Is 2019 the year Tiger emerges from the major shadows?
Who will win the majors? Any big surprises or disappointments? And who will be the biggest movers in the world rankings? After our pretty shambolic effort last time out, the NCG team of Alex Perry, James Savage, Steve Carroll, Dan Murphy and Mark Townsend lay down their markers for 2019…
Who will win The Masters?
Alex: Everyone keeps telling me The Masters and The Open are the best chance for Tiger Woods to win No. 15. So as this is first, I’ll stick him here.
James: Tiger will be impeccably prepared and this could be the first time in 10 years at a major that he’ll strike fear into the rest of the field.
Steve: I will NEVER back against Jordan Spieth at Augusta. His game was in a mess last year and he still pushed Patrick Reed. Four podium finishes in five goes and he’s a double figure price. It’s good enough for me.
Dan: I am predicting a huge year for Justin Thomas so I’ll go with Justin Rose.
Mark: I am predicting a huge year for Justin Rose so I’ll go with Justin Thomas.
Who will win the PGA Championship?
Dan: Hang on, this comes last, you foo… Oh. How strange. The PGA as the second major of the year. Rory McIlroy please.
Mark: I’ll go with the player and everyone secretly thinks is the best when he’s firing all his big guns. No, not Rory, that was years ago. I’ll go with Dustin Johnson on a course that he should love.
James: I’ve predicted Rory to win the PGA every year since he, err, last won the PGA. But his annual near-miss at Augusta will still be affecting him so DJ for me too.
Steve: The Black Course at Bethpage has thrown up a couple of odd winners down the years – Nick Watney and Lucas Glover, anyone? – but Patrick Reed won The Barclays there in 2016 and I think he’s a good shout to add to his major total here.
Alex: Another major winner at Bethpage down the years? Mr T. Woods. No. 16 is happening here.
Who will win the US Open?
Alex: Tiger Woods for No. 17. Next.
Mark: And so it happens. Eleven years later Tiger gets back on the major bus. And at Pebble with the waves crashing in. Cuba Gooding Jr to play the leading role in the blockbuster movie.
Steve: You’re likely to be, or become, a legend of the game if you win a major at Pebble Beach – think Nicklaus, Watson, Kite and Woods. So I’m picking a player at the zenith of his ability: DJ. He should have won when Graeme McDowell picked up the prize in 2010.
James: Pebble seems like the sort of course Jordan Spieth might do well at. Just looking up his record there… Yep, Spieth please.
Dan: Justin Thomas has by now played himself into top form. I think this one has his name on it. Sorry Brooks, I know you’ll be offended.
And who will win The Open?
Alex: Tiger Woods, having just missed out at The Masters, PGA Championship and US Open earlier in the year, will storm to a 12-shot victory for No. 15.
Steve: If Tiger doesn’t shine at Augusta, this will be his biggest chance of getting to 15. I understand the clamour for McIlroy but I just don’t trust him in the wind. I think Spieth’s excellent iron play and course management could bag him a second major of the year. He’s done it before, don’t forget.
Mark: This is shaping up to be the year of years – in my head – so I’ll round out the major calendar with Sir Tommy of Fleetwoodshire. Bring on the wind, everyone will get behind him, and they’ll carry him off the 18th shoulder high. I’m getting emotional at the thought of it.
James: Portrush seems quite quirky to me. So I think we could have an unexpected winner like Tyrrell Hatton.
Dan: The romantic choice would be McIlroy but I’ve got a sneaking feeling this will be Sergio Garcia’s year. Just like I have for each of the last 15 years.
What will be the top 5 in the world rankings at the end of the year?
Dan: Thomas, Rose, McIlroy, Johnson, Koepka.
Steve: Thomas, Rose, Koepka, Johnson, McIlroy.
Mark: Thomas, Johnson, Woods, Koepka, Fleetwood.
James: Johnson, Thomas, Koepka, Spieth, DeChambeau.
Alex: Thomas, Johnson, Koepka, Woods, McIlroy.
What about the big surprises, disappointments, and players that will plummet down the world rankings in 2019? NCG’s predictions continue on the next page…