Martin reading the tea leaves…

Thought for the Day
A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him

Here goes Nothing…
Predictive prognostications (and what other sort are there?) of any kind just set the forecaster up to look like an idiot when none of them come true. But as golf writers have never been famed for their intelligence, here are my ideas on what will happen in the world of golf over the next 12 months. Some are even serious.

The Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf Investments link-up with the Asian Tour will wither on the vine as the game’s best players take stock and decide not to get involved. The PGA and DP World (formerly European) Tours have upped both their games and prize money, and the world superstars won’t want to risk losing their playing privileges. They always know on which side their bread is buttered.

The Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf Investments link-up with the Asian Tour will go from strength to strength and pose a serious threat to established tours. A couple of brave golfers will start playing in its events, their home tour will respond by revoking their cards, the players will sue for restraint of trade and tears will be shed before bed-time (well, I’m not Nostrodamus).

Patrick Cantlay will win a major
He won three times in 20/21and finished top of the FedEx Rankings. More than that, he seems to have found the secret to shooting sub-par scores, on just about any course, whenever the mood takes him. He’s due.

Rory McIlroy will win the Masters
No, seriously. It’s the one he wants above all others to complete a career grand slam. He has knuckled down with the realisation that natural talent isn’t enough and to keep on winning, he needs to re-dedicate himself, which he has done, and the green shoots of optimism, that he’s getting back to his best, are evident.

Tiger Woods will win the Open Championship at St Andrews in July
It’s an event he loves, on a course he loves and he’s still got nearly seven months to get back to full fitness and sharpen his game. I have wrongly foretold his professional demise too often to do it again.

Collin Morikawa will have a poor season
He cannot, surely, continue on the same astonishing trajectory that he’s shown over the last two years. He turned pro in 2019, has won five times, including two majors, has played 57 events and missed only five cuts. It is a staggering record of consistency that only a golfing cyborg could maintain.

Viktor Hovland will have a tremendous year
At 24 years he’s the same age as Collin Morikawa and just keeps getting better with every passing season. Three wins already in America and plenty more to come, perhaps even a major. This is despite the fact that his golf clubs were delayed in following him to Hawaii and then arrived in pieces. He still finished tied 30th.

Team USA will win the Presidents Cup
I’m hardly sticking my neck out here, considering that the event has been played on 13 occasions and America has won it 11 times. The two exceptions were a tie, in South Africa, and a single defeat, in Australia. America has not lost the event on US soil and this year’s tournament is to be played at Quail Hollow, North Carolina. That’s in America.

Bryson DeChambeau will hit the ball 500 yards on the fly
Well, maybe not but the musclebound freak will keep swinging as hard as he possibly can and leave the rest of us gasping for air just watching him.

Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka won’t make any new friends
Both men are single-minded and ornery to the extent that neither really cares what the world thinks of them, they will just bear down, grind it out and compete to the limits of their considerable ability.

Phil Mickelson will spend more time on Twitter and social media in general than on the golf course
He has an (often misguided) opinion about everything and just cannot wait to share it with the rest of the world. He recently claimed to have won the awful PGA Tour Player Impact Program, despite no official announcement about the results, and is the pro golfer equivalent of Donald Trump. Tweet at will, never repent, even the most misguided opinions, and confuse a ubiquitous online presence with something meaningful.

Jin Young Ko will lay waste to the LPGA Tour
Yes, Nelly Korda had a great season but Ko has got a fabulous game, a work ethic to die for and iced water in her veins. Consistent? How about 63 consecutive greens in regulation during the final event of the LPGA season in 2021? Bet against her at your peril.

Several names will re-emerge as major contenders
Jordan Spieth, Xander Shauffele, Danny Willett, Justin Thomas, Lucas Glover, Shane Lowry and Louis Osthuizen are all going to seriously contend in one or more majors. Get down to the bookies now.

It will be at least June before we remember to call the (former) European Tour the DP World Tour

The Netflix fly-on-the-wall series will be compulsory viewing
It happened in football with Jose Mourinho and Spurs, with Michael Jordan and basketball, and last season with Formula 1 motor racing which, let’s face it, is usually as exciting as marbles (okay, it was greatly helped by Hamilton and Verstappen going head-to-head). These Netflix productions have a history of giving real insight and a behind-closed-doors look at the PGA Tour should be no exception. Phil Mickelson will no doubt be eager to give an occasional interview.

Jon Rahm will win another major
He’ll also cement his place atop the world rankings. We’ve watched him steadily improve over several years, and largely learn to control his hot-headedness. Dustin Johnson should be permanently world number one but is far too level-headed to maintain the obsessive regime needed to stay there, so will saunter on, winning friends and tournaments but also continuing to have a real life outside golf.

Half of these predictions will be woefully, horribly wrong
But when it comes to laying out your cash at the bookmaker’s, the knack is to know which ones.

Quote of the Week
Love and putting are mysteries for the philosopher to solve. Both subjects are beyond golfers
Tommy Armour

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