in 2013. On putts from 10 feet, he improved from 44 percent to 51.85 percent from 2012 to 2013. He also improved from 70.26 to 72.78 percent on putts from 4 to 8 feet. He also took a step forward in wedge play, improving in average proximity by a full foot on approaches from 50 to 125 yards and 125 to 150 yards. -- Bill Cooney

VIDEO VAULT

Tiger Woods' impressive 2013 season

2013 for Tiger Woods was like so many seasons that came before it, and the numbers were staggering: 16 starts, 5 wins, 8 top 10’s, including two in majors and a return to number one in the world.
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