Happy Holidays! Well, now that the Tour season is officially over, I guess it's time to dig out my "predictions" post from back in January to see how I did. I was nervous...I couldn't really remember what I said, except for that I was sure Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar were mentioned. Okay...let's see how I did!
I think the first question on everyone's mind is probably, "when is Tiger coming back"? My guess is that he'll be back for sure at the Masters, and possibly one or two events before that.
HA! Yes! I'm calling this one a win. There was a lot of speculation going on back in the beginning of the year (remember some people guessing he wouldn't play at all in 2010?). Boy, did Tiger make the 2010 PGA Tour season an interesting one!
My first predictions...the Majors...the courses are amazing this year and I think that has to play a factor in who is the right winner for each track. Tiger obviously has to be considered for all of them this year, but I think he'll come through at the British Open (at St. Andrews) for his 1 major in 2010 (but he will have a multiple win season).
Ah, whoops! I think the fact that Tiger didn't win in 2010 proved to me that he is more human than I gave him credit for...which isn't a bad thing. And for some strange reason I think I like him a little more because of it.
As far as predicting the British open winner, I'm pretty sure there weren't a lot of Oosthuizen picks out there, so I don't feel too bad.
There would be nothing I'd love to see more than Steve Stricker winning a major in '10 (or all 4!! The Stricker Slam...I like the sound of that!) And as much as I want it to be at the Masters, I think Stricker will ride the wave of all his Wisconsin fans and take home the Wannamaker Trophy at the PGA Championship being held at Whistling Straits (T2G may need an on course reporter...I'm available!).
Ah, dang!! No Major for Stricker this year, but he did have a respectable T18 at the PGA. BUT, Steve had 2 wins this year (Northern Trust & John Deere), made 19 of 19 cuts, and had 13 top 25 finishes. He is also currently 6th on the OWGR. You can already bank on Stricker being one of my 2011 Major winner predictions!
Well, that leaves us with the Masters and the US Open...I'm going with Phil Mickelson at the Masters. I'm feeling a great year for Lefty and I think Augusta has a lot of love for Mickelson. If not Phil, Kenny Perry will be back to erase the scar from 2009. Mickelson will win 3 times this year.
YES! Another win for me. But obviously was a little off on the 3 win season...although Phil did have a 2nd place finish, and a 4th at the US Open that at least showed he was in contention. I do think one of the biggest stories was Phil's quest to become #1 on the OWGR, which never happened. I hope that it will be a drive for 2011 though!
I love Pebble Beach, and in US Open conditions, it's going to play tough! A guy that had to endure a tough season last year is going to reap the benefits in 2010...I see Padraig Harrington coming through for yet another major. If not Harrington, I think it might be Lee Westwood.
Whoops...what the Harrington was I thinking? At least he made the cut! Westwood was a decent back up pick (T16), but I can honestly say that the Champion, Graeme McDowell, was not on my radar back in January...but he sure is now!
The Players Championship is another favorite event of mine and I think you might see Tiger taking this one home. But if still on his "leave of absence" then watch out for Jim Furyk.
Hmmm...I think I mean to say Player of the Year, not the Players Championship for Furyk! Dang. But I'm SO happy for Tim Clark for his win at the Players. I didn't remember that Davis Love had a T4 finish at the Players, too! Nice.
I am totally on the Ricky Fowler fan bus, and I think he's going to contend in many tournaments...but alas, I don't think we'll see his first PGA Tour win until 2011.
YES! Fowler had 28 starts, 20 cuts, 2 second place finishes, a T3, 4th, and 3 T5's. I'd say I nailed his season in my prediction. Fowler impressed me at the Ryder Cup and it's quite possible he may see his first PGA Tour win in 2011.
Matt Kuchar will improve his place on the money list in 2010 - he had a great 24th place finish in 2009, but with another win this year, and contending in 2 majors, he will be inside the top 20. Go Matt!!
Ah, Matt. Where to begin...Hmm...did he improve his place on the money list? Oh yeah, from 24th to FIRST baby!! Talk about exceeding expectations! What a dream season for Kuchar. I think he got a bit tired by the end (and didn't feel great for part of it), and then had the Ryder Cup, so I think that exhaustion was the only thing standing between him and POY...which of course he still is in MY book. Kuch got his 1 win of the year at the Barclays -who can forget that approach shot in the first playoff hole?! But he also had a 2nd at the Bob Hope, 3 third place finishes, and a 4th to highlight is 20 top 25 finishes in 23 cuts made (out of 26 events). His Majors weren't as strong as I had hoped, but he made all cuts and went T24, T6, T27, and T10 respectively. Matt also went from 62nd on the OWGR in 2009 to 13th...nice!! A dream season for Matt and just a joy to watch for me...a win-win!
Also in the winner's circle in 2010 will be Ernie Els...I'm not sure where, but he's ready to win! Also returning to the podium will be Mike Weir and David Toms.
Ah HA! Ernie Els (one of my favorites!) came through for me - he had 2 wins this year and moved up 5 spots on the OWGR to finish at 12th for the 2010 season. He also had a nice 3rd place finish at the US Open. With the news that Els will be playing more in the US in 2011, we may just see this winning streak continue.
Toms almost came through for me with a 2nd and 3rd place finish at the Wyndham and McGladrey Classic, but alas, he did not get a win this year.
Weir had a injury to his elbow that limited his play (that I didn't know about in January!) and his best finish of the year was 6th at the Bob Hope. He has a Major Medical extension for 2011 and seeing him play at the Shark Shootout is a good sign that maybe things are on the mend.
I hope I was a year early in predicting a great year for Justin Leonard - I see a win in the Texas swing this year! I had high hopes in 2009 and we just got a marginal year from him. I also sent some snow down to Texas so he could toughen up this season!
What has happened to Justin Leonard? Dang it. He went from 44th on the OWGR to 115th and had only 1 top ten finish this whole year. I guess I'm still blinded by his passion at the Ryder Cups of years past and just want him to be a factor in events. I'm not ready to give up on him!!
I am predicting that Anthony Kim will not win on tour this year. Prove me wrong AK!
Well, shoot, AK did prove me wrong! He won the Shell Houston Open this year and had some pretty decent finishes before his thumb injury derailed him for over half of the season. Obviously when he read this prediction he was driven to prove me wrong...you're welcome, AK!
Young guns, McIlory and Ishikawa will come close but will be beat out by tour veterans like Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson.
McIlroy earned his young gun status by winning at the Wells Fargo Championship and contending in 2 Majors. Ishikawa only played a few events on the PGA Tour this year and his results weren't exactly anything to write home about - but he did have 3 wins over in Japan...and he's only 19! If he decides to play over her regularly I think he could be a force to reckon with.
Jerry Kelly will win the Kodak Challenge.
Close! But not close enough - Kelly finished T4.
Surprise bright spots will be Vaughn Taylor and Brandt Snedeker. And the "other Lefty" who will have a great 2010 is Bubba Watson...he will be at the SBS in 2011 after a win this season.
THANK YOU Bubba! A emotional win at the Travelers was well deserved for this long hitting lefty. Snedeker was sort of off my radar this year, but he did have 5 Top 10's, including a T2 at the Farmer's Insurance Trust. I love his smile and personality so I hope we'll see him make a run in 2010.
I thought Vaughn Taylor was going to get his first PGA Tour win at the Shell Houston Open this year, but AK beat him out in a playoff - he made made over $1.8 million on tour this season and moved up 134 spots on the OWGR! I'd say that was a bright spot.
Well, there you have it...overall, I'd say I did pretty well again this year!! I over estimated on Tiger and Phil and delightfully under estimated Kuchar's standout season. I thought my Bubba Watson pick was a coup and I was on the money with Fowler and Els. But both McIlroy and AK proved me wrong. I tried to get Leonard to have a great season, but he couldn't pull it off...shoot. All I know is, it's fun to guess!
I'm really looking forward to the 2011 PGA Tour season...we'll see what I can think up for my 2011 predictions in a few weeks.