TOUR Insider: Predictions for the season's second halfTiger Woods' second half should feature more success -- and finally another major.May 01, 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
It's the halfway mark of the FedExCup regular season?
Why, it seems like just a few weeks ago we were getting windblown straight off the Plantation Course at Kapalua into the Auau Channel.
Let's make this a special edition of TOUR Insider and look forward to what will happen in the second half of the season. Time to fire up the crystal ball.
Remember these projections are solely for entertainment purposes. Please, no wagering.
Compromise: Thumbs-up or thumbs-down to the anchored putter? It's a topic that has dominated conversation. The PGA TOUR is in favor of the long sticks, while the USGA wants to ban the anchored putter. What will happen? A separate set of rules for the PGA TOUR and the USGA? Nope. Golf is big business and big businesses settle their disagreements with compromises. Perhaps a “grandfather rule” will be invoked where the anchored putter can be used for another ten years before being banned. I firmly believe there is room for a compromise and there will not be separate rules of golf.
U-S-A: What a year it has been for American golf. U.S. players have won all but three PGA TOUR events. We went into April before an international player won a tournament. It wasn't the usual suspects either, as youth has been served. Russell Henley, Michael Thompson, Kevin Streelman and Billy Horschel have all won tournaments and that's not a fluke. You will continue to see Americans dominant the PGA TOUR schedule with a combination of youth and talent.
First-timers: Here are some candidates to win their first PGA TOUR title this summer: Harris English, Jimmy Walker and Cameron Tringale. Everyone in that trio possesses length and is a quality putter. Walker has been quietly building a successful season, English will be a superstar one day and Tringale oozes both charisma and talent.
Multiples: Halfway through the FedExCup regular season, Tiger Woods is the only player with Multiple wins. He will have company. D.A. Points and Brandt Snedeker will pick off more wins. I like Points at the John Deere Classic in his home state of Illinois and Snedeker at the Wyndham Championship.
Luke Donald will win two events in the second half season. I can see a victory at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club. Plus, I predict Donald wins a major championship. What major? Keep reading.
Tiger, Tiger: You can't make predictions without including Tiger Woods. Here are some easy ones: He will be the PGA TOUR Player of the Year. He will win the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average. He will win three more tournaments including a major. I'll break it down for you. He wins two of these three events: The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, AT&T National, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. What major does he win? Keep reading.
U.S. Open: Make no mistake; playing the U.S. Open at Merion is a huge experiment from the United States Golf Association. It is trying to make an historic golf course relevant again, despite modern equipment. Merion will play less than 7,000 yards this June, with an odd mixture of very short par 4s and very long par 4s. The course holds such a special place in U.S. golf history that it is worth the experiment. However, if there is rain that week in Ardmore and if the course plays soft, you are going to see a record low total win the U.S. Open.
It should set up perfectly for Luke Donald. He has not had a good first half in 2013 but in conversations with the Englishman, he has not lost his confidence.
Open Champion: Look at the list of past winners from Muirfield and there are no flukes. Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Henry Cotton, Lee Trevino, Ernie Els, Walter Hagen and Nick Faldo. It is such a pure course and such a total test of golf, that you won't be asking, “who's he?” on the evening of July 21. A well-known, experienced player is going to win.
Tiger Woods got the unlucky end of the draw in 2002, playing in heavy wind and rain. Good and bad luck tend to even out over time. Woods wins his 15th major at Muirfield.
PGA: The winning score at the PGA Championship will be higher than at the U.S Open. Oak Hill is one tough test of golf. The rough will be a thick, juicy four inches and a 90-foot tree will block every shot that misses the fairway. Oak Hill will measure less than 7,200 yards but will be very difficult with its natural elevation changes, water features and trees guarding every angle. Players will complain the rough is too thick and penal considering the fairways are cut at a width of 25 yards. Justin Rose plays well on big golf courses. I can see similarities between Oak Hill and Cog Hill where Rose won the BMW Championship. He is your winner at Oak Hill.
Presidents Cup: There will be two winners this fall, the U.S. team and Muirfield Village. Most of us have never seen the course in the fall and it should be even more striking with its autumnal colors. Meanwhile, the Americans will win the Presidents Cup because of depth and format. Remember, every player competes every day in the Presidents Cup format and that heavily favors the Americans.
Winner, winner: For the first time, a defending FedExCup champion will make his way back to Atlanta. Brandt Snedeker will be at East Lake and while he will defend the title, he won't win. Tiger Woods gets that honor. I know that's not a longshot prediction and not sexy, but it is pragmatic. Woods is once again the best player in the world. The race is not always won by the swift and the battle does not always go to the strong but that is the way to bet your money.
Let's enjoy the second half of the FedExCup season.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.