I’m a sucker for punishment, so I’m marching on with my tradition of trying to prematurely predict each major champion for the entire year with Golf is Mental’s 6th annual Major Championship Predictions.
Last year wasn’t my best season for predictions, but that’s golf. It’s all about how we bounce back, right? I’m feeling rested after an enjoyable off-season, my lift cycles are dialed in, and I’m starting to get my competitive feels back. Here we go.
Winner: Tiger Woods
I’ll admit that last year’s prediction for a Tiger win at The Masters was perhaps a bit ambitious, even for a Tiger fan boy like myself. However, a lot has changed over the past year. Tiger has a full, healthy season under his belt, and he chalked up a win at the Tour Championship.
The fact that he could play Augusta blindfolded has not changed. He was surprisingly bad with his irons at last year’s Masters en route to a T32 finish, which is typically one of his greatest strengths. I suspect this was primarily due to major championship rust and trying to get comfortable playing in those moments again.
Since his last Masters win in 2005, he has played the event only 10 times, but has tallied SEVEN finishes of T6 or better in those appearances throughout injuries and personal chaos. He could get into contention with his B- game at Augusta, and perhaps even win with his B game. Any time he plays here, it’s impossible to count him out.
As a bonus prediction, I’m taking Patrick Reed to go FULL Sergio and miss the cut in his attempt at a title defense, because I’m not sure I can handle another weekend of Pat Reed coverage at The Masters.
Winner: Rory McIlroy
The last time Bethpage Black hosted a major championship was in 2009 when Lucas Glover captured the U.S.Open. While the setup for a PGA may be slightly more timid than what we saw in the 2009 U.S. Open, I still expect it to be a solid challenge. I’m feeling a Rory resurgence this year, and after Rory’s heart is shattered yet again at Augusta and we debate whether Rory has any major championship swagger left or if he’s just fully neutered, he’ll stun us at the PGA with a multiple-shot victory. His last major victory came at the 2014 PGA Championship, and he already has two PGA titles, so the setups obviously agree with him. Why not a third?
Winner: Tommy Fleetwood
I’m excited for the U.S. Open to return to Pebble Beach, but my fondness of Pebble has me a little afraid of how the USGA will mutilate the course setup. It was obvious at the AT&T Pro Am that the fairways were already being narrowed ahead of the U.S. Open, and the rough will no doubt be up. With Pebble’s tiny greens, USGA-narrowed fairways and what will likely be firm conditions, a thoroughbred ball striker with a tidy short game is going to come out on top, so what better place for Tommy to break through for his first career major championship. Plus, his hair is tailor-made for those ocean breezes.
The Open Championship
Winner: Justin Rose
It will be a historic Open Championship when it returns to Northern Ireland in July for the first time since 1951, which was the last time The Open was contested at Royal Portrush. The obvious sentimental pick here would be Rory, but that seems too easy.
I realize it’s a bold play to pick the current #1 ranked player in the world, but it’s going to be the year of likeable thoroughbreds in majors. Since Rose’s Open Championship debut in 1998 where he finished 4th at Royal Birkdale and collected top amateur honors, he has only tallied TWO other top 10’s in this event. However, those have both come in the past 4 years, including a T2 last year at Carnoustie, so links golf seems to be growing on him with age. One of the game’s purest swings will at long last conquer golf’s purest event. I just hope he loses the goofy looking putter by July, for both my sanity and the sanity of the game.
Who are your picks for this year’s major championships?
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