Is 2019 the year Tiger emerges from the major shadows?January 2, 2019 The Scoop
Will Tiger Woods finally get No. 15 in the bag next year? The NCG team predicts what's to come in 2019
Who or what will surprise you in 2019?
Steve: This might be the year Phil Mickelson freefalls out of the top 50. I can’t believe I’m even writing that.
Mark: We’re going to get at least one amateur winner on either tour. They seem better prepared than half the pros so it’s about time they ‘did a Mickelson’.
Dan: JT, when his game deserts him and he falls out of the world’s top 50 by next Christmas having failed to make a cut all year.
Alex: Every year McIlroy doesn’t win The Masters and every year I’m surprised McIlroy didn’t win The Masters.
James: When a non-free agent actually wins a major. Could this be the year the equipment staffers fight back?
Who or what will disappoint you in 2019?
Mark: Oh, so many things. I’ve sort of come to terms with Rory not winning 20 majors so I’ll stick my neck out and suggest there is another edition of The Match. I’m still holding out on Mickelson giving the money to charity.
Alex: Tiger when he doesn’t win all four to tie Jack.
Dan: I can’t take another year of being unable to refer to Sergio Garcia as an Open champion.
James: McIlroy. It’s just better if I don’t get my hopes up.
Steve: Even though it’s at Hillside, it’s hard to think a stellar field will turn out for the British Masters the week before the PGA Championship. If the elite don’t come, I fear we might be saying goodbye to an event that should a regular of the calendar.
Who will plummet down the world rankings in 2019?
James: I’ve got bad vibes about Justin Rose’s pending equipment shake-up.
Steve: Fleetwood played way too much for my liking in the second half of the year and, if he tries to carry on at that pace, it’s going to catch up with him at some point. If he doesn’t start well, I think he might struggle as the commitments rack up in the summer.
Mark: All being well, Bubba Watson. He’s had his fun and weird things like preferring to be a Ryder Cup vice-captain rather than playing don’t get you too excited. Think he’ll be done within three years.
Alex: Took the words right out of my mouth, Mark.
Dan: I wonder how Francesco Molinari will possibly be able to follow up his Open win and sensational Ryder Cup performance.
And which player will go the other way?
Dan: There is an unusual amount of excitement surrounding Cameron Champ and I think we are all looking forward to seeing if he is the real deal next year.
Alex: Champ’s bursting onto the scene makes this too easy.
Steve: Champ could be the obvious one if his prodigious hitting is just as potent on a course with tighter fairways and more evil rough.
Mark: This is merely a romantic notion: Jason Dufner. How lovely it would be to watch one of the great swingers pile into them again. A little closer to home Aaron Rai and Tom Lewis might nudge their way into the top 50 by lights out.
James: I’ve got a lot of time for Andy Sullivan and would love to see him get back up near the top 50. He’s switching caddies for 2019 so maybe that might give him a renewed focus.
Any off the wall predictions?
James: Half the European Tour rock up at Wentworth in May and look at each puzzled when the entry sheet says ‘Tuesday Stableford’ at the top.
Steve: A robot version of Bryson DeChambeau wins on the PGA Tour.
Mark: Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I worry about Jon Rahm’s trousers and his inability to get into them. So I’ll say his thigh-buttock combo might mean he has to WD from a tourney in the warmer climes.
Alex: Tommy Fleetwood and Pat Perez take part in the second edition of The Match and the loser has to shave their head.
Dan: Graeme McDowell will earn a place in the field at Portrush for his hometime Open and roll back the years to lead by one going into the final round. After a blistering hot Sunday, he ends up in a play-off with Sergio Garcia. And just loses.