Thursday, December 22, 2011

2012 PGA Tour Predictions Final Wrap Up

Well, we have made it to the latter portion of the PGA Tour Season.  Many players are competing for a FedEx Cup Playoff birth, while others are struggling to keep themselves in the top 125 of the money list.

WGC Bridgestone Invitational
Firestone Country Club once again plays host to the PGA and World's best players the week before the PGA Championship.  The field of 72 players is as elite as it gets.  Last year, Adam Scott won with Steve Williams on the bag, and started the major feud between Tiger Woods and Williams.  Ryo Ishikawa and Rickie Fowler competed until the end.  To play well at this tournament, you have to hit the ball long.  It is one of the longest, straightest golf courses on tour.  The winner needs to hit the ball as long as possible, but stay in the fairway.  Driving distance is key to winning the Bridgestone.

Winner: Tiger Woods: Who else, but the man who has won here 7 times.  This golf course is like home to Tiger Woods.  Coming off a couple difficult finishes in this tournament, he gets his mojo back and takes home the championship.  With improved driver play and a hot putter, Tiger rolls the field.

Contenders: Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson: Adam Scott and Tiger Woods duel down the stretch, which is the first time both players are grouped in the final pairing since the caddy change.  Phil Mickelson comes in after a break from golf after the Open Championship and has a great week before the PGA Championship.

The Barclays Championship--First Leg of FedEx Cup
The field of 125 is finally set for the FedEx Cup playoffs.  The Barclays comes to Bethpage Black State Park Golf Course for the first time.  This venerable golf course that has hosted numerous US Opens is a beast of a layout.  Chances are the course will play easier than USGA set-up, but will still be a stern test for the field.  Expect some of the best players in the world to have a great week here.  Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald come to mind.

Winner: Sergio Garcia: The once proclaimed "next greatest thing" returns to form on the PGA Tour to claim his first win for a while.  Sergio finally gets his putting going, and the course plays right into his hands with long, dogleg holes.

Contenders: Luke Donald, Lucas Glover: What tournament that Luke Donald plays is he not a contender?  Look for his ballstriking and putting to overwhelm most of the field and give himself a shot to win.  And do not count out Lucas Glover, on his first return to the course since winning the US Open in 2009.  He has a resurgent week and finished high on the leaderboard.

Deutsche Bank Championship--Second Leg of FedEx Cup
TPC Boston is once again the host of the Deutsche Bank Championship, the traditional tournament of Labor Day weekend with the unique Monday finish.  The field is trimmed to 100 players.  This is one of the more exciting layouts on the PGA Tour, where scoring is possible, and fireworks can happen.  Look for defending champ Webb Simpson to once again compete for the title, as well as Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood.

Winner: Lee Westwood: Westwood gets another win in America and solidifies his spot near the top of the FedEx Cup playoff list.  His superb ballstriking and driving allows him to go for flags all day long and shoot a very low score.

Contenders: Webb Simpson, Tiger Woods: Webb Simpson continues his strong play at TPC Boston, and has a finish near the top of the leaderboard.  Tiger Woods returns to TPC for the first time in a couple of years, and has a strong finish to make himself a contender for his third FedEx Cup title.

BMW Championship
The BMW Championship comes to Crooked Stick Golf Club in Indiana in 2012.  A new site for the tournament means new challenges for the 70 who have made it this far.  Look for Steve Stricker to have a pretty big gallery near his home state of Wisconsin.  Also, expect the trio of Euros Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, and Luke Donald to have strong weeks.  But my winner is

Winner: Ian Poulter: Ian Poulter finally gets a stroke play win in the US.  His strong driver play helps him earn a bid into the Tour Championship.  Coming off a strong end to 2011, he wants to end 2012 even stronger.

Contenders: Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods: Expect all three of these players to have an excellent chance of winning the FedEx Cup come the Tour Championship.

The Tour Championship
The Tour Championship returns once again to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.  This tough layout challenges the strongest field and best golfers in the world.  I expect the tournament to come down to the tough par 3 18th finishing hole.  The three golfers who I expect to have a legitimate shot at winning the cup are:

Luke Donald, Tiger Woods, and Lee Westwood

The Winner of the Tour Championship and Therefore the FedEx Cup Playoffs: Lee Westwood: Westwood finished his strongest year of his career just shy of his 40th birthday.  With a couple playoff wins, he holds off Tiger Woods in second place and Luke Donald in third place.

Final FedEx Cup Standings:
1. Lee Westwood
2. Tiger Woods
3. Luke Donald
4. Webb Simpson
5. Rory McIlroy
6. Ian Poulter
7. Phil Mickelson
8. Nick Watney
9. Sergio Garcia
10. Bud Cauley

Next time we visit the 2012 Ryder Cup teams, with predictions of team members, and the final outcome.

Until Then,

Hit Em' Straight

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