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The Biggest 'What If' for Golf's Top Stars so Far in 2014

Mike DudurichContributor IMay 14, 2014

The Biggest 'What If' for Golf's Top Stars so Far in 2014

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    Patrick Reed is a very confident young man.
    Patrick Reed is a very confident young man.USA TODAY Sports

    Even the best golfers in the world look back on their seasons and wonder "what if?"

    No season is ever perfect; even the most spectacular and most productive years feature those "what if" moments that are lamented.

    Jordan Spieth certainly looks back at what happened at the Masters and Players Championship.

    Patrick Reed has to look back on his top-five proclamation and think about how he has been on a free-fall since. Think he gives any consideration to how things might have been had had he not said those things?

    Here's a list of a half-dozen players and their "what if" moments this season.

Tiger Woods

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    This bunker shot at Doral was particularly painful for Tiger Woods.
    This bunker shot at Doral was particularly painful for Tiger Woods.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    What if Tiger Woods had gotten off to a fast start in 2014, playing well in the Farmers Insurance Open and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic instead of being on the outside looking in? He wasn't a factor and had a hard time getting out of his own way.

    Woods was coming off of a strong five-win season in 2013, and expectations were high for 2014.

    He has a fierce desire to compete, and had he started quickly, who knows if he might have opted to keep going in an effort to win his 15th major. That would have gone against medical advice, no doubt, but that could have happened.

Adam Scott

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    Adam Scott's success with the long putter has not been what he's used to.
    Adam Scott's success with the long putter has not been what he's used to.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    What if Adam Scott hadn't shot 39 on the front nine of his second round at the Masters last month?

    Scott had gotten the defense of his 2013 title off to a good start with a 69, but he came out with the stinker front nine the next day. Give Scott credit, he came back strong on the back nine to shoot 33.

    Despite that strong comeback, it all came apart the next day when he struggled to a 40 on the front nine on his way to a 76.

    Who knows? Scott could have gone on to do something that's rarely done at Augusta National Golf Club: win back-to-back green jackets.

Jordan Spieth

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    Jordan Spieth has been very close to winning a pair of big tournaments in 2014.
    Jordan Spieth has been very close to winning a pair of big tournaments in 2014.John Raoux/Associated Press

    What if Jordan Spieth hadn't made bogeys on the eighth and ninth holes at Augusta National Golf Club in the final round of the Masters?

    He was in a tense battle with Bubba Watson, and it looked as though golf fans were going to be greatly entertained on the back nine.

    But those bogeys took all of the enthusiasm out of that possibility and Watson was able to cruise to his second green jacket with no pressure.

    Those bogeys derailed Spieth from a moment that seems inevitable: becoming a major champion.

Patrick Reed

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    Patrick Reed made headlines after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
    Patrick Reed made headlines after winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    What if Patrick Reed had just graciously and humbly accepted the trophy after conquering an elite field in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship?

    Maybe he would have continued to play at the high level he had been leading up to Doral.

    But Reed couldn't leave it at that, declaring in a post-round interview that he was a top-five player in the world. The Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner wrote an article on the interview, one that put Reed in the bullseye of criticism.

    It also sent him into a tailspin in which he's missed three cuts and posted finishes of T52 and T48 since.

    He is now actually the 24th-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Bubba Watson

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    Bubba Watson moved up in the golf world with his second major title.
    Bubba Watson moved up in the golf world with his second major title.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    What if Bubba Watson hadn't Bubba Golfed his way around Augusta National Golf Club to become a two-time Masters winner?

    When he sank the final putt on the 18th hole, he became a member of an elite club. He joins eight other players who have won the Masters twice.

    Had he not won the second, he'd still be in the one-hit wonder club.

    Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Tom Kite and Justin Leonard are some of the modern-day players to have won just one.

    A two-time major champion just has a better ring to it.

Jim Furyk

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    Jim Furyk said he did all he could in finishing second in the Players Championship.
    Jim Furyk said he did all he could in finishing second in the Players Championship.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    What if Jim Furyk had made a few more putts the last couple of weeks, turning one or two of those rounds in the 70s into 60s?

    The 44-year-old spent the last two late Sunday afternoons watching and waiting in the locker room to determine if he was going to have a chance to win his 17th PGA Tour event.

    Things didn't go his way, but he's definitely playing well these days. He's posted rounds in the 60s in five of his last eight rounds.

    He hasn't won since his three-win 2010 season, which included the Tour Championship.

    The 2003 U.S. Open champion is making the point that he's not quite done yet as a competitive player.

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