Part 1: Ten bold predictions for 2021
December 16, 2020
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- December 16, 2020
- Phil Mickelson made quite a splash on PGA TOUR Champions in 2020. (Getty Images)
Editor's note: Part 2 counting down No. 5 to No. 1 will be published on Dec. 23.
2020 has been a year most of us would sooner forget. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered a great many things, not to mention the human cost.
Golf was the first major sport to return after all were shut down toward the end of March, and in many ways the PGA TOUR provided an early model for dealing with the coronavirus. Based on the success of its protocols and management of the virus, PGA TOUR Champions was able to resume play successfully at the end of July and play nine tournaments before year’s end in a modified schedule.
Rather than rush into a playoff with uncertainty and so few events having been played, a decision was made to extend the Charles Scwhab Cup into 2021, making this a wraparound, super season with what hopefully will be 25 events in ’21 added to the 15 played in ’20.
A lot can happen over the course of two years and 40 events. Here are 10 bold predictions for the rest of the super season, listed in order of conviction to them:
10. John Daly will win.
Beard stays until he beats cancer. 💪❤️ pic.twitter.com/66e9Crpw4u— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) October 10, 2020
Big John is the king of the comeback. He’s battling bladder cancer, and he wasn’t won since the 2017 Insperity Invitational, his lone PGA TOUR Champions victory. He had only one top 10 in 2020 and it was pre-pandemic. But he did have a T12 at the Sanford International, which perhaps not coincidentally was allowed the largest number of fans to attend. Daly’s game is meant for a crowd. And if anyone can lead us out of the darkness of 2020, who better? We’re all rooting for him.
9. Someone will win the event for which he serves as host.
Jim Furyk will join Steve Stricker (American Family Insurance Championship) and Jerry Kelly (Cologuard Classic) as a PGA TOUR Champions tournament host when the Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS event kicks off in October. Stricker and Kelly, the pals from Wisconsin, have made no secret about their desire to win the events near and dear to them. But neither has yet, though each has won the other’s. Kelly gets first crack because the Cologuard is in Februay. Stricker’s AmFam is in June.
8. Bernhard Langer will win after he turns 64 on Aug. 27.
One of the great minds golf has ever seen. pic.twitter.com/xH96fq0G3q— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) December 3, 2020
You saw what he did at the Masters in November. You’ve seen what he has done on PGA TOUR Champions year after year after year. Hale Irwin’s wins record (45) is within reach (Langer is at 41). No, Langer isn’t going to catch him in ’21. But who would be surprised if he cut the deficit in half?
7. Padraig Harrington, who turns 50 on Aug. 31, will post a top-five finish before the year is out.
The Irishman looks like his game will be in good shape by the time his birthday rolls around. He already has a T26 and a T32 in PGA TOUR events in 2020. The three-time major champion might not be ready to win out of the gates, but he’ll find an event or two in which he’ll contend into the back nine on Sunday.
6. Record crowds for a U.S. Senior Open will see Phil Mickelson win his first senior major.
Two-part prediction here. The U.S. Senior Open returns to Omaha Country Club, where it was staged for the first time in 2013 and absolutely crushed it. According to the USGA, corporate hospitality sales were a record $5.6 million, ticket sales topped $2 million for only the third time, and the weeklong attendance of 157,126 ranked second all-time. Now imagine that with Mickelson making his first appearance and assuming the pandemic is over by the time this event goes off on July 8. That would be a perfect storm.