Here, our guest blogger Jordan Fuller tells us what we should all be looking forward to in 2018.
Looking back, the 2017 golf season was full of surprises. Few predicted Justin Thomas to win the PGA, with McIlroy and Spieth being co-favorites at the start of the year. I’m also sure the hype of Garcia vs Justin Rose at last year’s Masters is still strong for many of us. Yet, arguably the highlight of last season is also Jordan Spieth’s dramatic, roller coaster win against Matt Kuchar at The Open.
Will we get another great season? Here are the four things we can expect from the 2018 golf season.
2018 Masters Tournament
The 2018 Masters Tournament at the legendary Augusta National in Georgia is quickly approaching.
On paper, we might get one of the best Masters ever with a long list of excellent contenders.
The defending champion Sergio Garcia and last year’s runner-up Justin Rose will obviously be favorites this year, as well as names like Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Paul Casey.
Catch Sergio's winning putt from 2017 below:
Yet, arguably many eyes are focused on two veterans of the game: first is the recently rejuvenated Phil Mickelson, who just won his 43rd PGA Tour Victory last month, ending his winless drought spanning back to 2013. Now 47, it’s amazing that he can still manage a fourth consecutive top-six appearance of his career and that he’s still able to play some awesome golf shots (many with his wedges!) the way he currently does.
Second? The surging Tiger Woods, which will be our next point of discussion.
The Return of Tiger Woods
Many experts and golf enthusiasts welcomed Tiger Woods’ full-year return to the green in a pessimistic stance, and with a little mockery. Well, it’s hardly a surprise, considering his media attention throughout virtually all of his career over the past two decades; always a mix between criticism and awe.
Just a month ago, many questioned Tiger’s health and ability to stay at the top of the game, much less being a favorite for the upcoming Masters. Yet, with his runner-up finish at the Valspar Championship and impressive performance at Bay Hill, many now consider Woods as the favorite not only for the Masters, but also for other top tournaments this season.
Check out Tiger's views on Augusta National's famed 'Amen Corner' below:
His odds - according to Vegas odds - have risen from 50/1 last month to 8/1 just a week ago, to win the upcoming Masters, and that’s saying a lot for the veteran.
Like it or not, Tiger Woods is still the brightest star of the game, and considering he’s still far from his 100% best, it will be an interesting season to follow with one big question: Can Woods give us another glimpse of his greatness this year?
Rory McIlroy’s Return From Injury
If there’s no Tiger Woods, probably the return of Rory McIlroy from a pretty bad rib injury in February of last year and an injury-plagued 2017 season will be one of the biggest headlines in golf news. Last January, he placed third at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which is an impressive return considering he hadn’t played for more than 100 days.
After resting for more than three months, McIlroy appeared to be fit and healthy, and he is preparing for an ambitious season, especially for the Masters which he is very desperate to win to complete his career Grand Slam.
Considering he’s been on the scene for quite some time, it’s easy to forget that he’s just 28, and still has a lot to offer in his career. Recently, he got himself his first PGA Tour title since the 2016 Tour, with an excellent performance at Bay Hill.
Catch the highlights from the Arnold Palmer Invitational below:
Many now consider him one of the top contenders for the upcoming Masters, and arguably, a part of Rory’s charm is his surprise element. A lot of the time, he plays very poorly when we expect otherwise, and vice versa, sometimes he’s an absolute beast when we least expect it.
Let’s hope he will indeed fully recover from his injury, and maintain his hunger to surprise us, not only at the Masters, but throughout the whole season. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for any magic he may achieve with his drivers.
Kevin Kisner’s Confirmation Year
Kevin Kisner might not be a golfing household name (not yet, at least), and certainly not one of the top favorites in winning this season’s top tournaments. Yet, he’s always one of the media favorites and one of the pro players a lot of us can relate to. A family man, down-home southern boy turns pro, a classic Tour player that doesn’t hit it long, but he can definitely golf his ball from 100 yards and in.
This year will mark his 12th major, after he missed a top-10 finish in previous years. 34 now, his last major win on the PGA was last May at the Dean & DeLuca, beating Jordan Spieth, Sean O’ Hair, and Jon Rahm by just one stroke.
Watch Kisner's final round highlights below:
The 2018 season might just be his confirmation year. Kisner always somehow shows glimpses of greatness every season, which is really charming with his classic playstyle, and this year, maybe, just maybe, it will be his year.
There are obviously other highlights we can expect this season: will there be another surprise? Will there be another young talent rising virtually from nowhere? Will there be another drama at the Masters or Open?
What do you think will be the highlight of the season? What is on the top of your list of what to expect? Leave it in the comment section below.