The 2021-2022 PGA Tour Season begins this week with the Fortinet Championship. Before the season officially gets underway, I’d like to make some predictions about the upcoming season, including which players will win the four majors, who will earn their first career PGA Tour win, which players will end long winless streaks, which marquee players will go winless, and who the Fedex Cup Champion will be.
The Major Winners:
The Masters: Jon Rahm- Augusta National is a course that suits Rahm’s style of play, as he has 4 top 10’s in 5 career starts at The Masters, including shooting a final round 66 to vault into the top 5 in the most recent playing this past April. Rahm ranked in the top 10 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Approach the Green and ranked 1st in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Total this past season. If Rahm’s putter doesn’t go astray in April, he will slip into the Green Jacket after winning The Masters.
The PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele- The PGA Championship returns to Southern Hills Country Club in 2022. Designed by Perry Maxwell, Southern Hills sets up as a ball-striker’s paradise with a premium on great putting. Schauffele has both, ranking in the top 20 in both Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and Putting this past season. With 9 top 10 finishes in just 18 major starts, Schauffele shows up to the biggest stages with a chance to win. I predict that Xander will rebound from a winless season in a big way by capturing The PGA Championship.
The US Open: Corey Conners- The Country Club at Brookline is one of the Five Founding Clubs of the USGA and is a course steeped in history. A diabolical set up with small greens and thick rough, this course will benefit ball-strikers the most. Length won’t be a factor, as the course will play around 7,300 yards. Enter Corey Conners. Hitting just over 70% of his fairways and just under 70% of his greens in regulation, Conners has a game that sets up perfectly for this type of course. Conners has had the most problems with the short game, having negative Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and Putting. If Conners can start rolling the putts in and getting up and down around the green, he can contend with the best of them. A bit of a surprise pick, I predict that Corey Conners will win the US Open.
The Open Championship: Sergio Garcia- The Open Championship is a wide open event, as the best in today’s game have a strong chance to win, but so do the wily veterans who may not be playing their A game, but have the past playing experience on links-style courses. Sergio Garcia’s most dominant days are well behind him, but he still has some gas in the tank, ranking in the top 15 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Tee-to-Green and winning the Sanderson Farms Championship last fall. Garcia has 10 top 10’s at the Open Championship in 24 starts, including 2 runner-up finishes and 2 top 10 showings at St. Andrews, the host of this season’s Open Championship. If he can stay in the moment and focus on the shot at hand, Sergio Garcia will be the Champion Golfer of the Year.
FedEx Cup Winner: Jon Rahm- Jon Rahm is one of the few players in the game today who could legitimately win every single week on tour. Finishing 2nd in the FedEx Cup this year after 1 win and 15 top 10’s in 22 starts, Rahm has shown he has what it takes to contend week in and week out. Rahm saved his best play for the end of the year, closing with 5 straight top 10’s, 4 of which were 3rd place or better showings. And if not for the W/D from the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide while leading after 3 rounds, he would’ve had a streak of 7 straight top 10’s to close the season. He has finished in the top 12 in all 5 trips to East Lake, including back to back top 5 showings. Jon Rahm is the future of golf and will be the man the beat for years to come, which is why he will walk away with the FedEx Cup at season’s end!
First Time Winners:
Vincent Whaley- The 283rd ranked golfer in the world, Whaley showed consistency last season, including a stretch of 9 straight tournaments where he finished 36th or better. Although he didn’t light up the board in his stats last year, he did make every single putt he faced inside of 3 feet, which is important when you’re standing over a pressure-packed putt on Sunday. If Whaley can improve his all-around game this year, he will become a first time PGA Tour winner.
Bo Hoag- The pride of Columbus, OH, Hoag had a quiet season on tour, with just 6 top 25’s in 32 starts. Hoag’s iron play his strength, as he hit just under 70% of his greens last season. His short game has been his biggest hinderance, as he ranked 174th in Strokes Gained: Proximity to the Hole from the Sand, gets up and down 46% of the time from the 20-30 yard range and gets up and down just 26% of the time outside of 30 yards. If he improves his skills around the green, Hoag too will win his maiden tour event.
Hank Lebioda- Lebioda showed flashes of brilliance last season, with a stretch of 3 straight top 10’s late in the summer where he went a combined -42 to secure his tour card for this season. Lebioda’s short game is his strength, ranking 5th in Strokes Gained: Proximity to the Hole from the Sand and 7th in both Scrambling and Scrambling from the Rough, as well as 27th in Strokes Gained: Putting. If he can improve his play from the tee, Lebioda will become a PGA Tour winner.
Maverick McNealy- McNealy had a solid season this last go around, with 2 top 10’s and 11 top 25’s in 26 starts. Like Whaley, McNealy also doesn’t light up the board in any one particular stat. McNealy had a stretch of 7 straight top 30 finishes near the end of the season, proving he has the consistency to contend each week on tour. If McNealy continues to improve his all around game, he too will become a first-time PGA Tour winner.
Cameron Tringale- A veteran on tour, Tringale had one of his best seasons to date, with 4 top 10’s and 11 top 25’s in 27 starts. Tringale has an all around solid game as well, ranking in the top 50 in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green, Around-the-Green, Putting, Tee-to-Green, and Total. His glaring issue is from the tee, as he lost strokes and ranked 115th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. If he can keep the ball in the fairway, it’s only a matter of time until Tringale breaks through for his first career win.
Players Who Will End Long Winless Streaks:
Jason Day- Day had a rough season, with just 3 top 10’s to go along with 9 missed cuts in 22 starts. It’s not his game so much as it is his back, which has caused him lots of problems of late. When Jason Day is playing pain-free, he can still contend with the best of them. If Day is able to get physically healthy, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Day has not won since 2018, but I believe he will find a way to bring home a victory in the upcoming season.
Brandt Snedeker- Another player dealing with injuries, Snedeker has shown some signs of form lately, with 5 top 20 finishes in his last 14 starts, including a top 20 showing at the Open Championship. Like Day, Snedeker also has not won since 2018. If he stays healthy and gets some more tournament reps, I have no doubt that Snedeker will return to the winners circle this season.
Kevin Streelman- Currently 56th in the world rankings, it’s hard to believe that Streelman has not won on tour since 2014. At 42 years old, Streelman still has game, with 4 top 10’s and 11 top 25’s in 30 starts this past season. Still averaging 295 yards off the tee and hitting 66% of his fairways and 69% of his greens, Streelman has the tools to win and with his recent form, it’s only a matter of time. Streelman will pick up his 3rd PGA Tour victory this season.
Charley Hoffman- Similarly to Streelman, Hoffman is ranked 62nd in the world rankings and is a few months shy of turning 45. Nonetheless, Hoffman can still ball with the best of them, earning 5 top 10’s, 14 top 25’s and having just 4 missed cuts in a season that ended just a few spots short of a trip to East Lake. Averaging over 306 yards off the tee and ranked inside the top 25 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, Approach the Green, Tee-to-Green, and Total, Hoffman is playing some of the finest golf of his career. Hoffman last won in 2016, but that stat should change soon, as Hoffman is a lock to win this season.
Brian Stuard- One of the shortest hitters on tour, averaging just over 277 yards per drive, Stuard earned his lone career win at a rain shortened Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2016. Even so, Stuard had a solid season, with 3 top 10’s and 19 made cuts in 35 starts. He may not be able to hit it as far as Bryson DeChambeau, but Stuard gets the most out of his game. If he can put the ball in play and get the putter going, Stuard will earn his second career win.
Which Players Will Go Winless:
Rickie Fowler- A fan favorite, Fowler has struggled lately. He capped off a rough campaign with just 1 top 10 and only 5 top 25’s in 24 starts. He hasn’t won since the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open and his game could use improvement across the board. Fowler will win again, but it won’t be this season.
Gary Woodland- This season was one to forget for Woodland, who had just 3 top 10’s and 6 top 25’s in 25 starts. With negative Strokes Gained both Off-the-Tee and Putting, Woodland’s game is leaking oil at both ends. Woodland has not won since the 2019 US Open and I don’t expect him to find victory this season.
Matt Kuchar- Kuchar had one of the worst seasons of his career this year, with just 1 top 10 and 4 top 25’s in 25 starts. Kuchar struggled across the board in all areas of his game and it will take quite the overhaul to get back on the right track. Kuchar will win again, but it certainly won’t be this season.
Rory McIlroy- A bold take, but I honestly don’t see McIlroy winning this season. His game is still strong, as evidenced by the win, 7 top 10’s, and 14 top 25’s in 21 starts this past year. Nonetheless, it just doesn’t seem like the drive is still there in Rory. With all he has accomplished in the game, I personally gets vibes of, let’s go out there and see what happens. If I win, I win. Maybe that’s far from the case, but Rory is either dialed in or way off the target and rarely in between. With the amount of talent on the PGA Tour this season, I predict that Rory will be kept winless.
Paul Casey- Another bold take, but I honestly think this one is a no brainer. Casey is still one of the best players in the world, but he doesn’t have the PGA Tour wins to show for it. He has won just 3 times on tour in his career, with no victories since 2019. He will regularly contend and rack up quality finishes, but at 44 years old, it gets harder and harder to contend against players half your age. Casey could legitimately never win again on tour at this stage of his career. He certainly won’t win again this season.