Like the 430-yard drive Dustin Johnson hit at Kapalua to within a few inches of the hole on Sunday during his victory in the year-opening Tournament of Champions, so too ought the 2018 golf season be a blast. Some predictions ....
It was almost exactly one year ago that Justin Thomas shot an opening-round 59 at The Sony Open in Hawaii. He went on to win The Sony for what was already his third victory of the young 2016-17 season. Thomas won a total of five times last year and finished in the Top 10 an additional seven times. He took 2nd at The Tour Championship to win The FedEx Cup in September, and he won his first major, capturing The PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte a month prior to that. It all made for a pretty easy crowning of The PGA Tour Player of The Year. Thomas added another win this past October and has vaulted to No. 4 in the world rankings, two spots behind his close friend, Jordan Spieth.
How good is golf right now? Recent world No. 1s Rory McIlroy and Jason Day have dropped in the rankings to 11th and 13th, respectively. Ahead of them are names like Sergio, Rose, Fowler, Matsuyama and Stenson. How deep is the field right now? Remember Adam Scott? He's now ranked 33rd in the world. Phil Mickelson is 40th. Two-time major winner Zach Johnson ranks 48th. Eight-time Tour winner Brandt Snedeker ranks 61st. Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson, barely cracks the Top 100 at 93rd.
The point is that the Top 100 players in the world right now is a list jam-packed with incredible talent from top to bottom. And if that isn't enough, there's a guy who's currently ranked 649th who has won 14 majors, finally has a healthy back and will tee it up at Torrey Pines later this month, a place he's won at seven times. Yes, 2018 is setting up to be a pretty exciting year in golf.Seven Predictions For The 2018 Season
1. Aussie Marc Leishman will win a major. Leishman graduated from good player to good player who can handle a pressure cooker when he went wire-to-wire at The BMW Championship last year, holding off a leader board littered with the top players in the world. He has played in three Presidents Cups, has three Top-10 finishes at The Open Championship and one Top 10 at The Masters. I think this is the year Leishman graduates to yet another level.
2. At the end of The FedEx Cup Playoffs, Spieth will be the No. 1 ranked player in the world. Kapalua winner Dustin Johnson isn't going away any time soon, but it's almost like a 2-on-1 here with Thomas and Spieth both playing off of each other trying to overtake DJ. Spieth will ball-strike, putt and win his way into the top spot before October.
3. My prediction is that Tiger Woods will play in more than 10 events in 2018, and I believe that he will record two Top-10 finishes. This may seem conservative, but I believe Tiger too will take a cautious approach to his golf season. I do think he will win again. I do not think he will win another major.
4. Speaking of win again, I do not think Mickelson will get a victory in 2018. His last victory was the 2013 Open Championship. Tiger has actually won more recently, about two weeks later in 2013 at WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Lefty has come out saying he is extra focused this year. I believe the breakup with Bones is still too fresh for him to turn the corner and get a win. Phil will win again, though, and I think he will win another major.
5. Sergio Garcia will overcome his heartbreaking runner-up finish to Padraig Harrington at The Open Championship in 2007 and take home The Claret Jug this year when The Open returns to Carnoustie. With a major now to his credit, I believe Sergio will have the peace of mind to finish the job this time around. It was a bogey on the 18th hole at Carnoustie in 2007 that forced a playoff with Harrington. Eleven years later, Sergio is a much different player mentally.
6. Tommy Fleetwood will crack the Top 10 in the world rankings by season's end, and Tony Finau will jump into the Top 25.
7. We make the point about how stacked with talent the world of golf is right now, and every season lately it seems there is a new wave of young guns breaking onto the scene. Patrick Cantlay and Austin Cook are a couple who already have a Tour win. Keep an eye on three more as I predict one of them will get a win this season as well: Peter Uihlein, Aaron Wise and former No. 1 world amateur Maverick McNealy.Bet On Golf At SBR's Top-Rated Sportsbooks