Five Fearless Predictions for ’08

Knock, knock. Who’s there? 2008.

Trap Five Logo2008 is almost here. What will it hold for the world of golf?

I put that question to a few friends and came up with a couple ideas of my own. The farthest fetched prediction: one friend again predicted that this would be the year he scores a hole in one. He was there when I had mine two years ago, so I’m rooting for him. Of course, he’s been predicting the same thing for several years now.

I have a few predictions about my own game, but I’ll save those. What I want to look at is the wider world of golf. What will the tour players do in ’08, and what might we expect from the manufacturers? Some are long shots, some aren’t. I figure even if I’m only right on one or two, I can always point back to them and say, “See I told you that would happen.”

Number Five: Practically a No-Brainer
Tiger WoodsTiger will win in 2008. Okay, that’s no shocker. How about “he’ll win majors?” Plural intended.

Tiger is due to win the Masters again after finishing T3 and T2 in his last two tries. The other day I was pondering aloud whether a firm, fast Augusta National or a slow, wet one best suits his game. A friend pointed out that the perfect set up for Tiger would be soggy fairways and rock hard, lightning fast greens. Yup, that would probably do it.

But Tiger won’t stop with the Masters. The U.S. Open will take place at Torrey Pines this year, a course on which Tiger has won three straight Buick Invitationals, not to mention four of the last five. In fact, he’s won five of the last nine and finished T2 another year. Sounds like we could very well be talking Grand Slam going into July.

The first two majors shape up best on paper for Tiger, but the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills are certainly in his wheelhouse as well. It might just be a year, we’ll remember for a long time. But winning all four majors would involve a fair amount of luck, even for the best in the world. He’d have to get some breaks, some good bounces, and to have nobody else ride a hot putter or a lucky streak too. At any rate, it should be entertaining.

Oh, and he’ll have a second chance to kiss the FedExCup this year.

Number Four: It’s Hip to Be Square
Some manufacturer will release a square driver with movable weights this year. I haven’t seen one announced yet, but it’s a no brainer.

Even though I think we’ll see it this year (probably at the PGA show), I suspect the usefulness of this one is questionable. The movable weights allow you to adjust the ball flight, but the square shape is designed to hit the ball straight. So in effect, such a driver will be fighting itself. It’s not a great idea when you think about it, but it’s always easy to sell the best of both worlds.

Number Three: The LPGA Will Be Good TV
LPGAThough PGA Tour coverage has been promoting potential rivals for Tiger, they’ve simply failed to materialize. Sure, he has rivals, and any one of them can win on a good week. But when Tiger is firing on all cylinders, there’s not usually anyone close.

The LPGA, however, seems set to feature a full blown drag out brawl of a season. Lorena Ochoa (8 wins in 2007) is number one, but Suzann Petersen (5 wins) and Paula Creamer (2 wins) were coming on strong at the end of the year. If Ochoa and Pettersen continue to run away from fields, they may come to be the next great rivalry.

But Ochoa, Petersen, and Creamer are not alone. There’s a host of challengers close behind. Karrie Webb (6 top tens) is #2 in the Rolex Rankings. Plus, it’s hard to believe that Annika Sorenstam won’t rebound in 2008 to join the fray. And right behind them are another ten very solid players who might catch lightning in a bottle. It should make for a great 2008 LPGA schedule.

Number Two: Comings and Goings
Two past stars who have struggled of late will be in the news again. David Duval will contend in a couple tournaments early, sparking talk of his return to greatness, and then he’ll confound the media by disappearing back to his family. Daly will get divorced or married again (whichever one he’s not now)… or maybe both in the same year. Sabbatini will continue to entertain us with his brashness, but he won’t have as good a year in 2008 as he did in 2007.

Adam Scott will have another year that would be considered good for just about any other player, but we’ll be left again wondering why his promise has not come to fruition. Brett Wetterich will be in the hunt a lot, but will fail to win. Henrik Stenson will again look like he is right on the cusp of becoming all world, but won’t.

The following players will continue the success they had in 2007: Ben Curtis, Steve Stricker, Aaron Baddeley, Zach Johnson, Woody Austin, and Padraig Harrington. Vijay Singh will get the swing back on track after losing it in the second half of 2007. Fading from view will be Colin Montgomerie and Boo Weekley (he just seems to lack the desire necessary to stay at the top). Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia will once again contend in majors, and at least one of them will post a PGA Tour win in 2008.

Number One: The Ryder Cup
Ryder Cup TrophyWe don’t yet know who will be on the team besides at least one guy wearing Nike. The current standings have David Toms and Joe Durant in the top ten. But to date, the standings are based solely on finishes in 2007’s four majors. This is the season that counts. So who’s likely to come through?

Using a very scientific process I’ve been able to predict the U.S. Team make up. Besides the usual suspects (Woods, Furyk, Mickelson) these guys will make it on their own (by finishing in the top ten): Zach Johnson (because he’s down to earth), Steve Stricker (because he’s found his game), Brandt Snedecker (because he’s young, good, and consistent), Ben Curtis (because he’s a Browns fan), Woody Austin (his Aquaman routine will keep the team loose), Scott Verplank (because he always seems to make it), and Bubba Watson (because he has all the shots, if he can just figure out when to use them). Captain’s picks are likely to be Chris DiMarco (he doesn’t have a good record, but his enthusiasm is infectious) and Kenny Perry (for the local boy angle).

The European squad will most likely feature Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Nick Dougherty, Soren Hansen, Paul Casey, Robert Karlsson, and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Colin Montgomerie will need a Captain’s pick to play, but he’ll most likely get it.

When the U.S. squad meets the European team Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, the U.S. Team will be trying to carry on from their strong win in Canada in this year’s Presidents Cup. OK, I know the smart money will be on Europe. They’ve won the last two in lopsided fashion. But this is the year… really. The U.S. will win. The U.S. team learned something in Canada, something about winning in team play. And if they fall behind, they can always throw Austin in a lake to cut the tension. It’s a gut call, and it will be close, but that’s what I’m going with.

20 thoughts on “Five Fearless Predictions for ’08”

  1. 🙄 I read your column and have a question. Is there a guy out there by the name of Phil Mickelson. I thought he was pretty good, at least good enough to rate a mention.

  2. Remember, only 8 players automatically qualify for the 2008 US Ryder Cup squad; ‘Zinger gets 4 captains picks.

  3. Here’s another one for you:

    Jason Day will win more than once on the PGA Tour.

    Big call? We’ll just have to wait & see.

  4. ❓ I cannot believe that you would discount a great golfer and a really good individual like Mickelson. He does so much and I think that he takes a back seat to the one and only. Tiger is really the greatest golfer out there but lets not admit that there is ONLY good golfer. If we do this why watch anymore. Tiger only plays 16 times a year. There are others and Phil is one of the others. I for one enjoy watching golf and Phil is one that I like to watch.

  5. Good article, but there’s one problem with your Ryder Cup predictions. Remember this year Azinger has 4 captain’s picks. So what do you think? Do you see any changes?

  6. Remember, only 8 players automatically qualify for the 2008 US Ryder Cup squad; ‘Zinger gets 4 captains picks.

    Absolutely right! I knew that, and probably repressed it as I was writing because it really makes picking the team really difficult. But OK, so this is a bit of a do over.

    I think it actually enhances Scott Verplank’s chances, because if he’s even close Azinger is likely to give him the nod based on his experience. So let’s call him the third pick. And I think the other player who could be influenced by the four picks is Davis Love III. He hasn’t been playing well of late (Dimarco’s been shaky, too). But if he starts to put it together, Azinger will almost certainly give him the nod over the player with the 9th most points, most likely one of the “Bs” (Ben Curtis, Bubba Watson, or Brandt Snedecker). If I had to guess, I’d say Bubba will get bumped.

    On the European side, I have to admit, I totally blanked on Jesper (who seems to have found his game again) and Luke Donald (I keep thinking of him as a Chicago boy). I like Luke to make it on points and Jesper to make it as the third Faldo pick. I suspect “the Mechanic,” Miguel Angel Jimenez, will actually end up being the fourth pick. I think that leaves Hansen and Karlsson out in the cold in the end.

  7. ❓ I cannot believe that you would discount a great golfer and a really good individual like Mickelson. He does so much and I think that he takes a back seat to the one and only. Tiger is really the greatest golfer out there but lets not admit that there is ONLY good golfer. If we do this why watch anymore. Tiger only plays 16 times a year. There are others and Phil is one of the others. I for one enjoy watching golf and Phil is one that I like to watch.

    I wouldn’t say I’m discounting Phil, I think he will have another Phil year. He’ll win a couple or three times (I’m not feeling a major this year, but there will be more for him). He’ll be in the mix. You’ll note, I also didn’t single out Furyk, who is one of the most consistent players out there (even with today’s messy final round of the Target). I was intending to point out players whose fortunes seem to be on a steep down- or upswing, or those who despite a lot of promise keep falling short. Mickelson has backed up his promise (at least after he finally broke through in majors). He’s one of the elite players. He wins and he’ll continue to win. He’ll also probably continue to be his own worst enemy with his go-for-it style, but that’s also what makes him fun to watch. He’ll have another good year by anyone’s but Tiger’s standards.

    What I’m really saying is that I feel a really big Tiger year coming on. His latest swing change is paying dividends (with lots of zeros), he now seems to be at peace with his father’s passing, and he also appears to be digging being a father himself. The stars just seem to be lined up.

  8. 😯 I agree, although I am a Mickelson fan. I watched Tiger today. He must be really good to shake :mrgreen: off the dust of a long layoff and play the way that he played.

  9. Phil will win at least 1 Major. He has had success at Torrey Pines. I’m sick of everyone giving it to Tiger. Phil will be healthy and ready in 2008 ❗ ❗ ❗

  10. I agree the LPGA makes for much more compelling TV. I don’t watch the PGA anymore. The PGA does nothing to encourage competition. Instead players like Fred Couples and others that are not able to compete against the top 10 continue to take spots that potentially younger players might occupy.

    I think the PGA tour should have a rule that if you don’t show up in the top 10 or even top 20 in a year, you lose your PGA tour card.

    Its boring to watch the PGA, no one realistically can compete with Tiger, why would I watch. I know he can hit great shots, I can never hit them, what I want to see is competition, the players having to work hard to win. Not work hard to place 2nd onwards.

    The PGA sucks, really it stands for the Pussy Golf Association.

  11. I agree, the girles are good, but the guys are better. Being a guy they are what I aspire to. Just like Arnie and Jack, someone will come along to chalange Tiger.
    Maybe it is the money, maybe they make a bit to much. If you can make between 4 and 5 hundred thousand for 2nd place why work so hard?
    Just think how good Jacki might have been if he was serously chalanged.

  12. Look for mike Weir to bounce back and contend in majors this year. No more pain and swing has finally come together. Maybe the biggest darkhorse on the tour

  13. Look for Brandt Snedeker to make a big splash on Tour this year.
    This guy is the real deal. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wins 2 or more this year.
    He is a Nashville boy with both feet on the ground and he hit it running last year. He has the putting touch most of the big boys would kill for and can scramble with the best of them.
    One big problem is his driver but if he figures that out, he can be scary good.

  14. A couple of things…

    Sabbatini should have a terrible year in 2008 now that he is offically the least liked guy on tour after getting outed at the Target. BTW, how much influence does Nike have on the invites for that tourney? I’m not supposed to believe that Tiger would willingly invite him to play, am I?

    I also think you are wrong about Tiger hoisting the Fed Ex Cup in 2008. He has never played much after the PGA in the past, and I believe he did it this one time so that his name would be on it as the inaugural winner. There is no reason to try and get on the Cup again, until someone else appears on it TWICE (unless Sabbatini wins it – then all bets are off).

  15. 😛 I am a golf fan, I love to play and I love to watch most. Even what is on the golf channel. There are only a few that I do not enjoy. Rory is one of those. He needs to go back to the minors and learn some humiliyy and respect. There are two others I have some doubts about but they have redeeming factors. I was not much in favor of VJ after what he did to Annica, and Monty after what he said about Tiger at the first. Monty has seemed to change his position and after seeing VJ with his son at the Fathers and Son’s tournament I am changing my mind in his favor. I still think that he could have sucked it up and played with her. She was probably not going to be there for long, unless they let her compete from her Tees

  16. US Ryder Cup Team;
    Tiger, Phil, Furyk, Zach, Mahan, Toms, Oberholser, Verplank, Glover, Ohair , Stricker and Cink…..and yes Jason Day, Mike Weir and Trevor Immelman will have huge breakouts this year!!

  17. This is a good blog, I enjoy reading it. Thank you. I hope you are wrong about Boo Weekley, I could enjoy watching him. I watched him and his partner take second to Monty and his a few weeks ago. I think he surprised a few. Of course its not Cat Fishing 😆

  18. I didn’t read the entire comment thread, but your comments on the Ryder Cup had me thinking. I really think the US Team should set up Ryder Cup courses in a more straightforward, simple way, closer to a routine, “easy” tour event than a major.

    I think the reason we’re losing Ryder Cups is that, at least in aggregate, Euros are now better at coping with major championship conditions. Set it up a bit more like a birdie fest and watch Mickelson and others light it up.

    I’m pretty sure many will disagree with me on this, but if you want the US Team to win, make the set up easier!

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