Now that 2017 is in the rear view mirror and everyone looks at the 2018 season, it’s time to make some (likely wrong) predictions. First, let’s take a look at my 2017 majors predictions.
|Event||My Prediction||Actual Winner|
|Masters||Phil Mickelson||Sergio Garcia|
|US Open||Rory McIlroy||Brooks Koepka|
|Open Championship||Shane Lowry||Jordan Spieth|
|USPGA Championship||Dustin Johnson||Justin Thomas|
|ANA Inspiration||Christina Kim||Ryu So-Yeon|
|US Womens Open||Brooke Henderson||Sung Hyun Park|
|LPGA Championship||A. Jutanugarn||Danielle Kang|
|Womens Open Championship||Gerina Piller||In-Kyung (IK) Kim|
|Evian Championship||Lydia Ko||Anna Nordqvist|
That’s pretty bad. In fact, it’s downright terrible. I wasn’t remotely close. As much as I’d like to run from this, I can’t. I could sit here and wallow in my failure and go crawl into a hole to cry softly, or I could knock back a few drinks and take another stab at things. As with other things, I’m choosing the option involving drinking. To borrow an old line, the use of these picks as the means for making a wager is, at best, foolhardy and at worst plain stupid.
The “root for the story” pick: Either Rory McIlroy or Tiger. McIlroy needs a green jacket to complete the career grand slam and Tiger in the hunt on Sunday would move the needle unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory. For the record, I don’t know what to think about Tiger’s latest comeback, because frankly we’ve heard this same stuff before. As of this writing he hasn’t hit a ball in anger in 2018 yet so I’ve no clue about this comeback.
The thinking man’s pick: Dustin Johnson can overpower this course (or anywhere else, really) unlike anything we’ve seen. If he’s healthy and his putter is working he’s the favorite. What happened last year (getting injured and having to WD) was incredibly unlucky. If Jason Day is healthy (and that’s a HUGE if) he’s got the game to win here.
My pick: Six first-time winners in the last seven years (which underlines how hard it is to win a major with so many very good players out there). I think this continues in 2018 and Jon Rahm wins. He has the length and I like his short game. First timers often struggle. This will be his second Masters.
US Open (Shinnecock):
The “root for the story” pick: Phil Mickelson. Another ‘should have’ from the last time they were here. The USGA managed to cock up the course by being unable to read a weather forecast and turned the greens into concrete. They have an entire year to properly set up a golf course for the national championship and manage to screw up more often than not. If he’s in contention and wins this is THE story of 2018 unless Tiger wins Augusta by 10, and the other majors by 5+ strokes. It completes the career grand slam for him and gives him the ultimate sendoff.
The thinking man’s pick: Jordan Spieth. Wind won’t bother him and he’s already won a US Open on a similar course.
My pick: Your previous winners at Shinnecock are Raymond Floyd, Corey Pavin and Retief Goosen. Not bombers but guys who can think their way around a course. I’m going to go out on a big ass limb and predict either Justin Thomas or Rickie Fowler (I think this is the year he finally wins a major).
Open Championship (Carnoustie):
The “root for the story” pick: Either Sergio (should have won in 2007), Tommy Fleetwood or Ian Poulter.
The thinking man’s pick: Justin Rose. He’s got the game to win, and he was probably unlucky to have not won in Augusta last year. Paul Casey seems to have found his game.
My pick: Your previous winners at Carnoustie are Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie, so the sample size is really difficult. The weather is always a factor; bad weather on the first two days can easily knock out half the field so it’s really a bit of a lottery. Having said that, the R&A don’t get worked up about protecting par. If the winning score is 17 under then fine; if the wind blows and it’s 5 over, then that’s okay as well. A lot of first-time winners of recent memory and a lot of Americans winning, but not at Carnoustie. I think this continues. I think it’ll be a non-US first-timer that wins. Rafa Cabrera Bello has the length, he played well last year at Birkdale.
US PGA Championship (Bellrieve):
The root for the story pick: Jordan Spieth needs a US PGA Championship to complete the career grand slam.
The thinking man’s pick: Rickie Fowler is way overdue. Patrick Reed fits the profile of a young American first-time winner and I think he’ll contend.
My pick: First-time major winners galore. This will be the last US PGA Championship held in August (thankfully); and of course they’re going into the St. Louis area (so expect horrible heat, humidity and likely thunderstorms). I’ve advocated that the PGA get the hell out of middle America and look West, but they don’t seem to be able to do this. I’m going with Charley Hoffman who will come out of a competitive and muddled pack to eke out a win.
Unlike a certain writer who thinks we’re into some gilded age of American dominance, I’m not ready to hang the bunting just yet. The ugly truth is that it’s been 25 years since an US team won in Europe. I think Europe wins a very closely contested Ryder Cup.