With 17 events completed in the 2016-17 PGA Tour season, the year is more than 33% complete and we are still one month away from the start of the Masters. Here are a few questions about what has happened thus far and a brief look ahead to the Majors.
Who Has Been the Biggest Surprise?
Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas have been the biggest surprises.
Yes, we knew both of these young men could be stars on the PGA Tour, but both broke out with multiple wins early in the year. Matsuyama has been nearly unbeatable on a world stage since last fall and Thomas with 3 wins this year has grabbed everyone’s attention.
The short answer is Tiger Woods and his poor health preventing from making a successful return to the tour. Was Pat Perez correct in saying, Tiger is only trying to keep his Tiger 2.0 Brand relevant and trying to keep the income flowing?
Tiger’s physical struggles are difficult to watch. We hope he can still compete at some level.
What Has Been the Most Exciting Event?
I do enjoy watching the events from Hawaii to open the season, just because I can dream of visiting there someday. I like the AT&T National Pr-Am at Pebble Beach, and I appreciate the history associated with Riviera, but I cannot get too excited about any of these early events, they are just the appetizer before the main course, the Masters.
The Masters is the BEST and the Most Exciting rolled up in one. I watch nearly every minute of it, plus I get to stroll around the hallowed grounds on Wednesday prior to the start of the event.
Who Will Win a Major First, Hideki Matsuyama or Justin Thomas?
Hideki is probably a little farther along in his progress than Justin, but I don’t see either quite ready to win a major yet. Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott and Patrick Reed are the top choices for winning majors. They either already have won or are ready to win a big event. In Reed’s case, he hasn’t won a major, but has performed at the highest level in extreme Ryder Cup pressure situations. He has proven he has the nerve and game to win a major soon.
Is Jordan Spieth Tracking For Another Major Win?
I think he is. His win at Pebble Beach shows that, when he is focused, he does not need his A game from tee to green. Just like Tiger, in days of old, he can win with his short game and less than his best overall. Look for Jordan to get a second Green Jacket at Augusta.
When Will We Hear From Henrik Stenson?
Stenson has had great years before and then he takes some time off and we don’t hear from him until he needs more money. Although, I do expect he will be a factor, I do not look for Henrik to win a major this year.
Can Dustin Johnson Remain #1 For the Long Haul?
I have to say DJ has fooled me. Given his nonchalant attitude on the golf course and his past penchant for messing up in the final round of a major, I never expected him to become the dominant figure, he has become on the PGA Tour.
Yes, I always knew he had the talent to be great, but I did not think he had the mental game to be that successful.
The answer is as long as he can control that fade off the tee and keep it near the fairway, his driver is a dominant weapon and gives him an advantage over everyone else on tour.
I guess, one should never doubt anyone that could catch Paulina.
Will Jason Day Regain the #1 Spot, Win a Masters or another Major?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is more of a question, will his back, and health allow it? He seems to have problems staying healthy.
On more than one occasion, illness or injury has limited his ability to compete. The vertigo at Chambers Bay, his back issues last year. Now he has problems with sinus etc.
Who Is Your Favorite Player to Watch?
I love watching Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIroy. Spieth is the master calculator and Rory just plays with abandon. The best for me would be a Spieth/McIlroy final every week.
Or for a second choice, how about Patrick Reed/Rory McIlroy final in the WGC Match Play in a couple of weeks?
Of the 2016 Major Winners, Who Will Win One This Year?
Danny Willet, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Jimmy Walker are the reigning major champions, plus you can add Jason Day to the list for his Players win.
If JDAy is healthy, he, along with, DJ are my favorites to win the majors, along with Spieth and possibly Hideki.
But, I also think Sergio Garcia may just sneak in and get his major this year. He has been playing very well over the past year and his putting seems to be a strength, which failed him in the past.
Phil has definitely flown under the radar this year. He had hernia surgery in the off season, and has started slow, with just one top 10 in six starts. He has put together some strong scores, however. He fired a 65 in the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but followed with a sketchy 71, when everyone else was going low on Sunday.
He posted another strong 65 at Pebble Beach and was in contention, but a 77 on Sunday saw him fall like a rock down the leaderboard.
Sometimes, these lesser events fail to get Phil’s full attention, which could account for his inconsistent play.
The good news is he appears to be relatively healthy for a 46-year-old, who has been on tour for 25 years and suffers from a form of arthritis. Can he focus and be more consistent in the big events, is the question?
So many questions. With the Masters less than one month away, it will signal the start of the major portion of the season. The first third of the season is to prepare for April-September, when the four majors and the FedEx Cup Playoffs will be contested.
These decide the true Player of the Year and the King of the Hill.
This is a summary of a discussion from the February 28, 2017 Back 9 Report and can be heard in its entirety at: http://tunein.com/radio/The-Back-9-Report-p620823/