The top 5 questions in golf heading into 2018

Tiger Woods
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Will Tiger Woods be healthy throughout 2018? Could he win again? Can the U.S. win the Ryder Cup in Europe for the first time since 1993? So many intriguing questions for 2018.
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: PGA Tour

Published: Friday, December 29, 2017 | 11:26 a.m.

As we head into the new year, there are plenty of relevant questions in golf for us all to ponder.

The majors are always compelling. It's going to be a Ryder Cup year. All signs point to a healthy return for Tiger Woods.

So what's in store for 2018?

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Here's a look at what we believe to be the five most intriguing questions...

5. Who will be the world No. 1 at season's end?

As 2017 closed, Dustin Johnson was the world No. 1 with a narrow lead over No. 2 Jordan Spieth and No. 3 Justin Thomas. Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama rounded out the top 5 with Rory McIlroy in the No. 10 spot. Will we see a season where that No. 1 spot changes hands a number of times? That's probably a good bet.

And look out too for current world No. 6, Justin Rose. He was red-hot toward the end of 2017 and might make a strong argument for that No. 1 position. With the crop of incredible young players we have these days, you can bet they're all shooting for No. 1 bragging rights.

4. Will we see McIlroy, Phil Mickelson or Jordan Spieth complete a career grand slam?

This is one of my favorite questions for 2018. Did you realize that at three majors this season -- the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship -- a player (McIlroy, Mickelson, or Spieth, respectively) could complete the career grand slam and join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen as the only players to do so in the Masters era?

McIlory is a Masters win away from the slam; for Mickelson it's the U.S. Open, which happens to be at Shinnecock Hills this year where he was a runner-up in 2004; and for Spieth it's the PGA Championship.

That's a special little storyline for those three majors.

3. Can Tiger Woods stay healthy for the entire season?

Man, we sure hope so. All signs seemed positive at the Hero World Challenge, but wasn't that the case a year ago too?

The last time Tiger played a PGA Tour season with at least 15 starts was 2013. He also won five times that season.

At 42 years old come December 30, staying healthy isn't going to get any easier for Woods. What would be great is to see him play a consistent schedule where he's playing all four rounds and painfree.

2. Could Tiger win in 2018?

Well, that's all going to depend on the answer to question No. 3, right? But, provided he is healthy, are you going to doubt him? We're not going to do that.

Woods is motivated perhaps more than he has been in years. He's got the younger players who have been getting all the attention in his absence and two young kids who never truly got to see/understand how good pops was in his heyday.

It's unreasonable to think Woods will ever again be able to dominate like he once did in the early 2000s, but if he remains healthy, there's no way that a win -- or dare we say, "wins" -- is out of the realm of possibility.

1. Can the U.S. Ryder Cup team win in Paris?

Simply put, of course they could, but there's more to it than that. Did you know that the U.S. hasn't won on foreign soil since the 1993 matches at the Belfry? Another way to put it -- the U.S. hasn't won a road game since the year Spieth and Thomas were born.

Crazy, right?

The difference this time around, however, could be how in the last several years, the Ryder Cup has truly turned into a two-year commitment for the captains and the potential players. It's no longer show up and see what happens.

The Ryder Cup is on the minds of everyone striving to play week in and week out now. They just got sick of losing.

As we've seen throughout the history of the Ryder Cup, dominance is a cyclical thing. Could it be that we're nearing the end of the European dominance and about to begin a new run of success by the U.S.?

We'll just have to wait and see in Paris. But winning two consecutive Ryder Cups for the first time since 1993 sure would be a nice start.

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.