The year ahead: NCG predicts 2018January 8, 2018 The Scoop
Will this year see Rory McIlroy return to the major winners' circle? See what our team has to say
Who are we expecting to triumph at The Masters, US Open, Open and PGA Championship? And what will be the big surprises and disappointments?
Check out our 2018 predictions here…
Who will win the Masters?
Alex Perry: I’m almost certainly going to back Jordan Spieth at every major this year – particularly the Masters.
Dan Murphy: Spieth has an uncannily strong record at Augusta and could have won every Masters he has played in.
Mark Townsend: Spieth always nearly or does win the Masters so what’s not to like?
James Savage: Hard to argue against Spieth’s record despite what happened in 2016.
Matt Beedle: Spieth for me, too. The 2016 blip was a one-off and he’ll grab his second Green Jacket.
Joe Urquhart: Spieth’s Open exploits in 2017 proved his mental ability to get over the line when the going gets tough once again.
Steve Carroll: I’ll break the trend. If Hideki Matsuyama can get on a hot streak with the putter then course form of 5th, 7th and 11th in his last three visits to Augusta looks very significant.
Craig Middleton: I think the disappointment of missing out last year is all Dustin Johnson needs to slip into that Green Jacket.
Who will win the US Open?
Mark Townsend: I keep saying Rickie Fowler will win the Open so let’s mix it up and go for his home Open instead.
Dan Murphy: Shinnecock rewards skilful, old-fashioned players and Fowler is overdue.
Alex Perry: Torn between the Justins – Rose and Thomas. I’ll plump for the Englishman because he’s more reliable than JT.
Craig Middleton: Rose is due another major the way he has been playing recently, and he is too good to only win one major in his career.
Joe Urquhart: I’ll go the other way with Thomas. As long as he can keep it straight off the tee he will be up there.
Matt Beedle: Thomas had a massive season last year and he’s going to add to his PGA Championship.
Steve Carroll: Brandt Snedeker has had five top 10s at the US Open. If he is going to win a major, this will be the one.
James Savage: I still think Henrik Stenson has a US Open in him can see him coming out on top in a real dogfight. I’ve been saying it for the past four years so might as well stick to my guns.
Who will win the Open?
Joe Urquhart: Rory McIlroy – please!
Craig Middleton: McIlroy has good form at the Open and I can’t see him going another year without a major.
Alex Perry: McIlroy for me, too. He’s got at least five Open wins in him.
Mark Townsend: Yep, McIlroy. Not for any inane thinking that he did well there when he was about 12, more that he’ll win a few Opens and this will suit him.
James Savage: Jon Rahm will break his major duck at Carnoustie, on the basis that he’s really good and has won on a tough links before.
Dan Murphy: Carnoustie is the perfect venue for Sergio Garcia – it’s a driver’s course with big, flat greens.
Steve Carroll: Sergio was so close at Carnoustie 11 years ago. He loves his Green Jacket but wants a Claret Jug even more. This could be the year.
Matt Beedle: Garcia will shake off his Carnoustie demons from 2007, a sight many golf fans would love to see.
Who will win the PGA Championship?
Steve Carroll: Rickie Fowler is too good to not join his Spring Break mates in the major club, Bellerive looks like his kind of venue.
Alex Perry: I back Fowler every year and I’m not changing that for 2018. Though it means I’m predicting a major-free season for DJ and JT, which is ridiculous thing to do.
James Savage: I’ll have DJ. He’s too good not to add to his major tally and the PGA seems the most likely for him to win in 2018.
Matt Beedle: And I’ll have JT. He’s winning two majors and going back to back at the PGA. Called it.
Dan Murphy: If you’ve won a major and completed a grand slam of second places then it’s a fair bet that another one will arrive before too long. Step forward, Louis Oosthuizen.
Mark Townsend: Jason Day has been written off a bit too quickly from the very top table and I’d like to see him add another one here.
Joe Urquhart: Brian Harmon or someone similar. It’s a glorified PGA Tour event and deserves a winner of that ilk.
Craig Middleton: Kevin Chappell won’t be a common choice but every time I see him play I’m impressed. I think this could be his year.
Who will win the Race to Dubai?
James Savage: I expect Justin Rose to have a good year but just come up short in the majors.
Mark Townsend: It all depends on how often Rose will play on the European Tour but, given he’ll probably finish inside the top 10 every week he does, then seems a safe bet.
Steve Carroll: Rose had this in his hands before a late slip allowed Tommy Fleetwood to steal it from him. He’ll be motivated to go one better and is consistent enough in the big events to rack up lots of points.
Joe Urquhart: I fully expect-slash-want Rory McIlroy to bounce back from a tough year with three or four wins on both tours alongside at least one major.
Alex Perry: It’ll be between Rose and Rory McIlroy and – hopefully – it’ll go right to the wire. McIlroy to nick it in Dubai.
Dan Murphy: Matt Fitzpatrick keeps getting written off but he starts the year inside the world top 30 and will go well at Augusta before making his second Ryder Cup appearance.
Craig Middleton: Jon Rahm. Very impressive last year, I think this year he’ll take it up a notch with the Ryder Cup on the horizon.
Matt Beedle: Tyrell Hatton- With a Ryder Cup coming up and Hatton desperate to impress on the big stage I can see him improving on his last two European Tour season.
Who will win the Ryder Cup?
Dan Murphy: The Americans will end 25 years of pain since their last win in Europe but it will be much closer than at Hazeltine.
Craig Middleton: I hope we’re wrong but the US are just way too strong.
James Savage: Europe will win. Team USA can’t win without their pudgy, basement-dwelling, irritants, stuffed on cookie dough and pissy beer, pausing between mouthfuls of hotdog so they can scream ‘Baba booey’ until their jelly faces turn red.
Mark Townsend: Yes, yes the US have got the DJs and JTs, but Europe have got half a dozen superstars and they know the course.
Joe Urquhart: Le Golf National has too much water for the big-hitting Americans.
Steve Carroll: I like the USA’s price at the moment with the bookies but they haven’t won on this continent for a quarter of a century. Much is said of their team, but Europe’s young players are starting to look very good indeed.
Alex Perry: Home win. Next.
Matt Beedle: Jon Rahm is leading us to glory.
Who or what will surprise you this year?
Alex Perry: How have we got this far without mentioning Tiger Woods? He’ll finish in the top 10 at The Masters after briefly leading during the 1st round.
Craig Middleton: Tiger will win a tournament this year. Have I said this every year for the last four years? Yes. Am I usually left disappointed? Yes. It feels different this time, though.
Matt Beedle: Despite his career record, after his time out of the game Tiger just going close will be a surprise – but I think he’ll do it.
Dan Murphy: I’d be surprised if Rory McIlroy won the Masters. Perhaps he will.
Mark Townsend: Pat Perez and Tommy Fleetwood will have a short back and sides on the eve of the Ryder Cup in the name of charity.
Steve Carroll: We might get through a whole season without a significant rules calamity.
James Savage: It would be great to see Tyrrell Hatton challenging in the majors this year.
Joe Urquhart: Jordan Smith will continue his astronomical rise up the ranks and become a Ryder Cup sensation.
Who or what will disappoint you this year?
Alex Perry: I’m putting Tiger Woods in here, too. Covers all bases…
Dan Murphy: My hopes are so high for Tiger that there’s a very good chance he will not live up to them. That’s not his fault of course.
Steve Carroll: Maybe my expectations of Rory McIlroy are too high, but I’m not expecting him to win a major in 2018 and that will be a disappointment.
Mark Townsend: Other than myself daily there will be half a dozen heroes who will lose their card or do nothing on a weekly basis despite the number of times I refresh their scorecards. And 80 per cent of the tour pro community for persisting with the wearing of a white belt.
James Savage: No French players will make the Ryder Cup team.
Joe Urquhart: I think it will be another majorless year for Hideki Matsuyama
Craig Middleton: Masters Sunday. In comparison to the tense playoff last year I think this year it will be a lot more predictable. DJ will have a 6 shot lead and he’ll have wrapped it up by the 10th hole…
Matt Beedle: If the BBC get hold of the rights again then there’s no doubt that the PGA Championship coverage will be another car crash in the waiting…
Who will be in the top 5 at the end of the year?
Dan Murphy: McIlroy, Spieth, Johnson, Fowler, Rahm
Alex Perry: Spieth, McIlroy, Fowler, Johnson, Thomas
Mark Townsend: Spieth, McIlroy, Fowler, Johnson, Thomas
Steve Carroll: Spieth, Johnson, Thomas, Rose, McIlroy
James Savage: Spieth, Johnson, Rahm, Thomas, Rose
Joe Urquhart: McIlroy, Spieth, Thomas, Johnson, Rahm
Craig Middleton: Johnson, Rahm, Spieth, Rose, McIlroy
Matt Beedle: Thomas, Johnson, Spieth, McIlroy, Rahm