Now that the PGA Tour is about to kick off the West Coast swing, it is a good time for some thought on what to expect for 2013. In retrospect, 2012 was a really good year. I have already reviewed the season's majors here, but the rest of the season had tons of intrigue as well. Tiger won three times, Rory won three times and took player of the year honors, and a new crop of rookies made their mark as well.
One enormous change for 2013 will the how players qualify for the PGA Tour. Q-School, which has been around since 1965, will no longer be a part of the equation. There are numerous perspectives on why this rite of winter will no longer award PGA Tour cards, with many folks saying that the PGA Tour players are trying to make it harder to get onto the Tour so that the current players can keep their jobs. This is a popular theory, but I have a slightly different perspective. I think the commissioner Tim Finchem was having a hard time finding a sponsor for what is currently called the Web.com Tour and offered up that this tour would be the only gateway to the PGA Tour. This would add to the intrigue of the development tour and make sponsors want to play a bigger role and pony up more money to be a part of it.
In either case I still feel this will be a very exciting year to watch unfold. My headlines for this next year are:
Tiger Wins the Masters and Two Additional Tournaments in 2013
Of all the majors, the Masters is the easiest for Tiger to win. It's features a small field, a course with which he is very familiar, and he's long overdue. The only hesitation I have with this prediction is that since they made the changes to the course, Tiger has not done especially well there. Certainly he has not dominated as he did in his early years. Still I feel that since 2008 he has come into Augusta with some sort of issue hanging over his head, and in 2013 barring any moving fire hydrants he should come in free of distractions and in position to win. The two additional wins are likely one in the early part of the season on the west coast, and then one later in the season such as the WGC event at Firestone.
Jason Dufner Wins Twice, Once in a Major, and Claims the FedExCup
2012 was a fantastic year for Dufner. He played extremely well during the season and then was one of the extremely bright lights in a sea of disaster at the Ryder Cup. His steady play proved he can handle the nerves of a major championship better than he did at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011. I cannot say for sure which major he'll win - maybe the U.S. Open - but Dufner is on a fantastic vector and should have a great 2013.
Bo Van Pelt Wins Early in the Season, Then Claims his First Major
My other breakout player prediction is Bo Van Pelt. His stats are fantastic and has already won once in Asia at the end of last year. He is, as we say in baseball, a five-tool player, because he can drive it long, is a good iron player, and his area of biggest improvement is putting. I expect big things from him, and he may even have a bigger year than Dufner.
With the Equipment Change to Nike, Rory Struggles in 2013
I could be very wrong here but I am extremely leery of Rory making such a big equipment change in the middle of such a successful career. Yes, Tiger did, but he also took some time to adjust once he switched. Graeme McDowell struggled when he changed and Rory will struggle as well. 2013 will be majorless for Rory. He may get a win internationally, and possibly late in the season for 2013, but the pressure will be mounting because of the big contract Nike signed with him. He will start to get questions about if the switch caused him to struggle and it will weigh on him. I expect Rory to struggle a bit.
I will throw out there, that in general if you disagree with me then you are probably going to be more right than me. I am pretty awful at predictions, and I made some pretty bold ones here. If 2012 was anything it was very unpredictable and I expect much the same from 2013.
What does everyone else think for 2013, who do you think we should watch out for?
Photo credits: © Golfweek.