18 bold predictions for 2018-19
October 10, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods' top 5 shots at 2018 TOUR Championship
Justin Rose has barely had a chance to celebrate his impressive FedExCup victory but once again we are away on the PGA TOUR with a new and exciting schedule and Playoff format ahead of us.
Tiger Woods has ensured the anticipation for the new season is palpable with his win at the TOUR Championship, perhaps signaling what could be an epic season of the old versus the new.
Woods and his fellow vets trying to take down the ever-replenishing young stars promises to entertain us from week to week. But ultimately just one will win the FedExCup.
We’ve already had an excellent start with a heart-warming father-son narrative thanks to Kevin Tway’s win at the Safeway Open… but what else is coming around the corner?
Well the start of a new year always offers up the chance to foresee what is to come. Without further ado here are 18 bold – and some not so bold – predictions for the new season.
18. Dustin Johnson will continue his win every season streak.
Perhaps the least bold of our predictions given you can count on this like clockwork. In all of his 11 seasons on TOUR Johnson has at least one victory and we expect he pushes that to 12. The significance of the next win is even greater given it will be his 20th on the TOUR and will see him become just the 38th player to get there. All but six of those are in the Hall Of Fame and one of those six is Tiger Woods … a lock to be there.
17. Someone will win in back-to-back starts.
Bryson DeChambeau showed how momentum can be very helpful at times when he opened the FedExCup Playoffs with two wins. This season expect someone to win in consecutive starts in the regular season. This might not be from one week to the next, but it will be in consecutive starts for said player.
16. Tiger Woods will get into either of the last two groups on Sunday at a major.
We will stop short of predicting Tiger Woods will definitely win a major championship thus creeping closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 but we will say he will have a significant chance to. He has a significant history of success at Augusta National (Masters), Bethpage Black (PGA Championship) and Pebble Beach (U.S. Open) and knows how to play links golf (Open Championship) better than most. The reality is, if Woods is to actually threaten Nicklaus, he needs to add to his 14 this season.
15. Cameron Champ will belt the cover off a golf ball at some point… well maybe not… but he will set all sorts of driving records.
We have long become accustomed to big hitters on the PGA TOUR. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy … and others like Luke List, Trey Mullinax and Kevin Tway continue to wow us with their raw power. But Champ is going to take it to new heights. Already he showed what he is capable of, leading the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee in the season opener. If he can jag a win in the fall we might see the longest drive on TOUR ever at the Sentry Tournament of Champions …
14. Another big name will come off “best player not to have won a major” list.
Think Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker … perhaps even Jon Rahm. In recent years we’ve seen the likes of Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Justin Thomas, Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day come off the list … it is now someone else’s turn.
13. Sungjae Im will replicate recent feats of Xander Schauffele (2016-17) and Keegan Bradley (2011) by winning at least twice in his rookie year.
You might not know the young South Korean yet but you will soon. He led the Web.com Tour regular season money list from start to finish thanks to bookending wins and 11 more top-25 finishes in between. Ask around those who played against him and you will uniformly hear that he’s the real deal. Not convinced? Well in his first start this season last week he was just one shot out of a playoff and finished T4. Watch this space.
12. Brooks Koepka will win something that is not a major … and may win another of those also.
The PGA TOUR Player of the Year has just four wins in his career … but three of them are major championships. Clearly he knows how to get up for the big ones. This season we expect he will get up multiple times considering he is starting fresh without the terrible wrist injury that held him back early last season. Driven by perceived slights Koepka may have to dive deeper for motivation… because everyone knows how good he is by now. He’s a stone-cold machine inside the ropes.
Brooks Koepka earns Player of the Year honors
11. Royal Melbourne will produce a stunning Presidents Cup that comes down to the last two singles matches.
The last time the U.S. Team took on the Internationals it was particularly one-sided. And the Americans have a significant history of success in the Presidents Cup. But with the event heading to Australia on a sand belt gem of a course that was the site of the Internationals only win … there is some room for optimism. Coupled with a friendlier qualifying system for the International team we are suggesting that a thrilling finish is in store. Will it be a local Australian player with the chance to create history?
10. Tony Finau will win, maybe even multiple times.
Doesn’t sound that bold? Well while it is true Finau had a sensational season last year the reality is he still only has one victory to his name and it came in Puerto Rico in 2016. Finau had 11 top-10s last season, including three runner ups, but if he is to really cement himself at the next level trophies need to materialize. For the record, we think he will win and it would not be a surprise if it was on the biggest stages.
9. Jordan Spieth will bounce back with a multiple win season.
Wow. We didn’t see last season coming for Spieth. Five wins in 2015. Two in 2016. Three in 2017. But none last year for the former FedExCup champion who didn’t qualify for the TOUR Championship for the first time in his career. He spent a large chunk of the year at the back end for Strokes Gained: Putting stats but towards the end there were some moments of light. This, and just his competitive nature, has us predicting a bounce back year. Spieth will not only win, he will do it more than once, and rejoin those at the top echelon.
8. The US Presidents Cup team will not include Phil Mickelson on the playing roster – ending his streak of all U.S teams since 1994 - but captain Tiger Woods will earn a spot.
There has yet to be a Presidents Cup without Mickelson playing but Royal Melbourne will be the first. With 48-year-old Mickelson cutting back his playing schedule and with his far from stellar efforts in Paris recently the veteran will join the team where he can do the most damage. The assistant captain room. And with Woods set to push his way into his own team, Mickelson’s value off the course will be even higher. Woods is set to become the first playing captain in forever, unless he passes the role over.
7. The FedExCup finale, under the new format, will be decided with an eagle on the final hole Sunday.
We have a while to wait before we get to the season finale at East Lake where it becomes a winner take all for the $15 million FedExCup prize. The strokes advantage should provide a seriously thrilling dimension to the contest. Can someone make up 10 strokes over the four days? They’ll have to play aggressive and exciting golf that’s for sure. And it is in this vain we predict the 18th hole at East Lake, a reachable par-5, is going to create super drama. Someone is going to eagle the hole Sunday to secure the cash.
6. Moli-Wood will continue their rise.
European fans will never forget the heroics of the pair at the Ryder Cup. Chances are they will never pay for drinks again on that side of the Atlantic. We expect the confidence will spawn further. Tommy Fleetwood will win his first PGA TOUR event and Francesco Molinari will be a serial contender wherever he tees it up before adding a third TOUR win to his name.
5. For the first time ever there will be three sub-60 rounds in the one season.
In the last three seasons on the PGA TOUR we’ve seen three rounds of 59 and a round of 58. The trend to low numbers is out there enough that just having a sub 60 round is not that uncommon. In 2017 we had two, coming in consecutive weeks. So in order to be bold… there will be three in this season alone! The talent gets better and better and deeper and deeper every year and the best players are playing at new tournaments often. Open the floodgates!
4. Jason Day will reemerge as a major championship threat and will win the US Open at Pebble Beach.
Plenty of players are looking at the major venues this season and licking their lips and the former world No. 1 Day is no exception. He’s contended at the Masters a few times, he enjoyed Bethpage Black when the FedExCup Playoffs was there in the past and he’s always played well at Pebble Beach. He will return to his excellent record at the U.S. Open which reads five top-10s from his first six starts before he has missed the last two cuts at the event.
Jason Day gets it done on the sixth playoff hole at Farmers
3. The PLAYERS Championship will be decided in a playoff that includes at least one world top 10 player.
The PLAYERS Championship returns to a March date with the new schedule and as such brings a few unknowns to the exact conditions the guys will play under. Not since Rickie Fowler outlasted Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in 2015 have we seen the excitement of extra holes on the Stadium course but this season the exhilaration will return. Not only will we get bonus golf … but it will have at least one player from the world top 10. Currently this means the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy … Watching them in the 3-hole aggregate across the intense finishing holes will be epic.
2. Justin Thomas will win the Wyndham Rewards Regular Season Race
Thomas, the FedExCup champion in 2017, will set himself up for another great chance at it by winning the regular season points race. This year the top 10 finishers in the regular season pick up an extra bonus and we think that Thomas will be the man to lead the way into the Playoffs.
1. Tiger Woods will break Sam Snead’s all-time win record
A year ago the bold prediction regarding Woods was that he’d play regularly on TOUR again… now we are prepared to take that up quite a few notches. With his win at the TOUR Championship recently taking his win total to 80 on the PGA TOUR he now has Sam Snead’s all time win record of 82 firmly in his sights. Overtaking it this season would mean Woods needs three wins – a bold suggestion indeed – but one thing you should never do is write off a champion. So instead let’s champion a historic season.
Act III, Part 14: Tiger Woods wins the TOUR Championship