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The Biggest Storylines in Golf for the Week of Feb. 3

Fred AltvaterContributor IIFebruary 3, 2014

The Biggest Storylines in Golf for the Week of Feb. 3

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    Kevin Stadler Finally Wins on PGA Tour.
    Kevin Stadler Finally Wins on PGA Tour.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Last week proved to be another exciting week of golf around the world.

    Rory McIlroy fell short in Dubai, Bubba Watson failed to finish in Phoenix and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson made headlines, too.

    The PGA Tour moves to historic and picturesque Pebble Beach, and the European Tour heads back to South Africa.

    The Champions Tour returns this week for the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Fla.

    Here are the biggest storylines in golf this week.

The PGA Tour Heads to Pebble Beach for the AT&T National Pro-Am

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    PGA Tour returns to Pebble Beach
    PGA Tour returns to Pebble BeachBen Margot/Associated Press

    Although Bing Crosby is long gone, his memory still lives on like the majestic Monterey Pines that dot this true gem of American golf.

    Crosby started this tournament for a few of his celebrity buddies and the professionals back in 1937. Snead, Hogan, Nelson, Casper, Venturi, Nicklaus, Miller, Crenshaw, Watson, Mickelson and Woods have all held the trophy and collected the big check.

    Brandt Snedeker has not been as successful this season as last year, but he will defend his title this week.

    The first three rounds of the AT&T National Pro-Am are competed on the Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links.

    It will once again host a stellar field of top-name professionals paired with big-name celebrities and Fortune 500 chief executives. 

    The AT&T National Pro-Am brings the golf world to Pebble Beach and puts her in the spotlight on center stage one more time. 

Hideki Matsuyama and Graham DeLaet Continue to Impress

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    Graham DeLaet had another good finish in Phoenix.
    Graham DeLaet had another good finish in Phoenix.Uncredited/Associated Press

    Graham DeLaet finished 2013 with seven top-10 finishes, won over $2.8 million on the PGA Tour and was a member of the Presidents Cup international team.

    He has started off the 2013-14 season even better. In just five starts he has two runners-up, four top-10 finishes and has already won $1.3 million.

    DeLaet is using length and accuracy to demolish golf courses and has become a factor every time he tees it up.

    Hideki Matsuyama was also a member of the international team last year at Muirfield Village.

    He had four wins in Japan in 2013 and added top-10 finishes at the U.S. Open and the Open Championship.

    The young star will turn 22 at the end of February but is already someone to watch on the PGA Tour.

    He finished inside the top 25 in six of his seven starts on the 2013 PGA Tour and has two top-10 finishes already this season.

    DeLaet fired a final-round 65 to finish runner-up to Kevin Stadler at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last weekend.

    Matsuyama posted four rounds in the 60s, finished just two shots behind the winner and tied for fourth.  

Champions Tour Returns to Action in Florida

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    Rocco Mediate will defend this week at the Allianz Championship
    Rocco Mediate will defend this week at the Allianz ChampionshipGene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Rocco Mediate won the very first Champions Tour event that he entered, the 2013 Allianz Championship. He went on to win again at the Shaw Charity Classic in September and post seven top-10 finishes last season on the Champions Tour.

    He finished fifth in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai and will defend his title at the Allianz Championship this week.

    Bernhard Langer, who won the 2013 Champions Tour money title but finished second to Kenny Perry in the Charles Schwab Cup last season, won the first Champions Tour title this year in Hawaii.

    Langer is looking to win the season-long Charles Schwab Cup this year, but Fred Couples, Kenny Perry, David Frost and John Cook may have something to say about it before the season is over.

Henrik Stenson Finishes T-29 in Omega Dubai Desert Classic

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    Henrik Stenson has not shown the form that won him the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai last season.
    Henrik Stenson has not shown the form that won him the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai last season.Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

    Henrik Stenson made his fourth start of the 2014 season at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic last week. 

    After two solid rounds of 70-67, he was at seven under par and close to the top of the leaderboard.

    A third-round three-over 75 derailed his week. Even though he finished with a final-round four-under 68, he finished eight shots behind the winner.

    Stenson missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, finished T-28 in Qatar and T-29 in Dubai over his last three starts on the European Tour.

    It appears he still has some issues to work out in his golf game to return to the form that won him the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai last season.

    If he has designs of passing Adam Scott and Tiger Woods to become world No. 1, finishing outside the top 10 in European Tour events will not get it done.

Phil Mickelson Finishes T-42 in Waste Management Phoenix Open

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    Phil Mickelson shows off his passing form in Phoenix.
    Phil Mickelson shows off his passing form in Phoenix.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    After back issues forced Phil Mickelson to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago, it was questionable whether or not he would be able to defend his title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    He received medical treatment and posted respectable rounds of 71-67-72-71. His total of three under par for the tournament left him tied for 42nd and 13 shots behind the eventual winner, Kevin Stadler.

    Mickelson will play again this week in the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. He has won this event four previous times. His last win here came in 2012 when he bested Tiger Woods by 11 shots in the final round.

    Is Mickelson's back healthy enough to allow him to hit the shots necessary to win a fifth AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am?

Tiger Woods Failed to Impress in Dubai

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    Errant drives put stress on Tiger Woods' short game in Dubai.
    Errant drives put stress on Tiger Woods' short game in Dubai.Uncredited/Associated Press

    Tiger Woods made his second start of the 2014 season in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour.

    He posted four rounds of 68-73-70-71 that left him at six under par and tied for 41st.

    Woods struggled with errant drives all week that allowed him to get a lot of practice on his trouble shots. 

    The good news is that Woods is playing and does not seem to be that far off from playing really well. 

    He may not play in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and will wait until the Florida Swing to begin his pre-Masters preparations.

Bubba Watson Let One Slip Away in Phoenix

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    Bubba Watson congratulated Kevin Stadler on the win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
    Bubba Watson congratulated Kevin Stadler on the win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Bubba Watson took a two-shot lead into the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but his even-par 71 on Sunday left him one shot behind Kevin Stadler.

    Stadler fired a final-round three-under 68 to pass Watson for the win.

    Watson made bogey in front of the rowdy crowd at No. 16 and made a good rebound at No. 17 with a birdie, but a bogey at No. 18 sealed the deal and gave the win to Stadler.

    Watson has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2012 Masters. He consistently hit his driver to perfection but, in the end, just could not finish it off for the win.

     

Rory McIlroy Comes Up Short in Dubai

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    Rory McIlroy congratulates Stephen Gallacher after their round on Sunday at Dubai.
    Rory McIlroy congratulates Stephen Gallacher after their round on Sunday at Dubai.STR/Associated Press

    After his poor performances in 2013, Rory McIlroy has been showing signs of regaining the form that elevated him to No. 1 in the world. 

    Wins late last year over Tiger Woods in an exhibition in China, and another in the Australian Open over Adam Scott, gave a glimmer of hope that McIlroy was ready to resume his rightful spot at the top of golf's elite.

    An unfortunate rules violation kept him out of the winner's circle in his first start of 2014 and left him runner-up in Abu Dhabi.

    He posted three good rounds of 63-70-69 in Dubai that left him just two behind and paired with Stephen Gallacher on the final day. 

    McIlroy combined solid driving with a good putting stroke for most of the week, but struggled on Sunday to a two-over 74 and fell to a tie for ninth.

    Will we see McIlroy climb back up the world golf rankings and compete for major titles again in 2014?

     

Kevin Stadler Gets 1st Win in Phoenix

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    Kevin Stadler won the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open
    Kevin Stadler won the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix OpenRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Kevin Stadler finally got his first win on the PGA Tour after 238 starts. He had amassed nearly $8 million in total earnings, had two career runners-up and one third-place finish, but he had failed to win on tour until Sunday.

    Beginning the day two shots behind and paired with the tournament leader, Bubba Watson, Stadler turned in a brilliant four-under 68 to slip by a single stroke.

    Stadler has never qualified for the Masters, but his win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open corrected that discrepancy.

    His father, Craig, won the 1982 Masters, and they will be the first father-son combination to play in the same Masters field. 

    Stadler is extremely talented and has the game to win multiple tournaments in 2014.

     

Stephen Gallacher Repeats in the Desert

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    Stephen Gallacher won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the second consecutive year.
    Stephen Gallacher won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the second consecutive year.STR/Associated Press

    Rarely do professional golfers defend their titles, but Stephen Gallacher did just that at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

    He outlasted a very strong field that included Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson.

    McIlroy was one of his main worries until a final-round two-over 74 took Rory out of contention.

    Gallacher's third-round nine-under 63 got him to the top of the leaderboard and gave him the 54-hole lead.

    An even-par 72 on Sunday in the final round left him at 16 under par for the tournament and gave him the win.

    Gallacher, from Scotland, joined the European Tour in 1996, and this is just his third career victory. He has 431 starts on the European Tour and has earned €8.8 million.

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