We're at the cusp of a new season, so let's throw out a few predictions for the year ahead! Your three Devil Ball honchos will probably be wrong, way wrong, but it's not like this is going to be catalogued forever, right? Right...? Anyway, away we go ...
Sponsorship issues will loom large. How much return on investment do sponsors get for their golf spending? That's going to be a question that many big-name companies will need to answer for themselves this year. Don't be surprised if the sponsor of at least one PGA Tour tournament decides that their money might be better spent elsewhere, particularly if said tournament continues to struggle to attract the biggest names in golf.
The majors will have a familiar look. I have absolutely no basis for this prediction, but since nobody knows what the hell is going to happen in any of the majors anyway, I'm going to say we'll have far fewer first-time winners this time around. Last year, you'll recall, we had four of four. Expect a few familiar names to take home golf's biggest trophies. Like our next prediction ...
Tiger Woods will win a major in 2012. Yes, this is coming from me, who hardly ever raves about Tiger any more, so it must be true! I really think we will see a Tiger win in 2012 because I think the guy just needed some confidence, and he got that at the Chevron. Sure, you can argue it was a silly season event that didn't matter, but that winning feeling matters, and Woods found it. I think he will be in contention again at the Masters, and even if he fails to win there, I think the majors align for him this season and we could see him put together a great ball-striking week at Olympic or snag the Claret Jug at Lytham.
Kyle Stanley is our best candidate to recreate Webb Simpson's 2011. He is an incredible young player, and he had four top 10s over his last 10 starts this past year, plus, he seems like the type of player that can get more comfortable as time goes on. I like how far he can hit it, I like how consistent he is with his irons, and I feel his putting will improve in 2012 and we could see Stanley snag multiple wins.
Rickie Fowler will finally win a PGA Tour event. He's been oh-so-close on multiple occasions over the last couple of years, but for some reason, Rickie Fowler hasn't been able to close the deal on the weekend. I think all of that changes this year. He finally won his first professional event in October, taking down an international field in South Korea that included Rory McIlroy and Y.E. Yang, so I expect his confidence to be at an all-time high. I wouldn't be surprised to see him win early in the year on the West Coast and then capture another late in the season.
American golf will return to the major stage. Remember all that talk last season about the "great American drought" in major championship golf? Well, I think Keegan Bradley's win is going to be the start of an American resurgence at the majors. I don't expect a sweep of all four majors, but I think you'll see an American flag next to two of them (Tiger at the U.S. Open; Dustin Johnson at the British Open).
And there you have it! Your predictions as the season opens, friends?
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