Golf is back. This past weekend was the Sentry TOC and it was electric. 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele had an incredible comeback shooting a 62 (-11 and tied for the course record) on Sunday to beat Gary Woodland and capture his fourth victory at the age of 25.
There are tons of good tournaments in the next couple of months, but the first of the big five tournaments isn’t until March 14th with the Players Championship followed by the four majors each month after that. Below are my very early predictions for the winner of each major championship (plus the Players) and a few other things to look out for this season.
The Players Championship: Xander Schauffele
The past two years at the Players we’ve had relatively surprising winners in Si Woo Kim and Webb Simpson. Although these players have had success on the PGA Tour before, they’re not exactly the biggest names in golf and not many people predicted them to win such a prestigious event. This season I think we’ll get back to having a bigger name hold the beautiful crystal trophy on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass.
Xander Schauffele has already won two tournaments this season and is now ranked #6 in the world. He is playing incredible golf right now and as long as he keeps posting good scores through January and February, he’ll be a popular pick to win at the Players. He has the swing, the putting stroke, and the mentality to win big tournaments and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a breakout win at TPC this March.
The Masters: Justin Rose
Tiger fans will be pissed about this pick, but unless he shows me some great golf early in 2019 then I won’t be picking him to win at Augusta especially after what I saw at the Ryder Cup and in the Tiger v.s. Phil match.
It feels like this year’s field will be one of the best of all time with so many incredible young players winning tournaments lately and the crop of seasoned veterans we have still playing great golf. With that said, it’s hard for me to imagine Justin Rose finishing his career without a win at Augusta, and with his status as the #1 ranked player in the world this feels like the year to do it.
Justin Rose has finished top 10 five different times in his career at the Masters including two different runner-up finishes. He lost in heartbreaking fashion in a playoff against Sergio Garcia in 2017, and it really feels like he is due for a win at Augusta. With the golf he’s been playing, it’s hard for me to pick anyone else but Rose to win the Green Jacket this year.
The PGA Championship: Dustin Johnson
I wanted so bad to pick Jordan Spieth to complete the grand slam here, but he played very poorly last season and I don’t think his game is quite ready to win another major yet. Dustin Johnson, on the other hand, has been consistently dominant for years now, and the fact that he has only won one major seems wrong.
Bethpage Black is an incredibly difficult golf course. In 2002, Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black as the only player in the entire field to shoot under par. DJ has shown he can be very successful at difficult championship courses. His one major victory came in 2016 at Oakmont (well known for its insane level of difficulty), and he had a great showing (third place) at Shinnecock Hills last year where the winning score ended up being one over par. His driving ability is a weapon at any course, but I think it will be his consistency and calm demeanor that gets him the win at the PGA Championship this May.
The U.S. Open: Justin Thomas
Two words: Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open returns to one of American golf’s treasures for the first time in almost a decade and I am incredibly excited. Let the record show, I think Tiger Woods’ best chance of winning a major this year is at Pebble where he won the U.S. Open by 15 strokes (!!!) in 2000, and I expect him to have a great tournament. With that said, I think this one will go to Justin Thomas.
JT has quickly become one of the most popular players in golf, and I don’t think it will be long before he captures his second major championship victory. He has an insane amount of talent and the attitude of a winner. He’s also off to a great start this season with a top-three finish at the Sentry TOC. He’s my pick to win this year at Pebble Beach in June.
The Open Championship: Rickie Fowler
The Open Championship will be at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland this year, a venue that hasn’t hosted the Open in 68 years. Rory McIlroy will definitely be a popular pick to win the Open this year as he will be the crowd favorite in his home country of Northern Ireland. He also holds the course record at Royal Portrush with a score of 61. With that said, I’ll be damned if I don’t pick an American to at least get some revenge on the Europeans for what they did to us at the Ryder Cup last season, and I’m going to have to go with Rickie this year.
The number of times I have picked Rickie to win a major and been disappointed is incredible, but I’m pretty sure if I keep picking him I have to be right at some point. Rickie’s game fits the Open so well with his ability to play in tough conditions and pull off a plethora of shots. His win in 2015 at the Scottish Open showed that he has the game to win in the UK and he has continuously expressed his love for links golf. I have said for a while that I think Rickie’s first major victory will come at the Open, and I think this is the year he gets it done.
- Sorry Tiger fans, you’re going to have to wait at least another year to see him win his 15th major
- With the way Bryson DeChambeau has been playing, I can all but guarantee he will be in contention at least one major this year
- It will be very interesting to see how this year’s schedule works out with the Players moving to March and the PGA moving to May
- Get to know the name Cameron Champ. He’s a rookie who has already won a tournament this season and hits the ball further than anyone on tour. He should pick up A LOT of fans this year