It's November, and that means it's time to start looking forward to the 2011 golf season. The PGA Tour wrapped up its Fall Series last weekend, and the players won't play competitive golf again until early January with the exception of Tiger's tournament in California. Over the next month or so, I'm going to discuss and break down ten questions I have for 2011.
The first question focuses on the two most popular figures in golf, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The 2010 season wasn't great for either, although Lefty did win The Masters. Nonetheless, both will be looking to perform much better next year. Which golfer will win more events in 2011? Keep reading to find out.
What a difference a year makes! This time last year, I was wondering whether or not Tiger Woods would win the Grand Slam in 2010. Not only did he go winless in the majors this past season, he didn't win anything. That's the first time that has happened in his professional golfing career. He finished in a tie for fourth at Augusta in his first tournament back, and he also finished in a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open. Those two finishes were his best in 2010, as he struggled to a 42nd place finish in the FedExCup.
In addition, Tiger lost the number one spot in the World Golf Rankings for the first time in over five years when Lee Westwood overtook him a few weeks ago. There is hope, however, and Woods has shown some positive signs over the last month or so. Sean Foley has come aboard as his new swing coach, and the two seem to work pretty well together. Tiger's performance in the Ryder Cup was one of the only bright spots for the United States team, and he finished in a tie for sixth at the WGC-HSBC Champions two weeks ago.
The Chevron World Challenge, a tournament Tiger Woods hosts, is just two weeks away. This one will be a little more important than the ones in the past, and you can bet he will want to get back to the winner's circle before 2011. The majors don't set up as well for Woods as they did last year, but he always seems to be a contender. Between the combination of the new swing coach and a hunger to return to the top, Tiger is going to be pretty tough to beat next season. He may not ever be as dominant as he once was, but the rest of the golfers better be thankful they had their chance in 2010. There is a pretty good chance Woods will return to the winner's circle in 2011.
It's hard to call Phil Mickelson's 2010 season a disappointment because he won The Masters for the third time in his career, but his overall year was far from great. He had a stretch from his win at Augusta to his tie for fourth at the U.S. Open where he played like a top-five golfer. The rest of his season was pretty underwhelming. He finished 13th in the 2010 FedExCup, and he struggled to a T41 at the WGC-HSBC Champions a couple weeks ago.
Mickelson adopted a new vegetarian diet during the middle of the season after battling with arthritis, and that probably didn't help his golf game at first. And in all reality, he might still be struggling with the changes. Lefty turned 40 in June, so he still has a lot of time to win tournaments on the PGA Tour. It's just a matter of whether or not his health and motivation holds up to the standards he usually sets for himself. The 2011 season is going to be very important for him.
Phil Mickelson will always be a factor at Augusta, and he usually puts himself into contention at the U.S. Open as well. The PGA Championship returns to Atlanta Athletic Club next year for the first time since 2001, a tournament in which Lefty finished second to David Toms. The majors are going to be important as always, but it will be extremely important for Mickelson to win one of the early events in January or February. He has made a habit of doing that in past years, but he didn't get it done in 2010. For him to have a great 2011, he is going to have to get off to a much better start than he did this past season.
The Final Say
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson combined for one victory in 2010, and that's a shocker to say the least. I'm not a betting man, but if I was, I would bet on the two winning a lot more tournaments in 2011. Both guys have been through a lot on and off the course over the past year or so, and both will feel the pressure to bounce back next season.
As far as which guy will win more events in 2011, that will be Tiger Woods. He is quite possibly the greatest golfer of all-time, and while he proved he was human this past season, he isn't going to settle for that kind of year again. A lot of his troubles are in the past, and he has shown signs of improvement the past month or so. Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, really didn't show many positive signs at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how he plays after his usual winter break. Both guys will win in 2011, but Tiger is going to find the winner's circle early and often.
It's your turn to tell me what you think about the article. Who will win more events in 2011, Tiger or Lefty? Also, will either win a major next year? If you have anything to add, please comment below or discuss them in the forum. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the second article in this series.