It's a cold December morning in Minnesota and on days like this my mind tends to wander back to summer and golf! And as we see another year come to a close I also think back to my yearly predictions. If you have followed my yearly crystal golf ball posts you probably know that these are usually more entertaining than accurate, but on occasion I have some good guesses! I'm cringing just a little to read what I predicted because, honestly, this wasn't a year where I followed the PGA Tour very closely. So I apologize in advance if my crystal ball is more horrible than usual - I'll be researching as I go, so let's get to it!!
As per tradition, I will do the Majors first. You know who I want to pick for the Masters. I mean I REALLY want to, but even though he has recently had surgery and hopes to be 100% this spring, I'm going to forego my obvious heart pick and go with my other heart pick - Matt Kuchar. Kuchar held a share of the lead in the final round in 2014 but just couldn't keep it up going into the back 9. He's SO due for a Major and I think this Georgia Tech grad would be a perfect pick for 2015.
Well, this didn't go well! Kuchar made the cut but ended up with a T46 finish at +2...he had 3 even par rounds and a 2nd round 74 which never got him rolling. As I'm sure you remember, it was Jordan Spieth who donned the green jacket with a 4-stroke win over Mickelson and Rose. I'm not going to lie, I did give Spieth a standing ovation in my living room...it was a great Masters!!
The 2015 US Open will be held at Chambers Bay in Washington...this course is an ode to the traditional links courses and with it's coastal location could stir up some interesting weather conditions. I'm of course drawn to the obvious heart pick, and with the 2013 British Open win, this might look like the right course for his career Grand Slam. So this time I'm going with my heart (and my Mom's and Deb's!) and predict that Phil Mickelson will be your US Open winner.
Once again my predicting radar was off...Mickelson ended up making the cut but was T64 out of 75 players. I'm remembering the talk and debate about the Chamber's Bay layout and course "look" and honestly, I just never got into it. This was the battle of Spieth and Dustin Johnson with Spieth coming away with the 2nd Major in a row and all the talk started!! Once again, happy for Spieth but this time would have loved to see DJ capture his first Major. (Really wishing I had flipped the Major guesses between Kuchar (T12 US OPEN) & Mickelson (T2 Masters) so I wouldn't have looked that bad so far.)
The Open Championship (The British) is back at St. Andrews in 2015. The last winner at the Old Course, in 2010, was Louis Oosthuizen, and the 2 prior to that was Tiger Woods in 2000 and 2005. But I'm going with the defending Open Champion, Rory McIlroy. Two Majors in 2014 and feeling confident, I think July will find him keeping the Claret Jug one more year.
Thanks, Rory, for injuring your ankle and withdrawing from the tournament!! UGH. So far, not looking good for me on predictions, but once again I gave a standing ovation to the 2015 winner Zach Johnson, who won in a 3 hole playoff against Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen.
We're back to Whistling Straits for the PGA Championship, and that is one challenging golf course. (Who remembers Dustin Johnson's "bunker or not a bunker"ruling?) It's no surprise that the 2010 champion of the last PGA Championship held at Whistling Straits was Martin Kaymer, and with 1 Major and the Players in his win category in 2014, Kaymer's not a bad choice...but I'm going with Rickie Fowler. It took me awhile to warm up to Fowler, but last year he showed some great ball striking and he put himself into positions to win. I think his 2014 experience will lend to a Major in '15. Fowler will also have at least 7 top 10's and make a run for the FedEx Cup.
Well, Fowler finished T30 in the PGA, which, sadly, was my best of my 4 major predtictions (OY!)...Fowler never got out of the gate and finished -1, 19 shots behind the champion, Jason Day (with Spieth finishing 2nd, 3 shots back). I've been a Jason Day fan for awhile, so it was another standing ovation day as he captured his first career Major!
(I'm almost afraid to keep reading! - but here's the rest!)
I love The Players Championship. We can argue all day on "5th Major" status (or not!), but it's got an awesome field and requires a great combination of patience and pouncing on opportunity. I'm going with a player that got me a Major pick in 2013, Justin Rose. Rose had a T4 at the TPC Sawgrass in '14, but prior to that had less than marginal showings, But a T4 at the Tournament of Champions makes me think he's ready to shine in another big event. Rose will have at least 1 other win in '15 as well.
I knew Rickie Fowler was going to win something!! I just picked the wrong event. Unfortunately Rose didn't even make the cut at this event. This was the event I was introduced to Kevin Kisner (The Kiz) and found myself in the rooting for the underdog when it came down to Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Kisner in the playoff...but again happy for Rickie!! (I'm also reminded that Fowler's girlfriend got almost as much press as he did). So not off to a great start, but let's keep going!
If you read my 2014 predictions, you may have noticed that I was on a little Tiger Woods bandwagon. Apparently I was drawn into the pre-season hype (or had a concussion) and instead we got 7 events and a sore back. According to PGATour.com, he's the #2 player to watch in 2015, but I don't think I'm going to fall for it this year (for Pete's sake, I picked him to win the FedEx Cup title last year!!) I think he's going to get a win in 2015, I hope he plays at least 14 events and brings some of his fans back to the ropes, but that's as far as I'm going for TW.
Hmmm...so I was on the right track, but Tiger, and continuing health issues, only had him playing 11 PGA Tour events in 2015 and the closes he got to a win was a T10 at the Wyndham Championship in August. And from what I can tell, I'm not sure he'll be a factor in 2016, other than his influence as a Ryder Cup vice-captain. I had high hopes for a comeback, but I guess it might take awhile. PS...while looking for 2015 info I see that Tiger is currently ranked 299 on the OWGR...WOW!
Speaking of the FedEx Cup, I'm going to go with Bubba Watson. I think he's going to have another season with at least 1 win, 5 top 10's and at least 50% of his events in the top 25.
Bubba didn't win the FedEx Cup (it was hard to beat Jordan Spieth in 2015), but Watson did have a great season! He carded 2 wins, 10 top 10's out of 19 events, and was in the Top 25 14 times...I'm taking this as a half win!
Alright, I'm going to get it over with now...I'm going to choose to forget his stats in 2014 and focus on the fact he was in a playoff at the McGladrey a few months ago coming up just short..so Brendon de Jonge WILL win in 2015! (Let the insanity continue!)
Oh, Brendon, why do you do this to me?? Besides a T5 at the Shell Houston Open, de Jonge didn't have a whole lot to write home about, but he played in 31 events and who knows, maybe 2016 is his year??!!
I'm so excited that Erik Compton will be playing in his first Masters in 2015!! Compton met or exceeded all of my expectations in 2014, so I don't want to get too crazy, but I'm throwing out this challenge for him in 2015 - he will break the $2 million mark in earnings for the season, he will have 3 top 10's, and will make 70% of his cuts. As far as the Masters goes, Compton will make the cut and finish in the top 25. GO ERIK!!
Well, I came up a bit short on my possibly aggressive predictions...Compton earned just shy of $675,000 in earnings, playing in 28 events and making the cut in 17 of them (60% cut rate!)...unfortunately, no top 10's but he did have 3 top 25's, and made the cut at the Masters finishing 51st. Still a favorite of mine, so I'll keep rooting him on!
FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel will have a nice 2015. He will win, contend in 2 Majors, and will make it to the Tour Championship.
Uh, this one was a bust...Horschel had a 3rd place finish at the Valero, and 9 top 25's, but missed 6 cuts in 28 events and was not really a contender in any of the majors. Sigh.
Adam Scott will make another run at the Green Jacket but will come up short to Kuchar. Scott will win, maybe in Texas, and may be your FedEx Cup winner if it's not Bubba.
Yikes, another not so great year for one of my favorite players...Scott didn't win on the PGA Tour in 2015, and surprisingly, missed 4 cuts out of 15 events and 2 T4 finishes was the best he could do (but did have an awesome final round 64 at the US Open!) I'm going to have to ponder this for 2016.
Last year I predicted Jordan Spieth wouldn't win in 2014 and he didn't...but this year, I think he's going to win, maybe twice, and make a run in a Major. Watch for 6 top 10's from him.
How funny is this??!! I make it sound so, ho-hum...and there was nothing Ho-Hum about 2015 for Jordan Spieth! How about 5 wins (including 2 Majors!) and 15 Top 10's in 25 events! (I was surprised to read he had 4 missed cuts, I was expecting he had made all his cuts). Thanks, Jordan, for exceeding my expectations!!
Have you been wondering where Steve Stricker is? Always close to my heart, Stricker will continue on his limited schedule and probably take it slow after having some surgery, but he's got another win in him this year!! I think he'll make it to the FedEx Cup playoffs and make it to the Top 30. And maybe, just maybe, a little of me is rooting for a Masters win this year!
Clearly, my heart got in the way of reality here...Stricker played in 9 events, made the cut in 7 and had no top 25's, finishing 174th on the FedEx Cup list, not making it into the playoffs. On the Upside, he will be in Minnesota for the 2016 Ryder Cup as Vice-Captain!!
Another favorite player of mine, Bill Haas, went winless in 2014, so I think he's going to get a win in 2015 and contend at the US Open.
I'm taking another Half Win on this one!! Bill Haas DID win in 2015 at the Humana Challenge, finishing -22. Unfortunately he didn't make the cut at the US Open.
Winless since 2012, Keegan Bradley is another player who will break through with a win in 2015. He will also better his cut number to only 3 missed cuts and 5 Top 10's.
Dang, no wins for Bradley in 2015, but he did have only 4 missed cuts and 3 top 10's for the season. Close, but no gimmie for me.
I think I've finally forgiven Jimmy Walker for knocking me out of the Make the Cut Challenge at Buzz Fantasy Leagues last year. I think we're going to see Walker have another hot start in early 2015 with a win and 3 top 10's. He will also make the cut in all of the Majors.
This was ALMOST a great prediction!! Walker had 2 wins before March the Sony Open and the Valero Open, with 3 Top 10's (6 for the season)...and he made the cut in 3 of the 4 Majors (Dang you PGA Championship!)...another solid season for Walker, earning just over $4.5 million and finishing 16th in FedEx Cup points.
This year I'll end with Sergio Garcia. Garcia will post 2 wins on Tour this year and be a contender in 2 Majors, fall just short in both. He will also make a run at the FedEx Cup title.
No wins for Sergio in 2015, and no runs at any Majors (unless you count the Players!)...and 53rd on the FedEx Cup points list isn't exactly what you call a run...but he's still one of my favorite players. :)
There you have it - my best golf thoughts as we stroll into 2015. I'm still not crazy about this split year Tour season, so for the record my overall results include all events in the 14-15 season, but wins only count in 2015 only. Oh - one final prediction - the Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner will be....Patrick Reed!
Can I just say THANK HEAVENS for the "one final prediction"??!! YES YES YES!! Patrick Reed did in fact win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, beating Jimmy Walker in a playoff - WOO HOO!! Reed had a decent year, earning just shy of $4 million with his win and 2 other Top 10's in official events. THANK YOU Patrick Reed for making this review of 2015 end on a high note!
So there it is...all the ugly truth that I'm pretty much terrible at predicting what will happen on the PGA Tour...but if I do remember correctly I did have a good year of predictions a few year's back...check it out here.
Thanks again for catching up with me...I'll be putting my thinking cap on for 2016, but if the fall swing is any indication, I'm going to have to brush up on some of the new guys on Tour. Crystal Golf Ball coming soon!
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!