It's hard to believe it's PGA Championship weekend already. I feel like I was just thinking about the Masters and now, here it is August. They say time flies when you're having fun, but for some reason it feels like I'm running out of golf time and I haven't been on the course nearly enough this year!! I guess I'll put golf thoughts here just to keep my heart happy.
Golf, for me, has consisted of pretty much only golf scrambles. I did play a little in June, but life and weather sometimes just get in the way. I am really missing my "me time" on the course. Right here, right now, I'm going to make a pledge to find my Ipod charger, get my music loaded and get out in the evenings over the next few weeks. But the times I have been able to golf have been awesome!!
I'm a big scramble fan and I love the team approach to golf...the ladies events we play regionally have been fun.
A golf friend who had hurt her wrist last year is back in action and it's been awesome to play with her again and just hang out. Her competitive spirit makes me smile every time we are together.
This past week I played in a 2 person event with one of my favorite golf pals...we can ham & egg a decent round with the best of them, but this year we've had some times where we just couldn't make a putt or we left ourselves with some struggles for par. When we got to the event we found out we'd be playing in a group with 2 young gals who are currently playing college golf...and the course we were at was their home course. I've always been a fan of the underdog, but I'll be honest, I wasn't feeling all that good about our chances...and after one gal out drove us by about 40 yards on the first hole, I felt myself hoping we could just keep it respectable.
It's time...the week that dreamers wait for...the United States Open Golf Championship. This is where anyone with a qualifying handicap can try their luck, beat the odds, and find themselves in the field of 156 golfers, including the best players in the world.
If you know me, you know I love great golf stories...as I followed the local and sectional qualifying, I wondered which golf dreamers would have their stories continue all the way to Erin Hills. As a Minnesotan, I was cheering my heart out for all of the guys who made it to sectionals and were playing for a chance to play in the US Open all over the country. Sadly, none of our Minnesota guys were able to advance...but considering there were less than 80 spots for over 970 competitors, the odds were tough. But I have no doubt we'll be seeing their names in the golf news in the future.
The thing about sectional qualifying is that there are a great percentage of players who are professionals...and some current players on the PGA Tour. I've wondered what the reaction is of those players are when they see PGA Tour guys in their field also trying to make it to Erin Hills. The Columbus site was brutal, 122 players with a long list of PGA Tour players who were vying for 14 spots to get to the US Open....but after 4 play-off holes, Scottie Scheffler, from Dallas, TX, advanced to Erin Hills with a (a) after his name. According to hookem.com, Schelffler, a junior at the University of Texas, is on his way to his 2nd US Open. And since I have some Texas friends, I'll throw out a "Hook 'Em Horns!" during the week.
As of Sunday, there are 14 amateurs in the Erin Hills field...12 from the United States, one from England and one from Chile. What I learned through researching some of these players is there is a World Amateur Ranking and 7 of the 14 players heading to the US Open are in the top 50 in the world Amateur Ranking. Joaquin Niemann, from Chile is currently the #1 Amateur player in the world, and right behind him is Maverick McNealy at #2.
Niemann, who is only 18, travels the world to play golf and will be heading to the University of South Florida in the Fall...his rise to #1 in the world has been through Junior Tournaments.
Maverick McNealy, who was #1 in the Amateur Rankings until being unseated by Niemann last month, will be graduating from Stanford in June. An interesting article in the Mercury News on May 25 shares that McNealy will have a summer full of events before he announces whether or not he'll turn pro some time in September. The article indicates he's planning his summer as if he'll turn pro, but he also has aspirations in the business world, so we'll just have to wait and see.
Here's a quick re-cap of the rest of the current amateurs in the field at the US Open at Erin Hills, WI.
Mason Andersen - 18 years old - committed to the Univ. of Arizona
Cameron Champ - 22 - plays at Texas A&M
Christopher Crawford - 23 - golf coach in PA
Brad Dalke - Univ. of Oklahoma Senior
Scott Gregory - England Am Champion - also played in 2017 Masters
Stewart Hagerstad - US Mid-Amateur Champ 2016 - Low Amateur in 2017 Masters
Scott Harvey - Age 39 - 2014 Mid Am Champion - from South Carolina
Walker Lee - 19 - attending Texas A&M in the fall
John Oda - Junior at UNLV
Alex Smalley - Junior at Duke (medalist in sectional qualifying)
Sahith Theegala - Sophomore at Pepperdine
In 2016, of the 11 amateurs who qualified to play in the US Open (which Dustin Johnson won) only 1 made the cut - Jon Rahm.
Here's hoping we get another great story this year...good luck to all the dreamers!!
Come Monday, the last 10 sectional qualifying events to get into the US Open at Erin Hills will happen around the country. The dreamers are getting ready - both amateurs and professionals alike, to get into the 156 man field in which just shy of 9,000 applications were accepted in the local qualifying. We're down to less than 1,000, playing for around 100 spots...19 of which have been secured.
Two sectional qualifiers have already happened in Japan and England. Four players advanced to the US Open in the Japan qualifier including Chan Kim, a 27-year old from Gilbert, AZ...I thought it was interesting that a guy would go all the way to Japan to try to qualify for the US Open, but then, according to Golf Digest, he stayed and won the Mizuno Open and then qualified for the British Open, too! Just like that, and Chan Kim is in 2 Major fields.
The qualifier in England had 111 participants fighting for 15 US Open spots. Of note, Andrew "Beef" Johnston and Richie Ramsay, will be heading to Wisconsin next week. Unfortunately, Padraig Harrington, won't be making the trip.
Since the US Open is about dreamers, I can't help but search out those Minnesota dreamers hoping to tee it up at Erin Hills. After searching each of the qualifying spots, here's what I've found...
Donald Constable is heading to Maryland, in a field of 50 players, to qualify...with a smaller field, there may only be a few spots available so he's going to have to bring his A-game. Notables also playing in Maryland are Jason Gore and Billy Hurley III to make it.
Two more Minnesotans will be heading to Georgia, with an even smaller field of 36. John Hafdal from Prior Lake and Jeff Kringen from Long Lake will hopefully make it! Hafdal played at Bemidji State in MN and according to one of his Tweets this is his first time advancing to sectionals. A Professional at Spring Hill Golf Club in Minnesota, Kringen made it to sectionals by birding the 2nd playoff hole to get the last spot. Good Luck in Georgia!
Springfield, OH will find 3 Minnesotans in the sectional...Sammy Schmintz (who played at the Masters last year!), Thomas Campbell, and Jon Trasamar. The field of 77 also has James Hahn, Tony Finau, and Brian Stuard competing.
Cameron White, from Plymouth, MN, will be teeing it up on Monday in Memphis, TN in the field of 108 which has a few notables as well - including, none other than, Steve Stricker!! Now of course I'll be rooting for Cameron, but we all know where my heart is. Also playing in Memphis are Retief Goosen, Ian Poulter, Robert Garrigus, Harris English and Chris Stroud. The larger field should have a few more spots to qualify into.
Erik Van Rooyan from St. Anthony, MN is in a smaller Dallas, TX field of 58 where he'll be competing against Ryan Palmer and Hunter Mahan. Van Rooyan was a Minnesota Golden Gopher, but his Twitter account says he's from Johannesburg, South Africa, where he's playing on the Sunshine Tour there. Hey, we'll support our Gophers!!
Linwood, Washington, is where Will Holmgren will be trying to make it to the US Open...the field of 70 didn't have any big standout names in it, but it will still be work to make it past most of the other dreamers. Holmgren is a sophomore at North Dakota State University and graduated from Wayzata High School. What an awesome accomplishment to be in the sectionals for the US Open! Go Will!
The last Minnesotan I found (and I apologize if I missed anyone!!) is Sam Matthew from Roseville, MN. Sam will be playing in the qualifier in Columbus, OH on Monday, along with a pretty long list of PGA Tour players who are probably playing at the Memorial Tournament as I type this. The field is 120, so there should be over 15 spots available, but here's just an abbreviated list of names that caught my eye: Keegan Bradley, Smylie Kaufman, Davis Love III, Luke Donald, Ricky Barnes, Nick Watney, Luke List, Martin Laird, KJ Choi, and Vijay Singh. Also playing here is another heart pick for me, Erik Compton!! Sam's got a lot of work to do, but I'm hoping for the best for him!!
There are a few other sectionals where I didn't find any Minnesotans, which include California with a field of 123, Florida, with 49 players, and New Jersey with 80 qualifiers.
Monday should be a fun day!! I wish I could keep track of it all, but I'll be golfing myself.
Go Heart Picks!!
The US Open at Erin Hills is next week!!
I love golf.
One of my favorite times of year has begun...the journey to the US Open. Now that Q-school has disappeared, the US Open Qualifying process is now the place for dreamers to bring their best in the hopes that they may be one of 156 golfers to see it up at Erin Hills this year.
This journey won't be easy, though. According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), 9,485 golfers applied to compete - some may be exempted into the sectional qualifiers, but most will start at one of the 114 local qualifers (18 holes only!) for their shot at one of the 12 sectional events, 10 of which are being held on June 5 throughout the US.
The current statistics are these according to the USGA web site - there are 8,979 players competing for 525 spots. That means less than 6% of the players competing will move on. That means, with a average field of 78 players, only 4 or 5 will move on.
And if you're lucky enough got move on from there, you're up against the automatic sectional qualifiers plus the best from all the local qualifiers (looking to be about 980 golfers) playing for the remainder of the 156 spots after all the exemptions have been filled. Right now the exemptions are at 51, but there are 2 more potential tournament winners in addition to anyone making it into the top 60 in world golf ranking points at 2 more dates before the open. So those 980 players may be looking at between 85 - 100 spots. So of the top 5% or so from the local qualifiers, only around 10% of those will make to Wisconsin and Erin Hills.
Since my heart is in Minnesota, I had to go out looking for the fields in the 2 US Open Qualifiers being held in the state. Unfortunately, they don't have the hometowns of the players listed so it's hard to figure out who to check on without doing searches for each name. But the top of list on the May 8 Qualifier at Midland Hills was familiar to me - Donald Constable - Constable made it to the PGA tour back in the Q-school days so I'll for sure be rooting for him! Minnesotan (now a resident of Georgia) Clayton Rask also has an entry, although I'm not sure where he is playing yet.
And then as I was scrolling through, not really recognizing any names from prior years, another name popped up - Dominic Rosati - Dominic has played at our local men's tournament for several years, but now must be in college and he's putting his hat (and $200) in the ring for a chance to advance. That is awesome!!!
I'm going to have to do more research to find out who the Minnesota players to watch are, but I'm sure there will be no shortage of action since there are 25 qualifiers on Monday.
Here is where you can find the list of local qualifiers: http://www.usopen.com/qualifying/local.html and you can click on the course to find the current tee times & field.
I'm already looking forward to the stories...the dreamers who will advance to the sectionals and be one step closer to the US Open Championship. I'm off to do more research and get ready to root for Minnesotans!!
It's been a month since I've stopped by to write, but I've thought about it so many times!! Even with all of the ease of technology, the idea of hunkering down and writing my thoughts just hasn't climbed up the priority list. But this past week, as I was listening to PGA Tour Radio I couldn't help but think a little longer on several topics, events, and controversies that have popped up recently. So while my friend Sam Johnson could call this "scatter shooting", I'm just going to throw out some random thoughts.
The Masters...Oh goodness...what a week!! You would have found me on Twitter sharing some thoughts, and I can't quite believe I didn't follow up with a blog post - I LOVE THE MASTERS!!! From the early week weather, the cancellation of the Par-3 contest, and DJ's tumble down the stairs, there was a lot to talk about even before the first tee shot was hit on Thursday morning.
And then there's the ceremonial first tee shots - Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and missing Arnold Palmer. It was emotional for me to watch and I can only imagine how special it was for those who were there. I also loved that Rickie Fowler was there! (I'm realizing right now that there is so much more I could say about the Masters so I'm going to try to contain it!) The 4 days played out like a drama and I found myself cheering out loud and groaning at missed opportunities.
The Sergio, Justin, Rickie and Jordan groups didn't go as I had expected and the Sunday final 9 holes did not disappoint!!! I loved that Sergio got his first Major and he looks darn good in a Green Jacket. My heart did wander to Steve Stricker many times (and I LOVED that he was a featured group on Masters.com so I watched just about every single one of his shots!)...he was so close to getting another invitation for next year, but alas, he's going to need to find another way to earn his way in. I know it was more than 2 weeks ago, but I've still got the Masters on my mind!
And then...after all that, I read on Twitter that Lexi Thompson has been assessed a 4 stroke penalty and is now in jeopardy of losing the ANA which she had a commanding lead in going into the next round. You've read the articles, you've heard the bloggers and commentators give their 2-cents on it and well, frankly, it still doesn't make sense to me.
One viewer - one viewer, called in after the 3rd round was over and claimed that Lexi did not put her ball in the same spot after marking it on the green. That would result in a 2-stroke penalty...and since it wasn't discovered until after her round was over and her 3rd round scorecard signed, she'd get another 2-stroke penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. They told her as she was heading to the 13th tee and the drama ensued - despite the emotional punch in the gut and hear score changed, she found the composure and will to birdie the next hole and more and had an eagle putt to WIN ANYWAY but alas, was not able to convert. Instead, she tied, going to into a playoff with So Yeon Ryu, eventually losing on the 18th hole.
Since then there has been an unbelievable amount of comments and debates about what happened and how it should be handled. Many PGA players also voiced their opinion, many of them saying Lexi was a victim. But not everyone shared that opinion and several said regardless of how it was found, she did, in fact, breach a rule of golf. The debate about whether a viewer should have the ability to influence a player's score by making a phone in request for a review is still going on. The USGA & the R&A have done some immediate modifications to the rule, but as some have said, it hasn't yet eliminated the phone-in viewer.
I watched her interview earlier this week in Texas and it was still emotional for her...and I get it. Some people have said, "don't worry, this will just make her stronger" - and while that may be the case, my mind keeps telling me that she missing a trophy that she deserved. Oh, the rules of golf...
Fast forward to this weekend!! The Zurich Classic going with 2-man teams with Alternate Shot and Better Ball alternating formats over the 4-days. When I saw the press release several months ago I was excited!! I love team golf (I know some don't) - and while I haven't seen any on TV yet, I did listen a little in the car and it seems like the players are liking it, too!! Interesting teams and I know I need to read up on how some of them came together. SUPER excited to see Stricker and Jerry Kelly on the higher end of the leader board after day one! Loved the comment that last week on the Senior Tour they were the youngest team and this week at the Zurich they are the oldest team...Well, Go Old Guys!!
I haven't swung a golf club yet in 2017, but I feel it coming soon! Mother Nature hasn't exactly been kind in Northern Minnesota the past few weeks, so I hope that means we'll have a summer full of sun! Contemplating a new driver but otherwise house projects trump golf purchases this year (ha, these words will be tested by the end of the season!!).
Oh, how golf makes me happy. I'm smiling right now thinking of friends and fun events coming up and hoping for the same for you. It was nice to be back and jot some thoughts down, even if they might be considered "old news"...but heck, I still think about the Ryder Cup just about every day, so I guess it's nothing new for me.
And I should say I'm excited about setting up the BirdieBall putting green I won in their Masters contest!! It's amazing!! Now it's just finding the right place for it. I'll post pics and a review soon!
Happy Place, here I come!!
It's here, it's here!! I don't know about you, but I've been waiting quite awhile for this week to arrive. I try not to get too excited too early, but this year just feels like there's going to be some great golf and all kinds of players in the mix.
As I'm sure you might have read, one player who won't be in the mix is Tiger Woods. There had been speculation for months on whether he'd be teeing it up or not, but I saw the Tweets that told us he'd be at the Champions dinner but would not be playing.
If you haven't browsed the field yet, you should!
You can find it here: www.masters.com/en_US/players/player_list.html
There are currently 93 players in the field with a chance for someone to punch their ticket to Augusta with a win at the Shell Houston Open.
Not just anyone can get into the Masters...players are invited based on a list of 19 qualifications. The number one criteria is Past Champion. There are 18 past champions currently in the field, 11 of which are playing based solely on their Past Champion status. This is a lifetime invitation!
Other Major Winners receive a 5-year invitation, and this year will be the last year for 2012 British Open Champion Ernie Els, unless he can find another qualification for 2018. Els is currently the 409th ranked player in the world, so it seems his best bet is to finish in the Top 12 at Augusta or in the Top 4 at another Major this year. I'm rooting for him!
All full FedEx Cup points PGA Tournament winners get an invite and there are 9 players heading to the Masters with this as their only qualification...players include, James Hahn, Charley Hoffman, MacKenzie Hughes, Billy Hurley III, Rod Pampling, Pat Perez, Brendan Steele, Brian Stuard, and Hudson Swafford.
Being the Top 50 on the World Golf Ranking (OWGR) gets you an invite, too! Top 50 at the end of 2016 plus, Top 50 the week before the Masters. Four players moved into the Top 50 in 2017 to get their invite...Jeunghun Wang, Hideto Tanihara, Tommy Fleetwood, and Ross Fisher played their way in, with Fleetwood moving from 99th at the end of 2016 to 33rd this past week.
I can't believe I waited this long to bring up my favorite player...Steve Stricker!! Stricker is back at Augusta because of his Top 4 finish at the British Open last year. The only other player making it to the Masters based on a Top 4 finish alone was Daniel Summerhays, who finished 3rd in the PGA Championship last year by carding a -4 (66) in his final round. Summerhays (who I didn't know much about) earned his PGA Tour Card in 2011 and has improved on the money list each year since, earning just over $2 million in 2016, but he's going to need some inspiration this week only making 6 cuts in 11 events so far this season.
A neat thing about the Masters invitee criteria list is that there are 5 qualifications for Amateurs...Amateur Curtis Luck from Australia qualified as the US Amateur and Asia-Pacific Amateur champion...I'm thinking he might be worth watching!
While some players made it based on 1 qualification, there were 3 golfers who made it by qualifying in 7 different categories. Can you guess? They are: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlory, and Jason Day, with Spieth the only one with a Masters win.
There are currently 18 invitees coming for the first time - can you imagine??!! Amazing! Will we have another qualifying because of a win at the Shell Houston Open?
Regardless of how they qualified, each one of the invitees is in for a week full of challenges, opportunities, and memories. I can't wait to watch it all!!
(More Masters thoughts coming soon!)
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!
Happy Holidays everyone!! It's been a few months since I've blogged (I might still be recovering from the Ryder Cup!!), but I realized now is the time I usually look back to see how I did on some golf predictions I did a year ago. If you know me, you know that I'm having some anxiety right now because traditionally I'm awful at predicting PGA Tour winners...although there's been a few surprise years! I'll be looking up as I go along so it's a surprise to me as I write this.
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!!
I love dreamers. Which was why I loved following all the dreamers working their way to get to Q-school for a chance to be on the PGA Tour. The odds were not good…frankly, they were awful, but still, year after year over a thousand golfers started on the journey that would give only 25 players a PGA Tour card.
As was my tradition, I would scroll through the lists of players at each site, searching for players from my home state of Minnesota to learn about, follow, and cheer on. There were usually 4-6 players to learn about and on occasion, one might make it to the final stage. But there was joy in my journey, living vicariously through their dream, even if most times it had a sad ending.
If you followed my golf blogs back in my Tees2Greens days until well, recently, you'd know that I never really quite hopped on the Tiger Woods fan bus. But here are my clarifications: I always thought he was amazingly talented, I think he did immeasurable things for the game of golf (and Nike), and I always felt he had enough fans so I would put my support behind other players.
Even though I may not have missed him personally over the past few years, I feel like I can say that golf missed Tiger. Well, at least the media has!! The stops and starts over the past 2 seasons has actually had me looking forward to seeing him compete again.
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!