PGA Tour: 5 Bold Predictions for the Final Round of the Northern Trust Open

Joe Rapolla Jr.Featured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2012

PGA Tour: 5 Bold Predictions for the Final Round of the Northern Trust Open

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    February and golf aren't exactly best friends. Between the Super Bowl, college basketball, baseball starting up and the NBA and NHL in the heat of their seasons, there sometimes isn't much time for golf. 

    Add in the fact that most of the country is engulfed in sub-freezing temperatures, and you have a very limited audience of guys who want to watch the pros basking in beautiful weather at picturesque courses. 

    This February, however, golf and the aforementioned month seem to be getting along. Following Phil Mickelson's very exciting win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am, the Northern Trust Open has provided us with three stellar rounds of golf. 

    Once again, fan favorite Mickelson is leading the pack, yet he is in full, and talented, company. As the PGA has showed us more and more as of late, your final round could make or break your tournament...*cough, cough, Tiger Woods, cough, cough.*

5. Pat Perez Falls Apart

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    Pat Perez has been a nice surprise through the first three rounds of the tournament. 

    Since turning pro in 1997, Perez only has one win on the PGA Tour and only four professional wins in total. His second round of 65 on Friday was absolutely stellar, especially after shooting a 72 on Thursday. 

    The pressure was on for Perez on Saturday—he was paired with Phil Mickelson and had more of his shots televised than he ever has in his career. He made the most of the opportunity, shooting a minus-one and tying Phil for the day. 

    Unfortunately, I foresee Perez falling apart on Sunday. What will be his biggest problem? Overshooting in his approach. His balls are going to be flying over the greens. 

4. Keegan Bradley's Putting Game Keeps Him in It

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    Last year's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Keegan Bradley, is currently tied with Phil Mickelson for first in the tourney, shooting a combined minus-seven through Saturday. He shot his best round on Saturday, a five-under-66. 

    While Bradley off the tee is nothing stellar, (by pro standards) his short game rivals the best of the best; where he particularly excels is on the greens. 

    On a Sunday where Bradley may be out-driven, he will thrive on the fact that he keeps his drives in play and then make it look like his ball is rolling steel, and that the hole is magnetic. 

3. Jimmy Walker Makes Fights into the Top Three

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    Why do I like the virtually unknown Jimmy Walker? Well, because who doesn't love a Cinderella story? 

    In all seriousness, however, I really do think Walker will have a stellar round on Sunday. He shot a 72 on Thursday and Saturday, but on Friday, he shot a nice 66. 

    Down, up, down...up? I think so. 

2. Dustin Johnson Finds Himself in Another Heartbreaker

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    If there is anything that has remained consistent in the Tour over the past few years, it's that Dustin Johnson might be the best golfer who never wins. 

    There are few flaws in Johnson's game, yet there is no question that he should have more than five PGA Tour wins. We all remember the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, where Johnson received a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a less-than-obvious bunker. Ouch. 

    No doubt, Johnson is a heartbreak kid, and I unfortunately foresee him living up to the title on Sunday. Don't feel for him too much though; I think he is finally going to win a major this year. He's one of the best golfers on the Tour. 

1. Lefty Wins It

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    With the way Phil Mickelson is playing, how could you possibly root against him?

    Add in the facts that Mickelson had been playing sloppily for some time before this hot streak, that his sweetheart of a wife just recovered from breast cancer, that he is such a class act, and you see why everyone roots for Lefty.

    He constantly shows up on the course with a smile on his face and a good attitude, and to see him gathering some more victories past his 40th birthday is great. Hopefully, Phil has another major win in his future, because golf won't see another Mickelson for quite some time.

    Few players combine personality, sportsmanship and skill level so wonderfully.