Sunday, December 18, 2011

2012 PGA Tour Predictions Part 2

After coming off the Masters in early April (see my earlier post for the Major Championship predictions and coverage for 2012), the season finally kicks in to full gear.

RBC Heritage
Probably one of my favorite courses is Harbor Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island.  This course is not too long and plays pretty tight.  I think that this course is one of the last traditional courses left on the schedule.  Nothing too frilly or fancy, just a good, tight, old-fashioned course.  I think that we will see a few of the bigger names here the week after the Masters.  I think Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, and Justin Rose will all be competitive at this course.  And maybe you'll see Luke Donald and Anthony Kim fulfilling sponsors obligations and playing at the course of one of their main sponsors.

Winner: After a tough 2011, I think Furyk will bounce back with a strong win here at Harbor Town.  He's won this tournament in the past, so he knows how to get it done.  And I think the belly putter will really help him improve his putting in 2012.

Contenders: Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose: These are two players who always seem to play well right around this time.  Look for Fowler to come out strong and with his streaky putting, have a great chance to win.  Also look for Rose, who is always in play off the tee, to excel in this tight golf course.

The Wells Fargo Championship
Quail Hollow is another favorite stop for many players on tour.  Coming the week before The Players, many top pros will be in the field.  The course is always in beautiful shape and plays in perfect conditions.  I believe Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer will be in play for the win, as well as defending champion Lucas Glover, and Tiger Woods always seems to play well here.

Winner: Adam Scott builds off a strong 2011 with his first win of 2012 the week before The Players.  This win will propel him to a strong start and maybe come home with a major before the year is up.

Contenders: Tiger Woods and Martin Kaymer: Tiger always brings his A game to Quail Hollow, and with a healthy return to golf, look for him to return strong to this tournament.  After failing to crack the top 70 last year at Quail Hollow, Kaymer will look to gain revenge on the course and possibly take home his first win since 2010 PGA Championship in the USA.

The Players Championship
Ah, TPC Sawgrass.  You cannot make up a top 18 holes in the world without including #17.  It's only a pitching wedge, but can have some of the highest scores of any hole on the golf course.  With the probably return of Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood to The Players after a year hiatus, this will once again be the strongest field in the world.  With previous winners Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, and others regaining their form, the tournament will be hotly contested.  But there always seems to be a surprise contender, like Paul Goydos, Tim Clark, and KJ Choi.  Which is why I am picking,

Winner: Ryo Ishikawa.  I feel like the youngster from Japan will have his first win on US soil at this event.  Coming in to a year with fewer distractions (earthquake and tsunami) will pay dividends for the young man.  And he will pass Adam Scott as the youngest champion at this event.  His length off the tee and accurate iron play will help him win his first PGA Tour event.

Contenders: Lee Westwood, KJ Choi.  The Players Championship has become an international showcase in the last couple years.  Look for Westwood to have a strong tournament on a course that suits his game.  If he can make a few putts he will be right on top of the leaderboard when the week ends.  And KJ Choi will once again be in contention during his title defense.  The steadiest player on the PGA Tour, Choi will have no problem sticking with the big guns once again.

The Memorial Tournament
Another one of the big events on tour, The Memorial Tournament pays tribute to host Jack Nicklaus' illustrious career in his home state of Ohio at Muirfield Village.  Players flock to the tournament with one of the strongest fields outside the majors and WGC events.  Look for defending champ Steve Stricker to have another good week.  And Rickie Fowler has played well here the past few years.  And you can never discount Tiger when playing in Jack's event.  But the person I think will win this event is

Winner: Dustin Johnson.  After a struggle in 2011, Johnson will come out and take this event.  Two weeks before the US Open, his game will be in top form.  And a reunion with caddie Bobby (not the singer) Brown will show Johnson it is his Prerogative to win again (ha ha ha).  And he'll take the strong play into the US Open.

Contenders: Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose: A previous winner and a previous runner up in this tournament, these two players have had their A game all of 2012 so far.  And they both will show they can win at this golf course.  Both players will be right at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the week.

Well, that brings us to the halfway point in the season, the US Open.  After the US Open, I believe the FedEx cup standings will look like:

1. Dustin Johnson
2. Phil Mickelson
3. Tiger Woods
4. Webb Simpson
5. Luke Donald
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Rory McIlroy
8. Lee Westwood
9. Justin Rose
10. Nick Watney

Look for the Euros to move up later in the summer as they play more events in the US.  And Tiger will start to play more as well, so look for a fight to the finish.

Stay tuned for more and more 2012 PGA Tour predictions!

Til Then, Hit em Straight!

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