Happy Almost 2015! As I was scanning back on my limited amount of blog posting last year I couldn't remember if I had even done a Crystal Ball prediction for 2014...but sure enough, there it was! I cringe just a little because let's be honest, my prediction career hasn't been the greatest (although 2013 was my best yet!)...but I sure have fun doing it. Let's see how things went...
But now it's time to move on to 2014!
As usual, I will start with the Majors. Last year I decided to let go of my dream to see Steve Stricker win at Augusta and went with Dustin Johnson instead. That plan didn't work, and after seeing how well Stricker played in 2013, even though he didn't win, he has earned his spot as my pick to win the Masters. A girl can dream, right? (Stricker will win on Tour in 2014, and make 80% of his cuts). So, not a big surprise for me to pick Stricker - but alas, my dream did not come true. Bubba Watson once again donned the green jacket (-8, 3 strokes better than Jonas Blixit and Jordan Spieth). Stricker shot an even par 72 in the first round but then leaked oil the next 3, never really being in contention. My other favorite, Matt Kuchar made a run on Sunday, but he, too, just couldn't finish. Congrats to Bubba!
There has already been some buzz that Tiger Woods has a great chance at all of the Majors this year, but I think we all know there is one player who wants a US Open win more than just about anything. I'll ride that wave of hope and pick Phil Mickelson (2013 British Open winner) for the US Open at Pinehurst. We've heard rumors that Lefty will play an abbreviated schedule in '14 (a la Stricker) and will work his schedule around prepping for Pinehurst..so besides this Major I think Phil will have 2 more wins. Well, a T28 was not what what anyone was expecting, especially Phil. Mickelson never broke par on any of his rounds on the Par-70 Pinehurst, and with 37 under par rounds in the first 2 days, it wasn't looking good for the career grand slam for Phil. Martin Kaymer shot 10-under par in his first 2 days and went +1 for the final two to win by 8 strokes over Erik Compton (YES!) and Rickie Fowler. Not exactly a TV friendly final round, but kudos to Kaymer for a great Major win!
The British Open will be at Royal Liverpool in 2014...the last time it was played there was 2006, and the Claret Jug was hoisted by Tiger Woods. It's been 8 years, could he do it again? I happen to think so and I will pick Tiger to win the British in July. I didn't know in December that Woods would be having back surgery on March 31, so I'm giving myself a little pass on this one. Tiger did make the cut at Royal Liverpool, but barely, and finished 69th out of 72 players to make the cut. Your winner was instead Rory McIlory, finishing -17, 2 shots better than Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. McIlory shot a pair of 66's in his first 2 rounds to be the front runner and favorite for the weekend. Garcia and Fowler made runs on Sunday (66 & 67) but couldn't catch Rory who shot a -1 (71) in the final round. (See Rory below).
Valhalla (Louisville, KY) will be the host of the PGA Championship, and during its last hosting duties in 2000, Tiger once again came away with this Major. But I'm going to stray away from that obvious pick and go with Matt Kuchar. Matt is SO ready to have a Major! His 2012 Players victory has set the stage for him to reach that final plateau of success. Go Matt!! First back surgery for Tiger and now a WD for Matt Kuchar just minutes before his starting time at the PGA. (in case you're keeping track, that makes me 0-4 on the Majors) If I remember, Kuchar fell and tweaked his back and just didn't feel up to playing. I guess that means someone else has to win, and that someone was Rory McIlroy. He outlasted Phil Mickelson, who made a charge on Sunday, almost holing out for Eagle on the final hole, but came up 1 shot short to McIlroy's -16. Also hanging around in the top-3 was Rickie Fowler.
The Players Championship is arguably the strongest field on Tour all year, so it's going to take 4 days of solid play and few mistakes to grace the top of the leader board come Sunday. It might not be a Major, but I think Lee Westwood can bring it home to get one step closer to a Major. Well, Westwood has given me my best finish in predictions with a T6 at the Players. His opening round 67 looked pretty good, but Martin Kaymer posted a 63 and was the eventual champion, holding off Jim Furyk, who made a run on Sunday. Looks like Kaymer had a pretty good year on the PGA Tour.
Rory McIlory was a disappointment in 2013, and clearly was not the pick for the British last year. But we've seen some spark again in late 2013, so I feel safe in saying that McIlory will contend in 3 of the 4 Majors, finishing in the Top 5 in 2 of them, and he will win one of the WGC events. THANK YOU Rory McIlroy! I am giving myself a big win on this one - McIlroy DID win one of the WGC events (Bridgestone) and was top 5 in 2 of the Majors (winning actually!). He was 8th at the Masters, but I'm not sure if we can count that as contending since was 8 shots behind the winner Bubba Watson...but I'd say this was pretty spot on! :)
It was hard not to pick Adam Scott for one of the Majors, but I do believe he will win again in 2014. I'll go out on a limb and say he'll win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, be the runner up at the Masters, and have 8 top 10 finishes. Well, the best Adam Scott could do at the TOC in 2014 was 6th, and he was T14 at the Masters, but he did win in 2014 at Colonial and had 10 top 10 finishes in 17 starts - so I'm giving myself a "pretty good" on this prediction!
Major winners in 2013, Jason Dufner and Justin Rose will both have successful seasons with 1 win each and have 50% of their event finishes in the top 25. One out of 2 ain't bad! We'll start with the bad...Dufner didn't meet either of my predictions, only carding 6 Top 25's in 17 starts and no wins, although he lost in a playoff to Scott at Colonial, so thanks to Dufner, my Scott prediction looks better! Justin Rose, on the other hand, DID have 1 win this season and had 13 Top 25 finishes in 19 starts. Thanks Justin!!
Breakout rookie in 2013, Jordan Spieth will have a decent year but won't win a PGA Tour event.
Wow, I'm calling this a winner! Speith had 2nd place finishes as part of 8 Top 10's (in 27 starts) that put him 15th on the FedEx Cup points list for the season and earned him just over $4.3 million for the season.
2013 FedEx Cup winner, Henrik Stenson will contend in 2 majors and will win one of the FedEx Cup playoff events, but he'll come up short on defending his $10 million payday. I'll take a half win on Stenson since he finished T4 at the US Open and T3 at the PGA and didn't win the FedEx Cup. But he didn't win one of the playoff events, in fact, he didn't make it to the Tour Championship, finishing 52nd on the FedEx Cup points list.
So who will win the FedEx Cup in 2014? It may not be that much of a stretch, but I'm going with Tiger Woods. He's got the Majors on his side and he just seems happier on the golf course again. Wait a second...I picked Tiger to win the FedEx Cup last year? Was I still high from Christmas cookies? This may go down as one of my worst predictions ever, but I'll put an asterisk by it since I didn't know about his back issues that would cause him to only play 7 events the whole season. For the record, he finished 218th on the points list in 2014. Ouch.
Bubba Watson let me down in 2013, going winless, and a part of me wonders if his family and outside the course golf interests have him distracted. But since he's got talent oozing out of his pores, I'm going to believe he's going to win 1 event in 2014 and will earn more than $3 million.
Thank you Bubba! With 2 wins in 2014 (including the Masters), and 3 2nd place finishes, Watson earned more than $6.3 million - I'd say - EXCEEDED expectations!
Hunter Mahan was also winless in 2013, but earned more than $3 million with 5 Top Ten finishes. He's going to contend in 2 Majors and have 2 wins in 2014. I might have been a little overzealous on this one. But Mahan DID win in 2014 at The Barclays so that should bode well for 2015. He didn't exactly contend in the majors, but a T7 at the PGA with weekend rounds of 65-67, still makes him a player to look out for.
Oh what the heck, Brendon deJonge WILL win in 2014!! I won't stop believin'! Why do I do this to myself?? 2014 was not a great year for deJonge with 7 missed cuts and only 4 top 25's in 31 starts with winnings of just over $1.7 million. BUT...deJonge did make it to playoff in the McGladrey Classic in October but lost out to eventual winner Robert Streb (who?), We'll have to wait and see if my insanity will continue in 2015.
One of my favorite players, Erik Compton, will play at least 20 events and make 60% of his cuts. I'll give him 2 top 10's and 5 top 25's to earn at least $900,000. HELLO! Check this out...Compton played in 28 events and made 17 cuts (60.7%), he had 3 top 10's (including a T2 at the US OPEN!), and had 6 top 25's for earnings just shy of $1.8 million. WAY TO GO ERIK!! (and I'll call this a win!)
Jason Day is a likable Aussie that has all the makings to go on a golf tear and put together a string of high finishes. I think we'll see him in the mix in most of the big events and he will make a run at the PGA Championship. I see 2 wins in 2014. Jason Day had 1 FedEx Cup qualifying win (the WGC Match Play) and also the HANDA world cup of golf, so I'm counting that as 2! He only played in 15 Tour events, made 14 cuts, which included 6 top 10 finishes. But he also had 2 WD's and was really only a contender in 1 Major (US Open). Here's hoping 2015 is a little better!
I can't leave out Sam Johnson's favorite, Dustin Johnson...he's got a recent win and his game is looking good. If Scott doesn't win in Hawaii, DJ will defend and will have another win sometime in '14. Oh DJ...known more for his off-course life than his on-course achievements in 2014, DJ was on hiatus starting in August. DJ finished 6th at the TOC and had 4 Top 5 finishes, including a T4 at the US Open and 2 seconds earlier in the year. But I'm guessing golf isn't what we're going to remember about Dustin in 2014.
Well, PHEW...that was a lot!! Overall, I'm at my usual less than average for predictions...Majors were awful, but I still have hope for myself with some of my other picks! I'll have to scan the golf articles and get myself set up for 2015 predictions in the next day or two! I wonder if I am becoming too predictable? :)
One thing I know for sure...I love golf. See you soon!
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