Let the Fun begin!!
The Majors first....As I write this there is only 97 days until the Masters! One of my favorite weeks of the entire year. It's hard for me to say good-bye to my dream of Steve Stricker winning the Masters...but I realize that I must move on. So for 2016 I'm going to go with a player that has moved up my favorites list the past few years - Justin Rose. Since 2011, Rose has been in the Top 25, with a T2 last year behind winner Jordan Spieth. I like his chances!
Justin Rose looked pretty good out of the gate with a -3 69 on day 1, but then ballooned to a 77-73 to finish T10...with the eventual winner being Danny Willett. I didn't know much of anything about Willett before Sunday and his -5 (67) secured a 3-stroke victory and a Green Jacket. Jordan Spieth was in the mix early and I was rooting for Lee Westwood to make a charge on Sunday but it just wasn't meant to be. I'm calling a T10 respectable, but still 0-1.
This year's US Open is at Oakmont CC in PA, with the last winner being Angel Cabrera in 2007. I feel like this is going to be a long ball hitter's course this year so I'm going with Dustin Johnson. Of course there is that other little part of me that would love to see some redemption for DJ after last year at Chamber's Bay. Go DJ!
UM...HELLO!! YES, YES, and YES!! As the expression goes, DJ was the horse for the course at Oakmont and he proved it by being one off the lead in the first round, carding a bogey-free -3 (67) on a Par 70 track. DJ only had 1 double bogey the entire week, and pars were just what he needed to stay steady and finish at -4 with a 3-shot margin of victory over Jim Furyk, Scott Piercy, and Shane Lowry.
I'm smiling right now thinking about Zach Johnson winning the Open Championship last year. The British Open can be one of the biggest golf challenges for a PGA Tour player and this year's event is going to be at Royal Troon. It's been 12 years since The Open has been there and, interestingly, the last 6 Open winners at Royal Troon have been Americans. So with that in mind I'm going to go with Rickie Fowler. I know, I know, there might be some different options, but I think Rickie would make a great Champion Golfer of the Year!
So...this one, not so hot. I was riding a Rickie train last year, but he didn't exactly get the memo to hop on the British Open train...to his credit he did make the cut at T46 (I've done worse!), but he was a whopping 26 shots behind the Champion Golfer of the Year, Henrik Stenson who shot 20-under for the week. Besides Phil Mickelson, who ended up 3 shots back at -17, no one else was really close - although it will be worth noting that Steve Stricker finished 4th alone (but 15 shots back!). What an awesome performance by Stenson, who I have come to really like!!
Two mere weeks later it's the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in New Jeresy. The PGA is one of my favorite events of the year and it brings about one of the best fields in golf. I don't do this often, but I'm going to go with back to back winners on this event and go with Jason Day. Honestly, I think Day will be in contention in all of the Majors, but I feel like the PGA is where he will shine.
Oh so close!! Jason Day finished 2nd, one shot behind the 2016 PGA Champion Jimmy Walker. He was in the hunt all week but just couldn't fight off Walker. In regards to my comment about contending in all the Majors, he did have 3 Top 10's and a T22, so I guess I'd say he hung in there, for the most part.
The Players Championship is also a great field at a great course and while you might be wondering what took me so long, I'm going to go with Jordan Spieth. It will be hard for Spieth to top his amazing 2015 season, but I think this event would be a perfect addition to his trophy case. And while I don't see him being a multiple Major winner in 2016, I do think he will win 3 times and have a total of 11 top 10's.
OY...If you're like me when you think of Jordan Spieth and 2016 your mind goes to the Masters. His T2 at Augusta was a topic of conversation for weeks and some of it wasn't pretty. The pressure and expectations were beyond anything I could understand, and the Players was his first tournament after taking a month off after the Masters. Unfortunately, it included a MC. It was a bit of a roller coaster season (from a fan perspective), but he did card 2 wins and 8 Top 10's in 21 events. So I was a little off for the year on Spieth, but for what it's worth, he's still a favorite of mine.
It was hard not to pick Phil Mickelson to win a major (my heart is wondering what is wrong with me!). But I do think we're going to see a win this year from Phil as well as a charge again at the Masters. Go Phil!
So, I wasn't wrong about Phil not winning a Major this year, but that was about it for me - sadly, Phil missed the cut at the Masters and we didn't see a win (unless the Ryder Cup counts!) -but he did have 3 2nd place finishes so it wasn't all bad for Lefty.
Another heart pick that didn't make my Majors list was Matt Kuchar...I still think he has a Major coming, but this year I think is going to be a 1 win season with 8 top 10's as he gets ready to represent at the Ryder Cup!
Ah, Matt - or as the fans like to say... KKUUUUCCCHHH! Always a heart pick for me, Matt had kind of a ho-hum season, no wins, 3 Third place finsihes and 10 top 10's in 26 events. But for me the best part of 2016 was the Ryder Cup!! I'm hoping we might see a little surge from Kuchar in 2017 - will he make my Majors list???
With all the focus on Jordan Spieth in 2015, Bubba Watson's year didn't make top-fold news...Watson had 2 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds, earning over $6.8 million. His only 2 missed cuts? Two Majors, the US and British Opens. I think he will continue with his 2 win streak in 2016 and will win the PGA if Jason Day doesn't.
It was an odd year for Bubba Watson - with all the expectation of the Ryder Cup and needing to see proof he was worth a pick may have been part of the cause for some blah play this year - he did go to the Olympics (with bronze medalist Matt Kuchar!) but then ended up being a vice-captain at the Ryder Cup instead of a player. He got 1 win at the Northern Trust, and if I wanted to really stretch it I could call the Ryder Cup a 2nd win, but otherwise it wasn't much to write home about. And Bubba never contended at the PGA...so I guess I might have to re-think my expectations coming into 2017.
So, I contemplated putting him in my post because, well, it's been a long road of disappointments, but I've got optimism going for me so....let's have a win for Brendon de Jonge!! This journeyman golfer (averaging around 30 tournaments a year) gave me a glimmer of hope in the fall of 2014, but since then has shown a solid middle of the pack game. I'm not sure where, but he's going to make a run and I'm going to be there to cheer him on! (or write about how crazy I am a year from now).
Alright, it's official, I'm going to have to give up on Brendon deJonge...it was a rough season - 30 events 19 missed cuts and only 2 top 25's for the year. A few glimmers (T11, T13) but just nothing breaking through for him. Maybe if he realizes he won't be in my 2017 predictions he'll prove me wrong!! Crazy wins.
I'm looking for improvement years for Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney...one of them will get a win.
Clearly Mahan did not get my memo last year...currently ranked 409th in the world (WHAT?!), Hunter is currently 0 for 4 in cuts in the wrap around 16-17 season, to go along with only 1 top 25 finish in 22 events, including 13 missed cuts. Come on Mahan - we want more!! Nick Watney only got 2 events in in 2016 before injury took him off the golf course. He's coming back in 2017 and needs to earn some money as his major medical extension will be ending...currently ranked 451st in the OWGR, both he and Mahan have something to prove.
I'm going to do some research on the new guys on Tour so I can't say much (but I'll do a post soon!), but I think we're going to see a few more first time winners this year, besides the several we saw this past Fall.
We did see some more first time winners in 2016 - 15 in all (I think)...I think I'll be needing to do some studying on new players for 2017, too!! I call this one a win because I need one!!
I will be rooting again for Erik Compton....I had high hopes last year, so this year I"m just going to say that I think he's going to make more money in 2016 and he'll continue to make a difference both on and off the course - that's a guarantee.
Well, not an awesome year on the course in 2016 for Compton, earning just over $247K in 24 events (Compared to over $650K in 2015), but that won't stop my from being a fan and keeping him on my heart pick list!!
My final few just for fun: Lee Westwood will have a win and 6 top 10's. Charles Howell III will also get a win and mosve up the OWGR to break inside 100 at some point in the year. Paul Casey is going to have a good season with a win and a run at a Major. Kevin Kisner gets another win in 2016. And I think your winner of the Hyundai TOC is going to be Jason Day!
So I might have gotten a little over-zealous with Westwood - he only played 7 events on the PGA Tour in 2016 (4 of them being Majors) so idea of the Top 10's was a bit unrealistic...he was in contention at the Masters, but otherwise not too much to write home about...I'm still a fan so I hope we might see him more in 2017. CHIII did not get a win in 2016, but had some moments, including 5 top 10's. Howell did break inside the 100 mark on the OWGR several times in 2016, the lowest being 80th after the Byron Nelson, he's hovering right around the 100 mark as we finish the year.
I'm calling Paul Casey a win! He had a great year, over $3.88 million in earnings, and he did make a run at the Masters with a T4. Kevin Kisner didn't get that 2nd win in 2016, but had a T3 to make a run at it.
And I was not right about Jason Day - it was actually Jordan Spieth who won the SBS Tournament of Champions in January.
So, overall...other than my awesome DJ pick at the US Open I think I was about par for the prediction course for me. Heart picks aside, I think we had some surprises and we're going to see more new faces to think about for 2017!!
It was fun to look back and remember the 2016 season (and of course I mean calendar season - I'm still not used to this wrap around season!) But what I will remember mostly, which now that I think about it I can't believe I did no predictions on it, would be the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
I'll see you again for 2017 predictions coming soon! Thanks for catching up with me!!