IIn my previous incarnation as a sports columnist in Augusta, Georgia, I started each year with a forecast column. He usually summarizes the successes* and failures of the previous calendar year before venturing into the unknown a new sports season might bring. It was one of the most fun pointless endeavors of the year but always a good conversation starter after the holidays.
* While there have been a surprisingly high number of good guesses among the many errors in nearly two decades of annual forecasts, the high-water mark came on the brink of 2004 as the predicted column: Phil Mickelson’s comeback from his worst career season finally broke his grand maiden at the Masters ; The Boston Red Sox break an 86-year-old curse by winning the World Series; Newly resigned Washington Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier opted to return to college football later that year for the South Carolina Gamecocks. If you spend some cash in Vegas on this unlikely trifecta.
Golf has treaded in uncharted waters over the past year, as the LIV Golf turmoil continues to send waves of turmoil across the professional and top amateur scene. The PGA Tour has realigned its schedule formula to try and get a grip on the game’s highest score. LIV CEO Greg Norman promises more disruption. Lawsuits remain pending. It seems like a good time to get rid of the crystal ball and try to understand what the game might bring our way in 2023. So here are bold predictions for what promises to be another bumpy golf season:
- Another handful of players will sign their competitive spirits away from Saudi Riches before LIV’s first full golf season gets underway in February, but the departures won’t be nearly as high as some of the high-profile names departing in 2022. The loss will be Mito Pereira of Chile. Colombia’s Sebastian Muñoz will add to the South American squad. Despite persistent rumours, there won’t be major defections like Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele or Victor Hovland – at least not this year.
- LIV Golf will hold a five-day hearing in early February to decide the fate of the DP World Tour suspension and fines for departing members that were suspended by a UK court last summer. It is difficult to compare jurisprudence in the UK versus the US, but if there is any real justice, the Euro Tour will be given the right to apply its own rules and penalties as it sees fit and prevent LIV golfers from wrecking their courses.
- LIV will buy its way into some sort of TV arrangement. It is imperative for the model to grow, and surely some major network or streaming service (Fox? Amazon?) is willing to take the Saudis’ money to air some of David Weherty’s pranks.
- As a karmic hitter for the farce (in hindsight) that occurred at the 150 Open Championship at St Andrews, the golf gods will finally give Rory McIlroy a run by winning the Augusta National in a duel with Cam Smith.
- It’s going to be a big year for the Euros on the main stages, with John Rahm (PGA Championship at Oak Hill) and Tommy Fleetwood (British Open at Holick) joining McIlroy as winners and Victor Hovland taking the Players Championship. America’s only major winner will be Will Zlatoris at the US Open in Los Angeles.
- However, Team USA would defeat the Road Devils and pick up a victory for captain Zack Johnson in the Ryder Cup in Italy – 16-12. The American team is simply too deep to fail.
- The European ladies won the Solheim Cup for the third time in a row – 14½ – 13½.
- Lydia Ko wins another major tournament in the process of crossing the threshold of the LPGA Hall of Fame and retires at the end of the LPGA season to become World No. 1.
- Michael Thorbjornsen beats Gordon Sargent to win the heavyweight title fight against the US Amateur in Cherry Hills. Rose Zhang won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in a home game at Bel Air Stadium.
- With Honda exiting after 42 years as the title sponsor of the Florida Swinging Tour event, the 2023 Honda Classic may be the last at the PGA National. If that’s the case, the Valspar Championships in Innisbrook could take over the late-February date with the Houston Open returning to regular season rotation after the Players Championship. Davis Love III’s RSM Classic at Sea Island will be a major regular season contender if anything else opens up.
- Tiger Woods will play and win in three majors at Augusta, Los Angeles CC and Hoylick. He will skip the PGA Championship this year in Oak Hill. He would go on to win the PIP bowl because even small doses of Tiger move the needle like no one else can.
- OWGR will present LIV Golf with an ultimatum: at least chip 36 holes or you won’t get the world ranking points. This is one area where LIV might want to bend over, cutting the individual leaderboard down to 30 or so while everyone else continues to play for the team component.
- Patrick Reed’s frivolous lawsuit against select members of the media will be ridiculed – but not before Reid adds me to the list for simply saying this. I hope he will be required to pay any court costs for every person who has harassed him because of his unsubstantiated allegations.
- First-time Tour winners this season will include Cameron Young, Saith Thigala, Davis Riley, Callum Taryn, Hayden Buckley, Grayson Sieg and two of the Taylors: Pendreth and Montgomery.
- This year’s Scotty Scheffler, who turned from a winless finish to No. 1 in the sub-50s last season, will be Kam Young. Once he breaks his boys, he’ll add multiple wins before 2023 is out.
- Rickie Fowler is back with a PGA Tour win.
- Assuming I was right about Xander Schauffele’s commitment to the PGA Tour, he will be rewarded with a FedEx Cup title at the end of the season.
- Neither Phil Mickelson nor Bryson DeChambeau will win a LIV Series event. Their competitiveness is in dire straits: money for nothing.
© 2023 Global Golf Post LLC