By Zachary Weiss, Jason Havelka, and Brian Stefan
The Masters- Last year was a breakout of sorts for Hideki Matsuyama. I predicted he would get a major last year and that he would win twice on the PGA Tour. The second prediction certainly proved true. This is not just a loyal pick but one which comes with a track record. Typically many of the top finishers fare well and the last two years, Matsuyama placed 5 and T7. All of the talk will be on Rory McIlroy trying to achieve the Grand Slam and Tiger Woods, but quietly Matsuyama will win by three strokes.
Other prediction- As stated above, The Masters tends to reward players who consistently do well and have strong knowledge of this course. Tiger Woods will show flashes from his past and ties for 12th place. It will be Tiger’s best finish of the season.
U.S. Open- Last year my early selection of Dustin Johnson proved to be correct. Erin Hills is a bit of an unknown which makes it harder to predict a winner. Jordan Spieth does have some course knowledge losing in the quarterfinals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur played on the same course. Still I do not think that performance is enough to warrant the nod. With such a wide open field I will go with Branden Grace. Two consecutive top-5 finishes in this event mean that Grace is used to this pressure and has an idea on what is needed to make the third time the charm. Grace has a history overseas with seven European Tours victories and last season won his first ever PGA Tour event, proving he can translate his game overseas. These signs make me believe that Grace will get back in the winner’s circle.
Other predictions- Patrick Reed will be searching for his first major and will lose in an 18 hole playoff. Reed’s demeanor and grit have earned him plenty of fans and it will be these characteristics which will serve him well. Just missing the playoff will be Rafa Cabrera-Bello. This is a man with plenty of name recognition overseas but largely has not done enough to do the same here. I believe he will lead a round or two and stay mostly mistake free until Sunday when a back-nine error ends his chances to win.
Open Championship- I will take a chance with this pick. It’s time for another one of the best players never to have won a major to accomplish this feat. This is not just based on form but also on a general happiness off the course that will allow for less self pressure. This man is Sergio Garcia. At 37, Garcia is starting to run lower on chances to compete and I believe Royal Birkdale makes sense as a track that will help him accomplish that.
Other predictions- Garcia beats Brooks Koepka who tries to come from behind, posting the low round of this year’s Open Championship. Garcia has to make par on the last to win and sinks the 5-footer.
PGA Championship- I finally will go chalk here. Rory McIlroy will get the win. Any pressure and distractions caused by his wedding will be gone and the focus will be entirely on his golf. Not to mention, McIlroy was the winner of the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship, a year in which he shot the course record of 11 under par 61. It is my belief that McIlroy will have a down year by his standards which includes some close calls and maybe a win or two on the European Tour, but this is his highlight of the 2016-17 wraparound season.
Other predictions- Scott Piercy and Pat Perez will be paired together in the final round as dark horse candidates to win, but will fall short.
For the first time since 1998 and second time ever, the International Team will win The Presidents Cup. Golf has been putting more emphasis on growing the game and the International effort in 2015 was very admirable… My FedEx Cup champion is Dustin Johnson. He will win a PGA TOUR event for the 10th consecutive year and though he will not win a major will contend in all of them. Johnson’s putting will continue to improve and he will finish what was not quite completed in 2016… Bryson DeChambeau will win at the Travelers Championship, his first career PGA TOUR victory. This is something which will inspire more publicity over his putting style… Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott will all not win on tour this year.
Jason Havelka – As for My predictions, I believe this years major season will be ruled by previous winners. Maybe even some oldies but some goodies. First off, Jordan Speith is on a roll and I do believe he will remain hot enough to take at least 1, possibly two majors this season. I believe that first major will be the Masters. I also believe that another former Champion gets another major this season…. Phil Michelson.
Phil has been lurking all season long. I believe he will rise to the challenge one more time. With Tiger looking more and more like he will be in hibernation from this point on, Phil will want to rise up and show off his prolonged consistency.
I think we will see Dustin Johnson pull back a bit. Although he will win a tourney or two, there will not be a majors this season.
As for the Open Championship, I think we will see another much older player take a run similar to the one Tom Watson went on. Maybe it could be Langer this season. In the end, it will be Snedecker that wins this tournament.
I think Lefty wins the US Open this year. New venue but one I think will play to him when the time comes.
As for Fed EX Cup Championship, I think we will see Speith return to form with multiple Majors and win the Cup Championship.