NCG's alternative predictions for 2018

The Scoop

From the fastest round of golf to the shortest course set-up in major history, Mark Townsend expects it to be a very different year

Yes, we all think we know who will win the majors and who will end the year as World No. 1 – so here are our alternative predictions for the golf year ahead…

1. The solution to slow play

Following the success of the English quartet of Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Matthew Southgate and Ian Poulter in playing the 501-yard 15th at Carya in a little more than 32 seconds, the European Tour will trial a 72-hole team tournament sometime later in the year.

A spokesman for the tour commented: “With the talk of slow play not going away it’s time we gave the game some good news. We’ve shown in Turkey that a hole can take around half a minute, with some good golf being played. So, with some brisk walking between tees and some good general fitness, we would hope to get a team round in something like 17 minutes.”

2. Life’s a Beach

Kenny G

The final group in the much-loved AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am take nine hours to get round. The pace of play isn’t helped by Kenny G playing the full five-minute version of Songbird on the 1st before every group teed off and then Huey Lewis serenading the leaders on the 18th fairway with an acoustic version of The Power Of Love.

Tournament chief Al Spakstra commented: “It’s been another great AT&T, one of the best. We’ll have a look at the Sunday timings and see if we can get Kenny to leave his saxophone at home in 2019.”

3) Shinnecock gets funky

Mike Davis

On the third day of the US Open Mike Davis gets seriously creative with the set-up at Shinnecock. It plays to 4,800 yards and a par of 62.

Davis explained: “The USGA is never too worried about pushing the envelope and we kinda like the idea of a back nine of 29.

“We expect all sorts of records to tumble on Open Saturday and, if we can’t get the first sub-60 in the bag, then we’re doing something wrong.

“All that said you can still expect the winning score to be level par.”

4. Rickie gets suited up

Old Tom Morris

Rickie Fowler throws us all a curveball on Open Thursday with his interpretation of Old Tom Morris’ wardrobe at Carnoustie.

Complete with waistcoat, dangly timepiece, a stout pair of brogues and a beard that he has been secretly growing since 2009 Fowler is forced to retire with heat exhaustion after 14 holes.

Fowler, speaking from Arbroath Infirmary, commented: “My swing speed dropped 14mph but the beard was the real big mistake. I started over-heating and itching-up down the 9th and when the temperatures reached 14 degrees I knew my day was done.”

5. Spieth on fire at the Open

Jordan Spieth

The 6th at Carnoustie is renamed Spieth’s Alley after the champion successfully defends his title having taken advantage of a local rule for the week where the firing range next door is deemed not out of bounds. He invents a new way to play the hole, hitting a slinging hook and makes eagle every day.

Spieth commented: “It was Mikey who noticed the ruling and we only came up with the play on Wednesday. It only makes you appreciate what Mr Hogan did back in ’53 even more and to write my own version of golfing history on the very same hole is really neat.”

6. Bubba goes green

Bubba Watson

In a bid to get Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk’s attention Bubba Watson dyes his hair ‘Augusta green’ for the Masters.

Two-time champion Watson commented: “I like to go about things my own way, the Bubba way, the Gerry Lester Bubba Watson Jr way. The ball thing didn’t really work out last year and I haven’t spoken to Jim since Hazeltine so I hope it will just jog his head a little bit.”

7. Anything for you, bestie

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas

To try and help Jordan Spieth complete his career Grand Slam Justin Thomas puts the clubs away for the week at Bellerive and follows the McIlroy/Day/Fleetwood/Hatton recipe in caddying for your best mate.

JT explained: “Yeah, yeah I know I’m defending champion but JS just needs this one to get over the line and no one, unless your name’s TW, defends the Wanamaker anyway.

“I’ll be back to defend the Dell Technologies in a couple of weeks.”

8. Pats get the perfect pant

Pat Perez

In the PR stunt of the year, Dockers sign a trouser deal with two Pats, Perez and Reed. After years of pacing the fairways with a mainly black trouser billowing in the wind and not sitting anywhere near any flesh the company leapt on the prospect of signing up the two Ryder Cup hopefuls.

A spokesman for Dockers explained: “The two Pats were just perfect for our model. For years we’ve dominated the khaki market and it’s time we branched out into the fitted range.”

9. The US Vorderman decodes the FedEx Cup

FedEx Cup

The 2017 winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Richard Thaler, is called in to try and decipher the Fed ExCup points system.

Thaler explained: “I’ve worked on some pretty interesting projects in my time but I’ve yet to see anything like this before. I’ve gathered together five of the finest mathematical brains in the world and, between us, we hope to be able to at least get a handle on how the points system works going into East Lake.”

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