For the first time in our 10(?)-ish year history, LG and I will be collaborating on our predictions for this major in-person. Also, we have a couple of guest predictions to see how a newbie does against the experienced guessers (my money is on much, much better).

JK
Winner: Jordan Spieth
Winning Score: -19
Runner Up: Rory McIlroy
Low PGA Professional: Johan Kok
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Luke List
Last Year’s Winner (Justin Thomas, OWGR #2) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Top 10
The Master’s Winner (Reed, #12) Will: Top 10
The US Open Winner (Koepka, #4) Will: Make Cut
The Open Champion (Molinari, #6) Will: Make Cut
Dustin Johnson (OWGR #1) will: Top 10
Justin Rose (#3) will: Make Cut
Rory McIlroy (#5) will: Top 10
Jon Rahm (#7) will: Miss Cut
Jordan Spieth (#8) will: Win
Rickie Fowler (#9) will: Top 10
Jason Day (#10) will: Make Cut
Tiger (#who cares) will: Make Cut
How many prior major winners will be in the Top 10: 6
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? -15? someone wins it
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Spieth completes the career slam

LG
Winner: Justin Thomas
Winning Score: -14
Runner Up: Rory
Low PGA Professional: Brian Smock
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Shubhankar Sharma
Last Year’s Winner (Justin Thomas, OWGR #2) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Win B2B
The Master’s Winner (Reed, #12) Will: Yell at a cameraman for jingling change. MC
The US Open Winner (Koepka, #4) Will: MC
The Open Champion (Molinari, #6) Will: Make Cut
Dustin Johnson (OWGR #1) will: Make Cut
Justin Rose (#3) will: Make Cut
Rory McIlroy (#5) will: Top 10
Jon Rahm (#7) will: Top 10
Jordan Spieth (#8) will: Top 10
Rickie Fowler (#9) will: Make Cut
Jason Day (#10) will: MC
Tiger (#who cares) will: Make Cut
How many prior major winners will be in the Top 10: 4
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Thomas goes out and wins it
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Bellerive sucks, just like the TaylorMade High Toe wedge.

KB (guest post)
Winner: Jason Day
Winning Score: -20
Runner Up: Sheffaffle.
Low PGA Professional: Someone I’ve never heard of.
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Thorbjorn ❤
Last Year’s Winner (Justin Thomas, OWGR #2) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Self combust from too many consecutive interviews. Make Cut.
The Master’s Winner (Reed, #12) Will: Do better than anyone wants him to. Top10.
The US Open Winner (Koepka, #4) Will: Try to keep up with his playing partners. Top10.
The Open Champion (Molinari, #6) Will: Fizzle out. Make Cut.
Dustin Johnson (OWGR #1) will: Be average all week then come out of nowhere Sunday to finish just short of the W. Top10.
Justin Rose (#3) will: Come back from injury too early. MC.
Rory McIlroy (#5) will: Top10.
Jon Rahm (#7) will: MC.
Jordan Spieth (#8) will: Make Cut.
Rickie Fowler (#9) will: Shoot low round at least two days and high round at least one. And be distracted by his fiancée the whole time. Make Cut.
Jason Day (#10) will: T10.
Tiger (#who cares) will: Keep losing swing speed until I beat him in a long drive contest. Make Cut.
How many prior major winners will be in the Top 10: 4
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Win
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Players sweat straight through their long pants.

TG (guest post)
Winner: Xander Schauffele
Winning Score: -9
Runner Up: Tommy Fleetwood
Low PGA Professional: Michael Block
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Russel Henley
Last Year’s Winner (Justin Thomas, OWGR #2) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Top 10
The Master’s Winner (Reed, #12) Will: Miss Cut
The US Open Winner (Koepka, #4) Will: Make Cut
The Open Champion (Molinari, #6) Will: Make Cut
Dustin Johnson (OWGR #1) will: Top 10
Justin Rose (#3) will: Top 10
Rory McIlroy (#5) will: Make Cut
Jon Rahm (#7) will: Miss Cut
Jordan Spieth (#8) will: Make Cut
Rickie Fowler (#9) will: Make Cut
Jason Day (#10) will: Top 10
Tiger (#who cares) will: Top 10
How many prior major winners will be in the Top 10: 4
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Everyone blows up
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Tiger with ladies of the evening

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This year’s contest will take place at the site of arguably the greatest meltdown in golf history, or possibly sports history.  Jean Van de Velde held a three stroke lead going into the 18th hole at Carnoustie in 1999.  It’s painful to watch, but here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dR1pkCGY80.

Happier memories of this course include it being the final stop on JK and LG’s trip to Scotland now two years ago.  We got a first hand look at why this course is called CarNasty.  It was one of the only times we were rained upon during the trip, and the course played VERY tough.  The course this week appear to favor a strong and creative short game given the baked out and fast conditions.  Perhaps the wind will kick up and give Carnoustie the teeth it is known for.  Expect dreams to be shattered around Hogan’s alley, and for the 17th and 18th holes to play meaningful roles in determining the winner or loser.

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LG:
WIN: Sergio Garcia
PLACE: Rory McIlroy
SHOW:  Henrick Stenson
Winning Score: -10
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Last Year’s Winner (Spieth) Will …: Make Cut
The Master’s Winner (Reed) Will …: Miss Cut
The US Open Winner (Koepka) Will …: Miss Cut
The current PGA Champion (Thomas) will …: Make Cut
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Sergio wins and redeems himself!
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Sergio winning, duh
Who is most likely to “Sergio Garcia at Carnoustie” it? I guess I’m going to have to say Rory given who I’ve got coming in second?
Will you watch on Sunday? Absolutely.
Tiger Woods will: Make cut and make a run
Sergio Garcia will: WIN
Dustin Johnson will: Make cut and make a quad somewhere
Jason Day will: Miss cut
Rory McIlroy will: Top 10 (2nd)
Phil Mickelson will: Make cut? honestly don’t care.

JK:
WIN: Russell Knox
PLACE: Tommy Fleetwood
SHOW: Tiger Woods
Winning Score: +2
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Beau Hossler
Last Year’s Winner (Spieth) Will … Make Cut
The Master’s Winner (Reed) Will …: Top 10
The US Open Winner (Koepka) Will …: Make Cut
The current PGA Champion (Thomas) will …: Make Cut
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 1
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Everyone else loses it
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? A Scot wins in Scotland
Who is most likely to “Sergio Garcia at Carnoustie” it? LG. I mean…this should obviously be called JVDV-ing it!
Will you watch on Sunday? Definitely
Tiger Woods will: Top 10
Sergio Garcia will: MC
Dustin Johnson will: Top 10
Jason Day will: Make Cut
Rory McIlroy will: Miss Cut
Phil Mickelson will: Miss Cut

Shinnecock Hills looks nuts.

JK:
Winner: Rory McIlroy
Winning Score: -2
Runner Up: Jason Day
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Alex Noren
Last Year’s Winner (Koepka) will…: Make the Cut
Masters Champion (Reed) will …: Top 10
British Open Champion (Spieth (OWGR #4)) will …: Miss the cut
PGA Champion (Justin Thomas (OWGR #2)) will…: Make the cut
Last week’s winner, DJ (OWGR #1), will…: Top 3
Justin Rose (OWGR #3) will: Make the cut
Jon Rahm (OWGR #5) will: Top 10
Phil Mickelson (6x runner up) will: Miss cut
Tiger Woods (duh) will: Make cut on the number
Will anyone break par for all 4 rounds?: no way
What will be the highest score that misses the cut?: +19
What will be the highest single hole score?: 11
What will be the major storyline of the tournament: Cory Pavin
Bold Prediction?: There are more Cory Pavin videos than Rolex commercials, and everyone forgets that Retief Goosen won it at Shinnecock more recently than Pavin.

LG might not be able to put in his predictions, so let me just fill in what I already know he’s going to say…
Winner: Tiger
Winning Score: -1,000,000
Runner Up: Tiger! He gets all spots!
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Who cares? Tiger!
Last Year’s Winner (Koepka) will…: Loser!
Masters Champion (Reed) will …: Loser!
British Open Champion (Spieth (OWGR #4)) will …: Loser!
PGA Champion (Justin Thomas (OWGR #2)) will…: Loser!
Last week’s winner, DJ (OWGR #1), will…: Loser!
Justin Rose (OWGR #3) will: Loser!
Jon Rahm (OWGR #5) will: Loser!
Phil Mickelson (6x runner up) will: Double Loser!
Tiger Woods (duh) will: TIGER!!!! WIN THAT SHIT!!
Will anyone break par for all 4 rounds?: TIGER!!!
What will be the highest score that misses the cut?: who cares? GO TIGER!
What will be the highest single hole score?: TIGER!
What will be the major storyline of the tournament: TIGER!
Bold Prediction?: TIIIIIIIIIIGER!

Prediction: 2018 Masters

April 5, 2018

Finally, it’s back. The golf season can start again. But it won’t begin if LG and I don’t pick our guys for this year. Without further ado, here it goes…

JK:
Winner: Justin Rose
Winning Score: -9
Runner Up: Tiger Woods
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Alex Noren
Last Year’s Winner (Sergio) will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): MC
The US Open Champion (Brooks Koepka) will …: MC
The Champion Golfer of 2017 (Jordan Spieth) will …: Top 10
PGA Champion (Justin Thomas) will …: Top 10
How many prior Masters winners will be in the Top 10: 3
The Low Amateur will be…: Doc Redman
Does the Low Amateur make the cut?: Yes
Jordan Spieth will … Top 10
Jason Day will … MC
Rory McIlroy will … Top 10
Hideki Matsuyama will … Make Cut
Justin Thomas will … Top 10
Rickie Fowler will … Top 10
Adam Scott will … Make Cut
Bubba Watson will … Miss Cut
Sergio Garcia will … Miss Cut
Phil Mickeslon will … Top 10
Bernhard Langer will … Make Cut
Will there be a hole in one? Yes – 12…someone finally does it.
What will be the major storyline of the tournament? I already got it–this is awesome: https://www.cbssports.com/golf/news/watch-jack-nicklaus-grandson-hits-a-hole-in-one-at-the-masters-par-3-tournament/
What is your Bold prediction? Tiger Woods doesn’t fall out of contention.

LG:
Winner: Tiger Woods
Winning Score: -10
Runner Up: Rory McIlroy
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Xander Schauffele
Last Year’s Winner (Sergio) will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): make cut
The US Open Champion (Brooks Koepka) will …: MC hammer
The Champion Golfer of 2017 (Jordan Spieth) will …: top 10
PGA Champion (Justin Thomas) will …: top 10
How many prior Masters winners will be in the Top 10: 4
The Low Amateur will be…: Doc Redman
Does the Low Amateur make the cut?: No
Jordan Spieth will … Top 10
Jason Day will … make cut
Rory McIlroy will … runner up
Hideki Matsuyama will … top 10
Justin Thomas will … top 10
Rickie Fowler will … make cut
Adam Scott will … mc
Bubba Watson will … make cut
Sergio Garcia will … make cut
Phil Mickeslon will … top 10
Bernhard Langer will … be there?
Will there be a hole in one? Yes.
What will be the major storyline of the tournment? Best masters of our lifetime. I’m sorry, JK, no one cares about the par 3 contest. It’s great, but no one will remember this.
What is your Bold prediction? Tiger wins green jacket #5.

We’re about to embark on Glory’s Last Shot, the redheaded stepchild of majors. Nonetheless, this one should be interesting thanks to the location (Quail Hollow) and the man who is on top of golf at the moment, Jordan Spieth. The dovetail is that the course, known for its tricky greens, should prove a masterful test for Spieth, who many consider the best putter in the game right now (and maybe ever). Will he complete the grand slam? We’ll know in a week. Until then, here are our predictions:

JK:

Winner: Jordan Spieth
Winning Score: -11
Runner Up: Rory McIlroy
Low PGA Professional: Mike Small
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Rafa Cabrera-Bello
Last Year’s Winner (Jimmy Walker) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make the cut
The Master’s Winner (Sergio) Will: Top 10
The US Open Winner (Koepka) Will: Miss the Cut
The Open Champion (Spieth) Will: Win
Dustin Johnson (world #1) will: Top 10
Hideki Matsuyama (#3) will: Top 10
Rory McIlroy (#4) will: Top 10
Jon Rahm (#6) will: MC
Jason Day (#7) will: MC
Rickie Fowler (#11) will: Make the cut
How many prior major winners will be in the Top 10: 6
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Spieth hangs on after a few masterful rounds early
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Grand Slam Spieth

LG:

Winner: Hideki Matsuyama
Winning Score: -16
Runner Up: Dustin Johnson
Low PGA Professional: Brian Smock!  Let’s goooo!!!
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Tommy Fleetwood (If Rafa is an unknown, so is Tommy)
Last Year’s Winner (Jimmy Walker) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make Cut
The Master’s Winner (Sergio) Will: Make Cut
The US Open Winner (Koepka) Will: Make Cut
The Open Champion (Spieth) Will: Top 10
Dustin Johnson (world #1) will: See Above
Hideki Matsuyama (#3) will: Make Cut/Top 10
Rory McIlroy (#4) will: Make Cut
Jon Rahm (#6) will: Miss Cut
Jason Day (#7) will: Miss Cut
Rickie Fowler (#11) will: Miss cut
How many prior major winners will be in the Top 10: 3
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Hideki fires 62 one day to take the lead and hangs on.  Looks like every shot is a shank in the process.
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Spieth doesn’t Grand Slam.  Golf press instantly forgets that Japanese Phenom wins major and goes back to talking about how Speith will win the grand slam next year.

Time for one of our famous back-and-forth chats (in public) about a topic that I think is an interesting debate: is Jordan Spieth what golf needs right now?

JK:

I proposed this topic because I believe I know that LG’s answer would be different from mine. You see, LG is an unabashed fan of Tiger Woods; in his mind–and with some truth to the myth–all golfers are mere mortals in a divine playground for one great God: The Big Cat. And it cannot be denied that Tiger Woods did some amazing things on the golf course–things that are unparalleled even to this day.

With that said, Tiger Woods simply cannot be the standard by which all golf is measured, and I feel my co-author often has too high expectations for the golfing elite of today. Yes, the Rory McIlroys and Dustin Johnsons of this PGA era can rival some of Tiger Woods’s physical abilities, but it’s unfair to compare their skill or mental game to the greatest of all time.

And, thus, to LG (and to our readers), I pose the question: is Jordan Spieth what golf needs today?

and I answer it “yes.”

Maybe that answer is qualified a bit. If determining what golf “needs” is finding someone who can help the game stay healthy, growing, and interesting, then I think Spieth is a resounding “yes.” While this may be anecdotal, in the days since Spieth’s victory, I have seen countless examples of greater interest at my local driving range, at my local course, in conversations with fellow golfers. It seems like everyone is coming out of the woodwork to get in the game. No, this isn’t like when Tiger Woods created a new demographic of interest in the game, but it is a revitalization that is much-needed–and much overdue.

Why is Spieth what golf needs? In my humble opinion, golf is perhaps the most personally reachable game that gets consistently put on television. It’s something that you can do even if you’re overweight, lost a leg, can’t see out of one eye, can’t walk straight, etc. etc. etc. And it’s still a challenge no matter your skill level because your main competition is yourself. That means that the professional level is aspirational for many of us. What we see the pros do we automatically want to do. If a pro throws grass in the air, we start doing it. If our favorite pro changes his shaft, we want to check out that new shaft (don’t tell me you never tried the Tour AD DI when Tiger Woods started using it). We are constantly grinding in an attempt to improve.

But the game that we see on TV for almost all TOUR pros nowadays is something that is utterly unreachable. Even on our best drives of the year, we can’t carry the ball 340 like DJ. Even on a jumper downwind downhill, we can’t hit a 7-iron 215 like Rory. Even with months of practice, we can’t reliably flop the ball to within a foot of the hole and have it stop on a dime like Phil.

But we can do what Spieth can.

At least, that’s what we can tell ourselves.

When you look at Jordan Spieth’s game, nothing really flashes out. Yes, he is a brilliant putter–one of the best the TOUR has ever seen. But no matter how flashy that is, we can all see ourselves making a long putt here or there. And otherwise his game never seems too flashy. Many times, he looks human. How many guys have ever sliced the ball onto the driving range? If you’re reading this and have two thumbs, congrats–it’s you. So when Spieth hit his ball further right than the R&A even anticipated any TOUR pro would, we kind of sort of related to that. Making 5 from the driving range (with a penalty drop, no less) is beyond impressive, but that’s not really the focal point of that event. When you watch Spieth, it almost looks like he hits his iron shots a little heavy. His iron gaps are within the range of a normal human being. His driver averages 292.3–not short, but something that many good players can achieve. And even if you can’t achieve it, you might easily be able to get within 20 yards of that.

In other words, his game is relate-able.

And, on a personal level, it’s hard to find any sports figure with a better public image. He’s kind to everyone and seems to make no huge mistakes despite being in his early 20s. He seems to understand his place in history but still tries to remain humble, a trait that Americans–and golfers in general–seem to fall for (maybe because it’s so rare nowadays). He’s even going bald–and admits it.

In other words, Jordan Spieth is making golf approachable again…in much the same way that Tiger Woods made golf exciting. If there’s anything the sport needs, it’s true excitement, but if I can’t have that, let’s make it approachable. Let’s have a guy who’s a role model, a good dude in general, and a great golfer.

And the guy can putt the lights out!

LG:

So the question is: Is Jordan Spieth what golf needs right now?  Based on the way he’s setup this discussion, JK’s right.  I mostly disagree.

JK actually answers the question the same way I do – golf needs to be more exciting than it is now if it is to stay healthy and vibrant.  If we assume people watching professional golf is an indicator of the game’s healthiness, then golf needs to be exciting for it to stay healthy.  In other words, professional golf needs to attract more new players to the game.

I completely respect what Jordan is trying to do as a professional athlete, but I don’t think he’s “what golf needs right now.”  Every tournament Jordan plays in and wins provides a masterclass in course management and putting, and yes, he also has a perfect public image.  But that’s not why we watch professional athletes.  We don’t watch professional athletics to see things we can do.  We watch to be awed.  We watch to see the ridiculous.  We watch to be entertained.  We watched MJ because of his insane work ethic and desire to win.  We watch Steph Curry because he makes passes and the shots that no one should make.  We watched Tiger because he’s the best forever in the clutch and it was assumed that he could win regardless of where he was in the field.  Listening to Jordan talk about going bald is about as exciting as the thought of talking to your parents about the facts of life.

I agree with everything JK says above regarding Jordan’s game and how it makes golf approachable.  But, Jordan’s game only makes golf approachable to people with interest in golf already.  It is interesting for me as a golf nut to see someone win majors without doing superhuman things with the golf ball, but it is not exciting.  I can’t honestly remember the last time I watched Jordan play more than 9 holes.  The last time I watched him play 9 holes was the back nine at the Masters, which even non-golf people watch…because its the Masters. I’m definitely not turning on the Valspar Championship to see how Jordan Spieth takes on the back nine at whatever course that tournament is played.

I do think Jordan can inject this excitement into his game if he continues to win at his current pace.  The narrative will then be Jordan chasing down Tiger and Jack, which means the excitement comes from chasing down two of the most exciting and greatest players of all time, not from his game per se.  Can he deal with the weight of history? Can he close?  All indications are yes, but the possibility of failure is why we would watch.

 

a.k.a the British Open; a.k.a. THE Open Championship.  Come on guys, get your branding together.

This year, the 146th playing of the world’s oldest major championship will be played at Royal Birkdale.  Previous winners have included Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Ian Baker Finch, and Paddy Harrington.  While length doesn’t really figure into the equation with Open courses, the setup at Birkdale has only 2 par 5s, and they show up at the very end of the round at 15 and 17.  The pundits say this takes the bombers out of the equation, but hey, what do they know?

In the spirit of continuous improvement, the PowerFade is experimenting with a new format for predictions.  Happy Open viewing!

1 | Spieth, Jordan | -12
2 | Kuchar, Matt | -9
3 | Li, Hao-Tong | -6
T4 | Cabrera Bello, Rafa | -5
T4 | McIlroy, Rory | -5
T6 | Grace, Branden | -4
T6 | Koepka, Brooks | -4
T6 | Leishman, Marc | -4
T6 | Noren, Alexander | -4
T6 | Southgate, Matthew | -4
T11 | Casey, Paul | -3
T11 | Kim, Chan | -3
T11 | Stenson, Henrik | -3
T14 | Connelly, Austin | -2
T14 | Dufner, Jason | -2
T14 | Johnson, Zach | -2
T14 | Matsuyama, Hideki | -2
T14 | Poulter, Ian | -2
T14 | Wood, Chris | -2

LG:
Relative to par, what will be the cut on Friday night? +4 close, +5

List three players that will Top 10 (in order):
1. Sergio Garcia T37, +2
2. Ian Poulter T14, -2
3. John Rahm T44, +3

List three players that will make the cut (other than above):
1. Rickie Fowler T22, E
2. Henrik Stenson T11, -3
3. Adam Scott T22

List three players that will miss the cut:
1. Kevin Chappell Cut, +8
2. Jason Dufner T14, -2
3. J.B. Holmes T54, +4

Will the winner come from the morning draw on Thursday or the Afternoon draw on Thursday? Afternoon Jordan Spieth, -12 – Teed off 4:47 AM Eastern time, which was 8:47 AM, i.e., in the morning draw

Will you watch the coverage? YES! no idea, LG?

JK:
Relative to par, what will be the cut on Friday night? E a little aggressive

List three players that will Top 10 (in order):
1. Rory McIlroy T4, -5
2. Dustin Johnson T54, +4
3. Rickie Fowler T22, E

List three players that will make the cut (other than above):
1. Henrik Stenson see above
2. Phil Mickelson Cut, +10
3. Tommy Fleetwood T27, +1

List three players that will miss the cut:
1. Ian Poulter see above
2. Rafa Cabrera-Bello T4, -5
3. John Daly Cut, +12,000

Will the winner come from the morning draw on Thursday or the Afternoon draw on Thursday? Morning correct

Will you watch the coverage? Nope. Just cut the cable (yikes!) managed to get some in on NBC Sports app