The start of a new year leaves us hoping for a better 2014 than we had in 2013. That's not too much to ask for, right?
Well, here are 18 wishes for the upcoming year in golf. Some could happen (like No. 4). Some might happen (like No. 11). And some like (No. 13) would probably signal the end of the world as we know it.
1. Time for a 62 in a major. If PGA Tour pros are challenging for 58s at a regular event, surely a 62 in one of the big four is in the offing, right? Unfortunately for those wanting to make (or watch) history in this area, it would be hard to believe anyone who is in charge of setting up a major championship venue would leave that as a possibility. No one wants to get shown up in front of an international audience, and that's what would happen if someone dropped a 62 on their track.
2. Champions Tour player wins a regular tour major. Tom Watson proved it was clearly possible at Turnberry in 2009 and Greg Norman showed us the older set isn't ready to pack it in, either, at Royal Birkdale in 2008. For this to happen, though, it would have to be at the Open Championship, since a U.S. Open, PGA Championship or Masters title would be nearly impossible solely due to the length of those layouts.
3. Phil Mickelson joins Twitter. There are so many ways to go at this. Betting tips for the NCAA tournament? NFL fantasy draft advice? Stock suggestions? OK, maybe leave that last one to the experts, but adding Mickelson to the Twittersphere would surely enlarge his already-massive legion of fans. And I'd be willing to bet the guy who owns @Lefty could be persuaded to part with it, for a price of course.
4. Ian Poulter, Jim Furyk both make Ryder Cup teams. For Poulter, he'd have to break his leg the week before the tournament not to be, at worst, a captain's pick for the event he was born to play. As for Furyk, a bit of redemption would be in order to make a U.S. squad trying to break a streak of losses on foreign soil that dates back to 1993.
5. That Tiger's golf game is the only newsy thing from his world in 2014. Remember the good old days when the only discussion around Woods was about his wayward drives on the course? Rules violations and since-rescinded allegations of cheating by an analyst dotted the Tiger landscape in 2013. A major victory in 2014 solves most of this, but is that too much to ask of a 38-year-old with a 48-year-old's knees?
6. That no marshal is quoted ever again. After Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia traded barbs at the Players Championship in May, we had dueling marshals being interviewed about who said what and when at TPC Sawgrass during the final round. Those volunteers are the backbone of pro golf tournaments, but I'm sure just about every one of them would prefer to be seen and not heard. Let's hope that's the case.
7. A return to the old Q-school format. OK, PGA Tour, you had your fun with the Web.com Tour Finals series and a new version of Q-school where players only get to the minor leagues. Let's go back to the old system, where Cinderella stories kept us on the edge of our seats for six rounds. We'll look the other way and act like nothing ever happened this year. Thanks.
8. ShotLink at the major championships. It's not often the PGA Tour does something far and away better than golf's major championships, but in terms of statistical data being made available to the golfing public, the tour's ShotLink service should be a required installation at every major-championship venue. That's not to say it's perfect, but it's a significant upgrade from what's available right now, which feels like next to nothing for the masses.
9. PGA Tour begins announcing fines and suspensions. This might be the longest of long shots, at least while Tim Finchem is ruling the roost in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Wouldn't more accountability from the top professional golf tour in the world be a good thing?
10. "Anchor ban" should never be written, spoken or tweeted for the rest of the year (or ever.) That, or course, would mean the USGA and Royal & Ancient would have to rescind their ban immediately, which is highly unlikely, since it's slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
11. A transparent World Golf Hall of Fame. At least the powers that be announced they are looking to revamp a system that never released ballot totals and acted as if state secrets were at stake. It's a hall of fame, for goodness' sake. Let the fans know who got in, who barely missed out, who might be next on the list the following year. That alone builds up the suspense and the interest. What, exactly, is there to hide?
12. PGA Tour, stop answering the phones. How about this … when the phone rings, do what we all do when it's a telemarketer calling at dinner time ... don't answer! No more calling in rules violations, or at least limiting it to same-day calls and guys not getting disqualified if they already signed their cards.
If someone records the golf, should it be the player who loses out because the fan at home didn't watch the round until his family goes to bed? And don't hit me with the "they should know the rules" bit, because if the rules violation happens Sunday and the tournament is over, it's in the books and no one's changing it. So why do they DQ guys if it's after Rounds 1, 2 or 3?
13. That golf's governing bodies all play nice together in the same sandbox. The USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and others all talk a good game. They even own many of the same goals. But when it comes down to it, often they have different plans for fixing what ails golf. What's that old line about too many cooks?
14. The extinction of slow play at both the pro and amateur levels. This won't happen until/if No. 13 happens, and the chance of that, as an old colleague of mine used to say, is slim to none and slim just left town. Everyone wants to point the finger at some other reason instead of dealing with the issues at hand. Until the powers that be can put their egos in check, don't expect anything to change in this department.
15. Mickelson/PGA Tour Player of the Year and world No. 1. To do that, he'd probably have to win major No. 6 (and maybe No. 7.) And nothing against Tiger and his reign at No. 1, but having been in the top spot for the better part of two decades is more than enough. Time to step aside for Lefty.
16. Jarrod Lyle's healthy return to the PGA Tour. The health part is of course much more important than the return part, but I'm sure the Aussie would like both. By making the cut in Australia at the end of 2013, we saw his game isn't that far from being PGA Tour-ready. Crossing our collective fingers that this one happens sooner rather than later.
17. A timely end to the Vijay Singh-PGA Tour lawsuit. This isn't going to end well for anyone, so let's cut to the chase and find a way to save face for all parties. We'll leave the deer antler-spray jokes to the late-night comedians so us fans can focus on the golf.
18. An Erik Compton victory. Some would say simply being alive is a victory for Compton, who has undergone not one but two heart transplants in his 34 years on this Earth. I'd pay money to witness that trophy ceremony in person. There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house.