2017 Predictions - Part II
February 16, 2017
By Dan Daly
Editor's Note: Be sure to follow @_DanDaly on Twitter this golf season for his off-the-cuff remarks and entertaining commentary!
Welcome back to my Part II of the Weekly Waggle 2017 PGA Tour preview for golf bettors and fans alike.
Here is Part I in case you missed it…or you just really want to read it again.
In Part II, I'll break down the four majors, the FedEx Cup and the Player of the Year is below.
5) PGA Championship – I’m a big fan of Quail Hollow, however I am not a huge fan of the USGA or PGA hosting Majors at courses that otherwise host a yearly PGA tour event (outside of Pebble). There are more than enough very qualified golf courses in this country to host Majors on venues we don’t already see year in and year out. I think part of what makes the three majors outside of Augusta great is that no player preparation on an otherwise unknown course is a huge factor, but that’s just me. The 2017 PGA is a great example of that, or lack thereof.
Outside of Tiger Woods at virtually every Major during the 2000’s, has there ever been a bigger favorite on paper going into a Major than Rory will be at Quail Hollow for the 2017 PGA Championship? The guy has practically owned this course for the past 5+ years, including setting the course record there in 2015. Do I think he will contend? No question. Do I think he will win? Nope. I think with all the pressure and expectations on Rory that week it will open the door to another guy with a good history at Quail Hollow, and a past Major Champion.
Phil Mickelson…Just kidding.
Justin Rose hasn’t won at Quail Hollow but he has quietly racked up a very good record there with a solo third in 2016 and a solo fifth in 2014. He already has a Major and a Gold Medal under his belt and will add Major Championship number two at the 2017 PGA Championship.
4) British Open – Speaking of which, the British Open returns to Royal Birkdale for the first time since 1998, where Mark O’Meara won. But the story that week was a 17 year old Amateur named Justin Rose who burst onto to scene by holing a dramatic shot from the rough for birdie on the 72nd hole to finish in a tie for fourth as low amateur. I tell you this because that shot will be shown and talked about ad nauseam the entire week…you’ve been warned. As for who will win that 2017 British Open…
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 567 times, shame on anyone that picks Sergio Garcia to win a Major. Well, I guess I’m a sucker for punishment, but if Dustin Johnson can win a U.S. Open last year, then to hell with it, Sergio Garcia can win a British Open this year. Yes, I’m serious. Sergio Garcia is going to finally win his first Major in 2017, and the one he covets most of all. He is not only playing well, but almost more importantly, he is happy and seems to be at peace with life. Don’t under estimate how important that is, especially when it comes to Sergio. Sergio has always had the talent to win, he just had a bad attitude and overall unhappiness in life. That all seems to have changed since his engagement.
For bonus points, not only will he win the British, but he will win the Players Championship as well. I think Sergio has a very big 2017 both on the European Tour and the PGA Tour this year.
3) U.S. Open – Unfortunately as long as Mike Davis and the other clowns surrounding him are in charge of the U.S. Open, they will continue to be a bigger story every year than the tournament itself. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, the USGA will do something incredibly stupid involving the course set-up, a crucial ruling and anything else they are involved with that week. On the scorecard, Erin Hills plays 7,800 yards from the tips. I was told that the USGA could push that to over 8,000 yards for the Open (see previous statement). If that is true, and I believe they will, then 98% of the field is already eliminated. That leaves guys like Rory, DJ, Stenson, Day, Matsuyama and of course I wouldn’t count out Spieth at any tournament.
But I think the winner this year comes from a little further outside the Top 10. A guy that hits it a mile, won’t be phased by all the stupid things the USGA will do and is playing well going into the tournament. While there is no way to know who will be playing well four months from now, there is a guy that fits the first two requirements and for the past three years has played his best golf of the year from May to August. That man is none other than Brooks Koepka. I think people were a little too quick to jump on his bandwagon early on and now that enough people have jumped off I think he’s primed for his first Major Championship at Erin Hills.
2) Masters – Sometimes in life the most obvious answer is in fact the right one. For the last two months I wanted to take Hideki Matsuyama here. He has back to back top 10’s the last two years at Augusta and is hitting it better than anyone else on the planet. But his one glaring weakness is the flat stick (I don’t care what the stats this year show), and at Augusta that is really hard to overlook. I think he is a lock for a Top 5 there this year, but when it all comes down to it I have to go with the guy that is the clear cut favorite for a reason -- Jordan Spieth.
Spieth should have won it last year, ran away with it the year before that and has lost to exactly two people at Augusta in the last three years. In other words the guy really likes the golf course. Spieth lost the 2016 Masters because his iron play was atrocious…and still finished second. So far in 2017, it has been nothing short of spectacular. Throw in the fact that he is proving to once again be the best putter on the planet and I simply don’t see any scenario where Jordan Spieth doesn’t go 2-1-2-1 in his first four starts at the Masters. Sure, Matsyuama putting out of his mind for four days, maybe, but I just don’t see it happening. If his iron play stays even half way decent for the next 60 days Spieth won’t just win his second Green Jacket in three years, he might do so going away…again.
1) I think guys like Day, DJ, Stenson and Rory will all have a good year, but not a great one. Day still only has one major to his credit. DJ will contend a number of times and win a handful of events, but no majors. Stenson had four magical days with his putter last July, but is now back to normal. I covered Rory last week, but I just don’t see him having anywhere near the year people are expecting.
Thus, going into the FedEx Cup Playoffs I think you have a three horse race (this is also my Player of the Year rankings):
3rd - Matsuyama who will have four wins under his belt by then, a handful of close calls along the way and Top 10 at the PGA to go with his Top 5 at Augusta.
2nd – Sergio will come in with his first Major, a Players Championship, a Top 10 at the US Open and at least one other mid-level PGA Tour win in 2017. Even though I think he has a spectacular year, I just don’t think when it’s all said and done it will
Your FedEx Cup Champion and 2017 POY - My man Jordan Spieth.
After a delayed sophomore slump in 2016 (only winning twice and finishing second at Augusta), Spieth will win at Augusta, take home another three PGA Tour events (including Pebble obviously) before winning the TOUR Championship for win number five of 2017 and cementing his second FedEx Cup championship and POY award in the last three years.
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