Commentary | Fearless forecasts for 2013 in local, national golf

jdill@bradenton.comJanuary 5, 2013 

Golf is back for another season.

Because the Mayans didn't predict the end of the world, yours truly is here for some more precise forecasting.

And as you may recall, last year's column made some rather accurate observations that could earn me the nickname Nostrajournamus.

Alas, here's what I said leading into 2012:

Tiger Woods

The former No. 1 player in the world will win three or four times without a major title. The 2012 season will bring Woods back from a deep slumber and push him closer to regaining his early 2000s dominance.

Verdict: Pretty spot-on as Woods won three times and did not move closer to Jack Nicklaus' all-time record for major championships.

Rory McIlroy

The Northern Irishman is "oozing talent and pizzazz."

That wasn't a novel observation considering McIlroy crushed the field at the previous summer's United States Open following the Masters final round implosion. But it predicted McIlroy's ascension into becoming a player worthy of dominating golf like Woods used to and clearly stamping himself as the game's best.

Verdict: Not quite dominant as Tiger used to be, because McIlroy didn't make every cut in 2012. However, he did win four times on the PGA Tour, including a major, and got hot at the end of the season (three victories out of the final six PGA Tour events) en route to claiming the No. 1 ranking in the world.

Now it's time for some predictions coming into the 2013 season, including the local scene:

Pope Golf

Expect the management group to expand its operations locally by gaining an additional course or two in the area. They're already moving forward with a new course in Lakewood Ranch, a sign the local economy might be recovering.

Sara Bay

Expect the tradition-rich Donald Ross-designed course to have more success than last spring when it hosts the Symetra Tour for a second straight year. Last year's inaugural tournament was beset by difficult weather conditions that wreaked havoc for the field. The scoring resembled a U.S. Open rather than a regular developmental tour event. Nonetheless, this year's tourney should gain more attention from local fans, especially after a title sponsor was added for 2013.

Tiger Woods

Expect Tiger Woods to finally win another major. If he doesn't, then he's probably eliminating himself from catching and passing the Golden Bear's magical mark of 18 major victories. His best chance most likely resides with the annual spring gathering at Augusta National.

The majors

Expect more drama to unfold as a first-time winner is surely to emerge at a major this year. With the exception of the 2000 season, every year this century has produced a first-time major champion. In fact, there have been at least two brand new major champs each year dating to the 2009 season.

Anchored putters

Expect the debate to rage on, with professionals attempting to change the United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club's view that anchored putters should be banned from the game. They'll most likely fail in this endeavor, but arguments will last all year.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017. Follow him on Twitter @Jason_Dill.

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