Happy New Year everyone! It's been a very cold week in Minnesota and the photos from Hawaii and the SBS Tournament of Champions warm the heart...and maybe makes me just a tad jealous.
Just before Christmas I reviewed my 2016 predictions, and as expected, I didn't do so hot, except for picking Dustin Johnson winning the US Open - and when I can pick a Major, that's a big deal!! But it's time now to look into my crystal golf ball and see what I can come up with for 2017. Without further ado...
My tradition is to start with the Majors...and with that my favorite week of the year...The Masters.
My heart swells just thinking about it, but I haven't had great luck at all picking a winner here...probably because of my tendency to go with Heart Picks here. But I think I can say not many people would have put Danny Willett in a green jacket in January a year ago. But for 2017 I'm going with current #2 player in the world, Rory McIlroy. In the last 3 years he's finished T10, 4th, and T8, and while new clubs may be in his bag, I'm feeling like this may just be the year for a green jacket. If not Rory, I would like to see my 2015 pick, Justin Rose, to be in the mix.
The US Open is coming to the Midwest! Erin Hills, in Erin, Wisconsin will be the host in 2017. Not knowing much about the course, but loving their logo, it seems like Rory would be a great pick here, too!! But I'm going to go with Henrik Stenson. I got on his fan bus last year and well, he's accurate off the tee and has a great GIR %. What's not to like on a what is usually a tight course?
This year the Champion Golfer of the Year will be determined at Royal Birkdale, located 20 miles north of Liverpool. The last time the Open was at Birkdale, Padraig Harrington was your champion, so it's been awhile to base any decision on history. So looking at other past winners there, and unapologically following my heart, I'm going with Matt Kuchar. Kuch SO deserves a Major and I've just got a feeling.
Argubly, the best field of the year, the PGA Championship will be at Quail Hollow in August. The site of the Wells Fargo Championship, Quail Hollow has some history...a 2-time winner there is Rory McIlroy, and it's not often that I would pick the same person more than once for a Major, but Rory might just be a 2-time Major winner in 2017. Go Rory!
The Players Championship is one of my favorites, and while I was saving this tournament of Dustin Johnson (2016 player of the year!) after looking at his history here, I'm not sure it's the right fit. So I'm going to go with Hideki Matsuyama. He's off to a great start in the 16-17 season, and he finished T7 last year.
Okay, now back to Dustin Johnson...DJ is just so fun to watch and deserving for POY honors in 2016. I believe DJ will win 2 times in 2017 and have 12 Top 10's...with a possible win at the Shell Houston Open as he gets ready for Augusta.
The current #1 Player in the world is getting back into the swing of things. and Jason Day may be prime for a great season, especially with his new Nike apparel! He plays the bigger events and I believe he'll be in contention in at least 3 of the 4 Majors, just coming up short in each of them. But he will have 2 wins, one early and one at the end of the year. I think 75% of his events he will be in the top 20.
Phil Mickelson has been on my mind since the Ryder Cup - while I know there are new players to be fans of, i just can't get off the Lefty fan bus!! Winless since 2013, Mickelson did card 3 seconds in 2016 and earned just over $4 million. 2017 seems like a perfect time for a W! He's had a good history on the west coast, and I think the fans would LOVE a win at the Waste Management Open. I, of course, would love a run a the Masters, but if not the WMO we might see a win at the St. Jude.
I had high hopes for Rickie Fowler in 2016, but he only had 1 top 3 & 8 top 10's making $2.7 million for the season, with no wins. He brings excitement to the game so I hope we'll see some more higher finishes and I think we will see a win this year as well...and possibly a run at the PGA Championship.
How have I gotten this far without mentioning Jordan Spieth?? There is SO much to like about Jordan and I'm always rooting for him. After the amazing 2015 season, '16 was a little bit of a yo-yo year, 2 wins but only 8 top 10's in 21 events, including 2 MC's. $5.5 million is nothing to sneeze at for the year, but a $12 million prior season makes a weird perspective. My hope for Jordan is a 3 win season, runs at all the Majors and 50% of his events will end up in the top 10. I'm also going to say Top 5 at the Sony Open that he just confirmed.
Okay some scatter shooting (a la Sam Johnson) on a few more guys:
Sergio Garcia, while he doesn't play a lot of events here, I think he'll have a win and 5 top 10's and earn over $4 million (even if he's getting married!)
Danny Willett will miss the cut at the Masters this year. (I might still be a little bitter about how he was at the Ryder Cup this year)
Adam Scott will break into the top 5 in the OWGR at some point in 2017, will have 1 win, and no missed cuts.
I've started to like Ryan Moore more now after the Ryder Cup - I think he's going to get into the Top 25 in the OWGR sometime this year, make the cut in all the Majors, getting into the Top 5 at the US Open.
I picked Stenson to win the US Open this year but I think he will have a multi-win season, and he'll knock on the door to the #1 spot on the OWGR but will be #2 at some point in 2017.
I LOVED Patrick Reed at the Ryder Cup!! And he had a great 2016, with a win, 11 top 10's and over $5.6 million in earnings, ending up 3rd in the FedEx Cup race. So I guess what he needs next is a Major...he was in the Top 15 in the Britsh & PGA so I think we might see him make a run at one this year but may have to wait to hoist a trophy (Prove me wrong, PReed!)
Jimmy Walker was a bit under the radar for me last year, until he won the PGA! With only 5 Top 10's in 25 events, I think Walker has something to prove in '17 - he will win, have 8 top 10's and move inside the top 30 on the OWGR at some point in 2017.
I contemplated including Tiger Woods - I honestly don't know what his plans are, how long he will last, or if the drive is still in him. But if I had to guess, I don't think we'll see a win, but we'll see enough improvement that he'll get plenty of TV coverage and and 3 Top 10's.
My ultimate Heart Pick is of course Steve Stricker - his limited schedule gave us 15 events in 2016, and with a 4th at the British Open I'm hoping that means we'll see him at all the Majors this year...ESPECIALLY the Masters!! It may be just the sign/inspiration he needs to get his Major and Green Jacket!! I hope that means we'll see him in some events leading up to Augusta and I'm going to say he'll have 4 Top 10's this year and crack the $2 million mark in earnings. GO STEVE!!
Oh there's so many more I could write about, but I think I'll end it here.
I can't tell you how much the Ryder Cup inspired me and I've got a little PGA Tour fever in me now, too.
Definitely need to read up on new rookies and get my Fantasy logic together, but I'm looking forward to seeing lush fairways, great shots, and memories made in 2017.
Enjoy the PGA Tour Season!
I know I"m a little late to the game on the SBS Tournament of Champions, but it would be fun to see Patrick Reed make a Sunday run and win it!
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I love golf and I love to write, so I can't think of anything better than having a happy place like this to write about golf to my heart's content. Thanks for joining me!