Another year in golf is in the books, so our best Nostradamus impersonation is on full display to help you get ready for the 2017 season.
But before we delve into the 2017 predictions, a glance back at 2016 is in order.
And what better place to start than Dustin Johnson.
This was DJ’s year. In 2015, it was all about Jordan Spieth. The Texan is still very, very good even in spite of his Masters meltdown.
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Johnson, though, turned his U.S. Open heartbreak that year into a major triumph this year, and dominated the PGA Tour.
Johnson followed the pattern that guys like Rory McIlroy and Jason Day executed: follow near-misses at majors to fuel the flame in attaining major championship glory.
No longer was his close call at the 2010 PGA Championship, where he grounded his club in a waste bunker that was deemed a penalty and cost him a spot in the playoff, or the three-putt on the 72nd hole at the 2015 U.S. Open to cost himself another chance in a playoff, the defining moments of his career.
Johnson shed the “best player to never have won a major” label in June.
But Johnson wasn’t the only player to record some memorable 2016 moments.
In a Ryder Cup year, it’s easy to pick from that event. However, with the United States steamrolling Europe, the PGA Tour circuit is where to find the best nerves moment of 2016.
And that belongs to Jimmy Walker, who overcame Jason Day’s late eagle to capture the PGA Championship. That event is the most overlooked major of the four each year, but Walker and Day’s battle gave it a thrilling conclusion.
CAN’T BEAT PATRIOTISM
The long, long wait for golf’s return to the Olympics ended this past summer in Brazil.
And guess what? The controversies surrounding the Summer Games, with the Zika virus threat topping concerns, saw several marquee players not participate. And they missed out. Golf fans everywhere were treated to an exciting tournament on the men’s side, with Justin Rose holding off British Open champion Henrik Stenson and American Matt Kuchar to win the gold medal.
There was immense pride for those competitors, the rest of the men and the women led by Inbee Park’s dominating victory that hasn’t been seen outside of the biennial match play events (Ryder Cup, President’s Cup or Solheim Cup).
There are so many to narrow down to just one, but this year’s Guardian Retirement Championship, the LPGA Symetra Tour stop at Sara Bay Country Club, was exhilarating. Regulation couldn’t determine a winner, so we had sudden-death playoff golf. Brittany Altomare triumphed over Nicole Broch Larsen, but it wasn’t easy. The two played the par-5 18th — the designated playoff hole — five times! Sticking with women’s golf, Nelly Korda joining older sister Jessica on the LPGA Tour with her top 10 finish on the Symetra Tour’s season-ending money list was a special moment, too, for area fans.
2017 MAJOR CHAMPS?
Look for Rory McIlroy to complete the career grand slam with a victory at Augusta National in the spring at the Masters. The rest of the majors should see some first-timers break through. And don’t be surprised if Sergio Garcia finally ends his major drought.
So there you have it. Check back in April when the Masters winds down to see how we did. If we’re a little off, we’ll just make sure to ask for a crystal ball next holiday season.