It’s a new year and that can mean only one thing – it’s time to get the crystal ball out again.
Making predictions of the big moments in golf in January is a thankless task but I’m asked to make these predictions every year so I can only try my best.
The big names will be among the favourites, and rightly so, for the majors but I’m rooting for a Scottish challenger at the Masters in Bob MacIntyre.
As we know Augusta favours the left-handed players and Bob has shown he has a head for heights.
Collin Morikawa is worth keeping an eye on too as his iron play is so good. The American will be eyeing every major this year and I have no doubt the career Grand Slam is now what he is focusing on.
Experience of Augusta often comes in handy too so I think we’ll see the usual faces in the hunt.
Dustin Johnson plays well there while Justin Thomas will take some stopping if he in form.
That’s the key with these predictions in January. Sitting down to think about players just now and I find myself pondering six or seven players.
By the time the first week in April comes round I’ll be looking at the form guide and will likely have whittled my choices down to two or three.
Rahm will win at least one major
Jon Rahm of course, has the potential to win them all. He’s such a good all-rounder and after making the breakthrough at the US Open last year the world is his oyster.
It’s worth noting he has top four finishes in the three other majors so only a fool would bet against him picking up at least one this year.
With the PGA Championship taking place at Southern Hills in Oaklahoma we know it will be hot and testing while the US Open in June is at Brookline.
It will be a different sort of test and when you factor in the crowd which Brookline attracts. Let’s just say you will need to mentally tough to handle that week – especially if the boisterous crowd is not rooting for you.
I know I am biased about Scottish golf but this year the only place to be is the Home of Golf.
The 150th Open is being held at St Andrews with 240,000 fans expected to descend in July.
I will be utterly gobsmacked if Tiger Woods does not make an appearance there. He may be at Augusta but unless he is injured then I think it is a nailed on certainty he’ll be at St Andrews.
I know making the field for the Open is my aim for the first half of the season and I’ll be arranging my schedule to ensure I can earn a place there.
If there are tournaments where the top three places are offering a place in the Open there’s a good chance I’ll be playing in them if I haven’t already secured my place.
Stenson is my pick for Ryder Cup captain
The vacant Ryder Cup captaincy for Europe is an interesting one.
I had the race to succeed Padraig Harrington down to four men but with Lee Westwood having ruled himself out of the running to focus on playing we’re down to three options in Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell.
I like all three guys as future captains but if I was a betting man I’d be putting my tuppence on Stenson.
He’s been a vice-captain, he’s had a great career, he’s a major winner and he has the character needed to lead a team into the tension that is the Ryder Cup match.
G-Mac strikes me as the right man for the job for the 2027 match at Adare Manor in County Limerick.
An Irishman as captain on home soil seems an obvious decision to make.
That leaves it between Luke and Henrik and I think Henrik just edges it. Luke is a former world number one and a fabulous player but if I was to put them side by side I think Henrik just manages to tick a few boxes more.
He has a great sense of humour, is easy to get on with and had a great career. A FedEx winner and former Open champion, the Swede will be 47 by the time the match comes around.
Seems a perfect time to lead the team he played in on five occasions.
Old school green skillset needed for new season
My season starts on Tuesday when I head off for six weeks to play five tournaments.
I’m delighted I’ll finally get the chance to return to the Hero Indian Open to defend my title I won in 2019.
It was a special one for me as my son Jack was on the bag and we’re both looking forward to returning there.
A new year brings new challenges – or maybe I should say old following the decision to ban green reading books on Tour.
It’s an old school way of playing and one I fully endorse. It’s a skill every golfer should have and it one back to basics rule change which I believe will lead to speeding up the game.