The official 2016 season has begun but like many I still feel like the Tournament of Champions is the official start of the season. The Tournament of Champions is quickly approaching but before we get there like have a bit of fun.
Let’s look at some bold and not-so-bold predictions for the 2016 PGA Tour season. Will it only be names that take the majors this year? Will we see Tiger Woods in an event? How will the Olympics play out? Will anything off kilter happen? How about the anchored putter? Let’s get to it and remember to enjoy.
1 – Rory McIlroy Will Be 2016 Player of the Year
Jordan Spieth really cemented himself last year with a historic season but lost in all that is how well Rory was playing before he injured himself playing around with his friends. At that point in the year he already had two wins and was playing great golf. Obviously he missed time recovering from injury but that time saw his “light” dim and the Spieth and Jason Day took hold. McIlroy is ultra-competitive and watching 2015 unfold will light his competitive fire. Expect him to break through at Augusta and probably win a couple of more times before the year is done. He could be the 2016 Player of the Year.
2 – Emiliano Grillo Will Be The 2016 Rookie Of The Year
What can I say, the man can play. He has all the skills required and looks like a guy that is far removed from being a rookie even though he is. He has already come out this year during the fall stint and captured won the Fryes.com Open. Make no mistake, even though the field is weaker, he can handle himself against the best. I can easily see 10 top-25s, 4 top-10s and a second win before the season ends. That is pretty much a lock for Rookie of the Year.
3 – Rory McIlroy Will Win The Masters
McIlroy was the heir apparent to golf supremacy but along the way he ran into Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. Those two should bring out a motivation in McIlroy that could very well have him finally putting on the green jacket this next April. How sweet would it be to see Spieth putting the jacket on McIlroy? Some notable finishes for McIlroy at Augusta National include fourth in 2015, eighth in 2014, 25th in 2013, and 15th in 2011.
4 – Rickie Fowler Will Win The US Open
Looking at stats that will play of value at a US Open track, you will see that Rickie excelled in a couple I look at for a major championship. His 12th in the All-Around and first in strokes gained putting are both stats that play well at a major championship venue especially the US Open. He does need to tighten up on driving accuracy where he was 163 but that was masked by his third place ranking on approaches from 50-125 yards. Do not be surprised if one small step forward and his new level of confidence end in a major title.
5 – Dustin Johnson Will Win The Open Championship
While it is true that he does not have a major championship to his name, it does not take away how well he has played in many majors including multiple Open Championship’s. In recent years, Johnson was tied for second last year and in 2011, tied for 12th in 2014, and tied for ninth in 2012. Johnson also played well in three of four major championships last year with three top-10s including a second to Jordan Spieth at the US Open on a track with Open Championship similarities.
6 – Jordan Spieth Will Win The PGA Championship
There is an old adage that says you have to learn to lose before you can learn how to win. The adage was paid off in spades. In 2015, his five wins including the Masters and the US Open. In the other two majors, he finished fourth at the Open Championship and runner-up at the PGA Championship. He ended the season with a win and FedExCup title at the Tour Championship. Insane and expect it to continue.
7 – Phil Mickelson Will Return To The Win Column in 2016
Phil has only won five times since turning 40 in 2010 but one was The Open Championship in 2013. It appeared that the big took the edge off of Phil. So much so that he seemed content with just being out there and having a good time. Now a rough 2015 campaign and a charge of life from the Presidents Cup could be enough to get him to fire away again. Watch out for Phil at the Phoenix Open where the fans are many and the course is most definitely to his liking.
8 – Tiger Woods Will Be More Valuable as A Vice Captain Then He Ever Was as Ryder Cup Player
Tiger Woods will be at the 2016 Ryder Cup but will not be playing. It is well documented that Tiger reached out to Davis Love III about being a part of the team. Clearly, he will not be playing on the team but with his issues, age, and even a tad of humility, Tiger will be there to help the young players (See point 9). Oh, and it will probably be the most fun he has ever had at a Ryder Cup. The irony is Vice Captain Woods will be more valuable this year than he ever was a player. It might be shocking but if he embraces the role and the team, his knowledge will be invaluable.
9 – Tiger Woods Will Come To Terms With Mentoring The Future
The career of Tiger Woods is undeniable and I am in the minority that believe the win column is not done for Mr Woods on either the PGA Tour or Champions Tour. However, all the injuries and concerns about his future bring up questions and hopefully a self-realization for him. It is time to open up more, which has happened over the last couple of years, and work with the young crop to help guide them. It might seem weird but to think that an epiphany occurs in his darkest hours is not unrealistic. This would not be a Jordan Spieth type but rather a player like Patrick Rodgers, Stanford alum, or some other prodigy we have not even heard of yet. Papa Woods will be there to help.
10 – Tony Finau Will Big Break Into A Win in 2016
The former winner of the Golf Channels Big Break Disney appears ready to step forward in 2016. The big hitter, who finished seventh on tour in driving distance in 2015, really began to show improvement at the tail end of 2015. He finished tied for 16th at the Barclays, tied for 10th at the PGA after flirting with the top of the leaderboard and even had a top-15 at the US Open. Watch for him at the Wells Fargo Championship or possibly at Colonial.