Midseason review: Experts weigh in

How/Getty Images
What's the biggest story thus far in 2013? Here's a hint to what our experts think.
April 30, 2013

By Helen Ross and Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

The PGA TOUR Season has reached it's midway point with 18 events in the books and 18 still to be played before the FedExCup Playoffs commence.

Two PGATOUR.COM saffers have weighed in on six topics reviewing the season's first half. Read their thoughts below

First-half Player of the Year

This one is a no-brainer. Tiger Woods has conjured up his former self and won three of the six tournaments he's played this year. He tied Sam Snead's record of eight wins in the same event with that victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard -- and pulled within six of the Slammer's mark of 83 career titles in the process. The way he's been playing it's not out of the realm of possibility that record could be challenged this year. Of course, we're still waiting for the 15th major. -- Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents

Tiger Woods has three wins this season, while no one else has more than one. No one was close to beating him in those victories and only once has he finished outside the top 5 in a stroke-play event. He’s also first in scoring average, first in putting, first in the all-around and first in FedExCup points. If not for hitting the pin on the 15th hole in the second round of the Masters, he might have ended up being first there, too. --Brian Wacker, Producer

First-half Rookie of the Year

Russell Henley. First, he’s the only rookie to have won this season. Henley has also finished in the top 25 three other times and has missed just three cuts. He also wrecked everyone’s brackets and beat Charl Schwartzel in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. But just look at the win: He’d made just two starts previously on TOUR before the Sony Open in Hawaii, then recorded the third-best score for a 72-hole tournament to become the first player in a dozen years to win in his debut as a rookie member. --Brian Wacker

So far, my vote goes to Russell Henley. In his first start as a PGA TOUR member, the former Georgia standout fired three rounds of 63 on the way to an aggregate total of 256 that tied for the third-lowest score in PGA TOUR history. He's had three other top-20 finishes, too, ncluding a tie for sixth at the RBC Heritage in his last start. --Helen Ross

Biggest story of the first half

How can it be anything but Adam Scott's win at the Masters? On a career-defining Sunday in a brillant battle with Angel Cabrera, Scott did what his mentor Greg Norman tried so valiantly -- but usuccessfully -- to do. Not only did Scott win his first major, after squandering a four-shot lead with four to play at the British Open last July, he became the first Australian to slip his arms into a Green Jacket. You only have to remember Scott's slightly premature and decidedly primal celebration after he holed that birdie putt on the 18th hole to see just how much it meant to him. --Helen Ross

Adam Scott winning the Masters. When you’re carrying the hopes and dreams of 23 million people on your shoulders, the burden can be pretty heavy. It never seemed to be, though, for Scott, who himself grew up watching Greg Norman finish second at the Masters three times. What was perhaps most impressive about Scott’s performance at Augusta National was his performance -- particularly when Angel Cabrera stuffed his approach shot tight moments after Scott had buried a 25-footer that appeared to be a game winner. Scott gathered himself then made one more birdie on a dark, dank, dreary evening that ended with a C’mon Aussie, C’mon and a Green Jacket. --Brian Wacker

Biggest first-half head-scratcher

Rory McIlroy. There was a lot of buzz around his change in equipment -- one he had the option of making slowly but chose to do all at once. I’m not sure anyone thought McIlroy would endure the struggles he has so far, though. Just a few months removed from winning a second major championship by eight shots and moving to No. 1 in the world, McIlroy missed a cut, lost in the first round of a match-play event and walked off the golf course midway through a round, later citing a toothache as the reason. Gone was the No. 1 ranking, too. Not even the best writers in Hollywood (the one on the West Coast, not McIlroy’s hometown) could have come up with that. --Brian Wacker

There are those who'll say it was the new clubs. Others haven questioned Rory McIlroy's motivation. The fact remains, though, that the young Northern Irishman, who turns 24 on Saturday, was coming off a four-win season that included his second runaway major championship victory. Big things were expected. Instead, he's lost the No. 1 ranking and at times, struggled to find his game. He showed signs of getting back on the right track when he finished second at the Valero Texas Open but followed that up with a disappointing tie for 25th at the Masters where he shot a third-round 79. He's back at the site of his breakthrough PGA TOUR victory this week so maybe we'll know more. --Helen Ross

Biggest first-half win

Adam Scott's win at the Masters should get the nod here. But since I ticked that box with the biggest story category, let's consider two other special victories. Phil Mickelson was nearly flawless -- coming within a shot of the magic 59 -- on the way to victory in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Don't forget Brandt Snedeker's win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, either. It capped a phenomenal stretch where he had posted one third and two seconds in his four previous starts. --Helen Ross

Adam Scott. Of all the Aussies since the days of Greg Norman, no one is more gifted or carries more expectation than Scott. For a swing that is every bit as good looking as the rest of him is to the female population, though, he’d never won any major much less the Masters. He came close two years ago, until Charl Schwartzel blitzed the field with four straight birdies. Then again last year at the British Open at Royal Lytham, until Scott couldn’t get out of his own way and finished with four straight bogeys to hand the Claret Jug to Ernie Els. This was not just for Australia. It was for Scott, too. -- Brian Wacker

First half biggest surprise

His PGA TOUR career had been nothing to write home about -- in fact, Billy Horschel found himself back in q-school last fall. But he worked hard on his short game and his mental approach during the offseason and the former Florida standout has been one of the most consistent players on TOUR this year. He has finished in the top-10 five times in 12 starts -- including Sunday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where Horschel closed with a 64 to pick up that elusive first PGA TOUR win. --Helen Ross

Hunter Mahan’s disappearing act the last month. Here are Mahan’s scores in his last three starts: 74, 71, 76, 82, 68, 76, 78. Twice he missed the cut; the third time he barely made the first cut before missing the secondary cut. For a guy who started the season with five straight finishes in the top 26, then was runner-up at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, Mahan has been a complete non-factor over the last month, which included at the Masters, where he shot 76 and 82 to finish 14 over. As much talent as he has, it’s hard to imagine him playing the way he has. --Brian Wacker