Predictions for the 2019 major championships
By Dan McDonald
A new golf year means a new chance to take our picks for who will add a major championship to their golf resume.
Three players will once again have a chance to etch their name into golf history and join the five other players (Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods) who have conquered golf’s Grand Slam:
Rory McIlroy, who has been on the first page of the leaderboard heading into Sunday at the Masters for the past two years, will once again head to Augusta looking to put together a strong final round and capture his first green jacket.
The 29th chapter in Phil Mickelson’s journey to try and capture the elusive U.S. Open will head to his home state of California and Pebble Beach. Phil has had success throughout his career on the Monterey Peninsula, winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am four times — the last one coming in 2012 — and many see this as one of his last best chances to capture the U.S. Open.
Jordan Spieth is coming off a frustrating 2018 campaign where he failed to pick up a win during the calendar year for the first time in his career. With the PGA Championship moving to May, it could be just the change Spieth needs in order to capture the Wanamaker Trophy.
But all that said about our three current career Grand Slam contenders, you'll have to wait another year for that chapter of history to be written.
Here are your major champions for 2019. Feel free to bet the field and send complaints and critiques to my spam folder.
Winner: Rickie Fowler
It’s Rickie’s time. He’s finished T5, T12, Cut, T11 and solo second since 2014 at the Masters. He’s proven overall that he’s comfortable on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. A fresh decade of life will provide him a fresh perspective to finish strong on Sunday and slip on the green jacket in Butler Cabin. Let the debate begin anew about who is the new "best player without a major."
How we did: Missed it. Rickie's T9 was his latest strong finish at the Masters. He was three shots behind Tiger Woods, who won his 15th major and first since the 2008 U.S. Open. We thought Tiger was primed to get a major this year but figured it wouldn't happen until the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. We won't underestimate him again.
Winner: Tommy Fleetwood
Last year, it was his Ryder Cup partner Francesco Molinari that found success in the Open Championship, as well as a T-6 finish in the PGA Championship and top 25 finishes in the US Open and Masters.
This year, New York will get the “Tommy... Tommy, Tommy...” chants ready for his victory walk down the 18th at Bethpage Black as Fleetwood breaks through for his first major championship.
How we did: Missed it. Brooks Koepka won his second PGA Championship in a row, though he flirted with disaster with a tough Sunday round. Fleetwood was looking good after shooting a 67 on Thursday, but it got progressively worse from there. After decent Friday and Saturday rounds, he shot a 78 on Sunday and finished tied for 48th place. He went into the round in 16th place.
Winner: Tiger Woods
High school seniors weren’t likely born the last time Tiger Woods won at Pebble Beach (the 2000 U.S. Open). His only other win at the famed links was earlier that year at the Pro-Am. He hasn’t played a tournament round there since the 2013 Pro-Am. Tiger historically doesn’t like putting on Poa.
Toss all those storylines out the window.
After being in serious contention at the 2018 Open and PGA Championship and finishing with a win at East Lake, Tiger is ready to get back in the winner’s circle where it matters most, at a major championship. The conditions will be tough, the field will be tougher and the Big Cat will again defy the odds to capture his first major in 11 years and *bonus prediction alert* tie Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins.
The Open Championship
Winner: Rory McIlroy
The Open Championship returns to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years and only the second time in the event’s 148 year history.
Some storylines just write themselves, and this will be one of them.
It will be the home crowds at Royal Portrush cheering on their own that will lift Rory back into the spotlight for his fifth major and first since winning the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla. Don’t worry about the green jacket and career Grand Slam. That’ll come in 2020.