A fearless prognosis that looks like a donation
meIn my previous incarnation as a sports columnist in Augusta, Georgia, I started each year with a prediction column. Normally, I would recap the established successes* and failures of the previous calendar year before venturing into the realm of the unknown that a new sports season can bring. It was one of the funniest futile efforts of the year, but always a good post-holiday conversation starter.
* While there was a surprisingly decent amount of good guesses among the many misses over nearly two decades of annual predictions, the high mark was reached in 2004 when the column predicted: Phil Mickelson bounced back from his worst career season to finally break his maiden major at the Masters; the Boston Red Sox reversed an 86-year curse by winning the World Series; and recently resigned Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, who opted to return to college football later that year for the longtime South Carolina Gamecocks. If only he had received some cash in Las Vegas on that improbable trifecta.
Golf has ventured into uncharted waters over the past year as the disruption of LIV Golf continues to send waves of unease across the professional and amateur landscape. The PGA Tour has changed its schedule formula in an attempt to stay strong in the highest echelon of the game. LIV CEO Greg Norman promises more disruption. The lawsuits are still pending. It seems like a good time to dust off the crystal ball and try to make sense of what the game might throw at us in 2023. So here’s a fearless forecast of what promises to be another bumpy golf season:
- Another handful of players will stake their competitive souls for Saudi riches before LIV Golf’s first full season kicks off in February, but the departures won’t be as seismic as some of the big names who departed in 2022. The only top -50 the defeat will be Mito Pereira from Chile. The Colombian Sebastian Muñoz will be added to the South American squad. Despite persistent rumors, there won’t be any major defections like Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele or Viktor Hovland, at least this year.
- LIV Golf will hold a five-day hearing in early February to decide the fate of the DP World Tour suspension and fines to reneging members that a British court suspended last summer. It is difficult to compare the case law in the UK to the US, but if there is any real justice, the Euro Tour will have the right to apply their rules and penalties as they see fit and prevent LIV golfers from hitting their courses.
- LIV will buy their way into some sort of TV arrangement. It’s essential that the model grows, and surely some major network or streaming service (Fox? Amazon?) is willing to take the Saudis’ money to air some David Feherty jokes.
- As a karmic mulligan for the travesty (in hindsight) that happened at the Open 150 in St. Andrews, the golf gods will finally grant Rory McIlroy his career slam with victory at Augusta National in a duel with Cam Smith.
- It will be a big year for the Euros on the big stage, with Jon Rahm (PGA Championship at Oak Hill) and Tommy Fleetwood (British Open at Hoylake) joining McIlroy as winners, and Viktor Hovland taking the Players Championship . The only major American winner will be Will Zalatoris at the US Open in Los Angeles.
- Team USA, however, will conquer their road demons and hand captain Zach Johnson a victory at the Ryder Cup in Italy – 16-12. The American team is simply too deep to fail.
- The European women win a record third consecutive Solheim Cup in Spain: 14½-13½.
- Lydia Ko wins a major championship in the process of crossing the threshold of the LPGA Hall of Fame and retires at the end of the LPGA season as world No. 1.
- Michael Thorbjornsen beats Gordon Sargent to win US Amateur heavyweight battle at Cherry Hills. Rose Zhang wins USA Women’s Fan in relative home game in Bel-Air.
- With Honda exiting after 42 years as the title sponsor of the Florida swing tour event, the 2023 Honda Classic may be the last at PGA National. If so, the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook could take over the late February date with the Houston Open returning to the regular season rotation after the Players Championship. Davis Love III’s RSM Classic at Sea Island would be a top contender for the regular season if something else opens up.
- Tiger Woods will play and make the cut in three majors at Augusta, Los Angeles CC and Hoylake. The PGA Championship at Oak Hill will be skipped this year. He’ll still win the PIP pot because even small doses of Tiger move the needle like no one else.
- The OWGR will give LIV Golf an ultimatum: at least make 36-hole cuts or you will not get world ranking points. This is one area that LIV might be willing to fold, reducing the individual leaderboard to 30 or so, while everyone still plays for the team component.
- Patrick Reed’s frivolous lawsuit against select members of the media will be laughed out of court, but not before Reed probably adds me to the list just for saying that. Hopefully he will be ordered to pay court costs for everyone who bothers him with his baseless claims.
- First-time tour winners this season will include Cameron Young, Sahith Theegala, Davis Riley, Callum Tarren, Hayden Buckley, Greyson Sigg and two Taylors – Pendrith and Montgomery.
- This year’s Scottie Scheffler, who went from winless to No. 1 in less than 50 days last season, will be Cam Young. Once he breaks his maiden, he will add several wins before the end of 2023.
- Rickie Fowler goes all the way back with a PGA Tour win.
- Assuming he was right about Xander Schauffele staying with the PGA Tour, he will be rewarded with a FedEx Cup title at the end of the season.
- Neither Phil Mickelson nor Bryson DeChambeau will win any LIV Series events. Its competitiveness is in an extreme situation: money for nothing.
© 2023 Global Golf Post LLC
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