It was almost exactly one year ago that Justin Thomas shot an opening round 59 at The Sony Open in Hawaii. He went on to win The Sony for what was already his third victory of the young 2017 season. Thomas won a total of five times last year and finished in the Top 10 an additional seven times. He took 2nd at The Tour Championship to win The FedEx Cup in September and he won his first Major Championship, capturing The PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina a month prior to that. It all made for a pretty easy crowning of The PGA Tour Player of The Year.
The five-foot ten, 145-pound, twenty-four-year-old added another win this past October and has now vaulted to number 4 in the world rankings, two spots behind his close friend, Jordan Spieth.
How good is golf right now? Recent world number ones, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, have dropped in the rankings to 11th and 13th respectively. Ahead of them are names like Sergio, Rose, Fowler, Matsuyama, and Stenson. How deep is the field right now? Remember Adam Scott? He’s now ranked 33rd in the world. Phil Mickelson is 40th. Two-time Major winner, Zach Johnson ranks 48th. Eight-time Tour winner, Brandt Snedeker ranks 61st. Two-time Masters winner, Bubba Watson, barely cracks the Top 100 at 93rd.
The point is that the Top 100 players in the world right now is a list jammed packed with incredible talent from top to bottom. And if that isn’t enough, there’s a guy who’s currently ranked 649th who’s won fourteen Majors, has a healthy back, and will tee it up at Torrey Pines later this month, a place he’s won at seven times. Yes, 2018 is setting up to be a pretty exciting year in golf.
Seven Predictions for the 2018 season..
- Marc Leishman will win a Major Championship. Leishman graduated from good player to good player who can handle a pressure cooker when he went wire to wire at The BMW Championship last year, holding off a leaderboard littered with the top players in the world. He’s played in three President’s Cups, has three Top 10 finishes at The Open Championship and one Top 10 at The Masters. I think this is the year Leishman graduates to yet another level.
- At the end of The FedEx Cup Playoffs, after The Tour Championship, Jordan Spieth will be the number one ranked player in the world. Kapalua winner, Dustin Johnson isn’t going away any time soon but it’s almost like a 2-on-1 here with Justin Thomas and Spieth both playing off of each other, trying to overtake DJ. Spieth will ball strike, putt, and win his way into the top spot before October.
- My prediction is that Tiger Woods will play in over ten events in 2018 and I believe that he will record two Top 10 finishes. This may seem conservative but I believe Tiger Woods too will take a cautious approach to his golf season. I do think he will win again. I do not think he will win another Major.
- Speaking of win again, I do not think Phil Mickelson will get a tournament win in 2018. His last victory was the 2013 Open Championship. Tiger has actually won more recently, winning about two weeks later in 2013 at The Bridgestone Invitational. Lefty has come out, saying he is extra focused this year. I believe the breakup with Bones is still too fresh for him to turn the corner and get a win. Phil will win again and I think he will win another Major.
- Sergio Garcia will overcome his heartbreaking runner up finish to Padraig Harrington at The Open Championship in 2007 and take home The Claret Jug this year when The Open returns to Carnoustie. With a Major now to his credit, I believe Sergio will have the peace of mind to finish the job this time around. It was a bogey on the 18th hole at Carnoustie in 2007 that forced a playoff with Harrington. Eleven years later, Sergio is a much different player mentally.
- Tommy Fleetwood will crack the Top 10 in the world rankings by season’s end and Tony Finau will jump into the Top 25.
- We make the point about how stacked with talent the world of golf is right now and every season lately it seems, there is a new wave of young guns breaking onto the scene. Patrick Cantlay and Austin Cook are a couple who already have a Tour win. Keep an eye on three more as I predict one of them will get a win this season as well; Peter Uihlein, Aaron Wise, and Stanford’s Maverick McNealy.
Golf season officially begins for Brady Kannon at Torrey Pines for The Farmers Insurance Open on January 25th. Sign up for the Season Access Pass now!