Change at the top defines first half of Tour season

Tiger Woods has played in only three PGA Tour tournaments this season, a stark contrast to his hot start in 2013.

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With Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson struggling, the 2013-14 PGA Tour season has not turned out like many observers would have thought.

Woods has played in only three Tour events and has not been close to winning this year, while Mickelson, who withdrew with an injury during the third round of the Valero Texas Open, also has struggled. With only one more week before the Masters, the season’s first major championship, the two most important headliners in golf are questionable.

Of course, anything is possible this season, and Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every and Steven Bowditch would concur. All have broken through with victories in the inaugural wraparound season on Tour.

Some of those first-time winners also have found spots among the top 10 of the FedEx Cup points list, pushing out some of the game’s most familiar names.

The Valero Texas Open, won by Bowditch, is the 20th event on the PGA Tour this season. With only 21 events remaining before the FedEx Cup playoffs commence, the 2014 FedEx Cup points list is at the very least interesting and possibly remarkable.

In the 2013 season, the 20th event on the PGA Tour was The Players Championship. At that point in the season, with Woods having won for the fourth time, he led the FedEx Cup points list. The Players was Woods’ seventh event, and with 2,340 points he held an 866-point lead on Brandt Snedeker.

• • •

The top 10 in 2013 after the Players Championship

  • 1. Tiger Woods
  • 2. Brandt Snedeker
  • 3. Kevin Streelman
  • 4. Billy Horschel
  • 5. Matt Kuchar
  • 6. Phil Mickelson
  • 7. D.A. Points
  • 8. Adam Scott
  • 9. Webb Simpson
  • 10. Graeme McDowell

The top 10 after Valero Texas Open, 2013-14's 20th event

  • 1. Jimmy Walker
  • 2. Patrick Reed
  • 3. Dustin Johnson
  • 4. Harris English
  • 5. Bubba Watson
  • 6. Chris Kirk
  • 7. Zach Johnson
  • 8. Matt Every
  • 9. Webb Simpson
  • 10. Ryan Moore

Of the top 10 after Valero, only Webb Simpson, ninth in both lists, repeats.

So with a 90-percent difference between the two lists, where did these new players come from and where are the old reliable names now?

The 2013 FedEx Cup leaders in 2014

  • 1. Tiger Woods (193)
  • 2. Brandt Snedeker (89)
  • 3. Kevin Streelman (61)
  • 4. Billy Horschel (59)
  • 5. Matt Kuchar (36)
  • 6. Phil Mickelson (97)
  • 7. D.A. Points (169)
  • 8. Adam Scott (43)
  • 9. Webb Simpson (9)
  • 10. Graeme McDowell (32)

And the 2014 FedEx Cup leaders in 2013

  • 1. Jimmy Walker (15)
  • 2. Patrick Reed (125)
  • 3. Dustin Johnson (13)
  • 4. Harris English (69)
  • 5. Bubba Watson (48)
  • 6. Chris Kirk (18)
  • 7. Zach Johnson (91)
  • 8. Matt Every (110)
  • 9. Webb Simpson (9)
  • 10. Ryan Moore (65)

Of course none of these results is predictive of any future success. With four majors left and the Players Championship remaining, the list certainly will change. Halfway through the season, it’s clear that some of these players will be the ones to watch in those big events, in the FedEx Cup playoffs and ultimately the Ryder Cup.

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