McIlroy's Coronation or Woods' Domination? 10 Predictions for the 2013 PGA Tour

Thomas WalterContributor IIJanuary 4, 2013

McIlroy's Coronation or Woods' Domination? 10 Predictions for the 2013 PGA Tour

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    Although the 2013 PGA Tour season gets underway in Hawaii later this afternoon, seven of the world's best players opted not to play this week in Maui. 

    Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els all decided that they did not want to make the trip to Hawaii.  

    While, without these players, the tournament is not nearly as exciting, it is the start of a new season.  With new seasons, come predictions.  So here are my 10 predictions for the 2013 PGA Tour Season.

Rory McIlroy Will Win the Masters, 4 Other Golf Tournaments

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    McIlroy has not had the easiest, or most relaxing, offseason.  He has had to deny rumors of engagement, equipment changes, lawsuits and he has been questioned about his 2016 Olympic intentions.

    Out of those four, the most threatening to McIlroy's career has to be the equipment change.  It is expected that he has left Titleist and signed a contract with Nike for $250 million.

    It is sometimes common for players who go through equipment changes to have some difficulty adjusting to their new sponsors.  But, Rory is so talented that I highly doubt it will have any significant impact on his beautiful golf game.

    In fact, I believe Rory is in for another great season in 2013.  I expect him to come out on top at Augusta and don his first Green Jacket.

    Moreover, I expect him to be contending at all four majors this year instead of just the one he contended in last year. The more times he puts himself in position, the greater the chance he will have at winning more of the majors.

    Finally, I also expect him to win four other tournaments throughout the calendar year and make a very strong case for a second consecutive Player of the Year Award.

Tiger Woods Will Finally Win Another Major Championship

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    Tiger returned to the winner's circle three times in 2012.  His wins came at the three places he loves most besides Augusta National: Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer's tournament), Muirfield Village (Jack Nicklaus' tournament) and Congressional (Tiger's tournament).

    In the 2012 majors, Tiger finished T40, T21, T3, T11.  To me, that shows progress.  Remember that being in contention in majors is something that one needs to work their game up to.  Those results show that Tiger was getting stronger in majors throughout the year.

    As for 2013, Tiger's best chances for a major breakthrough are at Merion for the U.S. Open, and Muirfield for the British Open.  While he is always a threat to win the Masters in April, I think he will have to wait one more year before he claims his fifth Green Jacket.

    Merion will set up well for him because it is a shot-makers course, and it will not be playing long, which means he will be able to keep his driver in the bag.

    Muirfield is somewhere he has played well before.  After winning both the Masters and U.S. Open in 2002, Woods headed to Muirfield with Grand Slam dreams before the Open weather got the best of him in round three and knocked him out of contention.

    I expect big things from Tiger this year as he will place an emphatic yes on all the questions asking whether he is back to his form prior to his scandal.

Tiger and Rory Will Battle on the Back Nine of 1 Major This Year

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    There has been a lot hoopla surrounding a rivalry between Woods and McIlroy, but until they go down to the wire in a major, there really is no rivalry.

    Yes, Tiger fired a 62 at the Honda Classic as he was trying to chase down Rory, However, the best golf rivalries are born on the back nine of major championships, not weekly PGA Tour events. Nelson-Hogan, Hogan-Snead, Palmer-Nicklaus and Nicklaus-Watson all battled down the stretches of majors.

    I do believe that 2013 will be the first time we get a Tiger-Rory showdown.  Before Rory ran away with his second major of his career at Kiawah Island, Tiger had a chance to play in the last group with Rory, but ultimately fell out of contention in the third round.

    I believe Tiger will be able to be in contention in the majors in 2013.  I also expect Rory to be there.  Here's to hoping they both are in contention this coming April at the rolling hills of Augusta National.

Tiger Will Win at Either Bay Hill, Muirfield Village, Firestone or Congressional

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    It does not take rocket science to figure out that Tiger Woods will win at either Bay Hill, Muirfield Village, Firestone or Congressional this coming season.  Out of his 74 PGA Tour Victories, 21 of them have come at those four courses.

    Tiger dominates these four tournaments, and I believe he will win at two of these locations in 2013.  He may add one more to his total, which could possibly put him at four wins for the year.  

    However, I do not think that will be good enough for him to win Player of the Year in 2013.

Phil Mickelson Will Win 1-2 Times but No Majors

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    It is sad to say, but I think we are starting to move into the twilight of Phil's career.  This season he will win once or twice, probably early in the year, and then begin his annual fall-off towards the later half of the season.

    I believe "Lefty" will be able to contend in a few of the majors, at Augusta and Merion, but will not have any major success this year.

    Maybe it's because I have grown to become a Phil fan, but despite all the negative that has happen to him, I still believe he has a couple more majors in him—his U.S. Open at Pinehurst next summer, finally, and then one more Masters title.

    However, 2013, will not be a great year for "Lefty."

Rickie Fowler Will Win Again on the PGA Tour

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    After finally breaking through and winning his first tournament last year at the Wells Fargo Championship, is Fowler ready for bigger and better things this season?

    Once Fowler won in Charlotte, he seemed as if he was going to finish the season strong.  But, he ultimately failed to make the Ryder Cup team and finished 2012 poorly.

    It does not truly matter how many golf tournaments Rickie wins because he has already built up legions of fans for his flashy clothing and his "high-risk, high-reward" type of play.  

    However, it would be great see Fowler continue to get better and be able to contend week in and week out becoming the next American golf superstar. I think he will be able to do that capturing at least one win, the second of his career, this season.

Justin Rose Will Win a Major

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    Although this predication might seem on the bold side, I believe Rose is due for major triumph.

    Justin constantly puts himself in good position during the majors, but he has never quite been able to capitalize.  After a fantastic Ryder Cup performance, a 3-1 record, I believe Rose will have gained the confidence to have a brilliant season this year.

    At No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, I believe that Rose could be a big factor in the year's first three majors because of how great of a ball-striker he is and how he has finally elevated his game to one of the best in the world.

Dustin Johnson Will Win 2-3, Suffer More Major Heartache

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    I feel for the guy, I really do.  He has suffered some serious heartbreak in major championship.

    But, I just do not believe Dustin Johnson has what it takes to win a major championship.  And while some may argue 2013 will be different for "DJ," I think it will be very, very similar to his past season on tour.

    Johnson is such a freak athlete that he will win a couple times on tour every year as long as he plays. Yet, when it comes to the big championships, he always seems to have trouble finishing the job.  

    Three times now he has put himself in contention, only to choke his chances away. Once at the 2010 US Open, again at the 2010 PGA Championship and, most recently, at the 2011 British Open.

    You have to wonder how many times someone can lose a major before the emotional scars start to build up.

    While I believe Dustin will get a win early this year, I also believe he will suffer heartbreak at Augusta, giving him a monumental collapse at all four major championships.

Noh Seung-Yul Will Be the Breakout Player of 2013

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    If you have not heard the name Noh Seung-yul, you will in the coming months.  The owner of a beautiful golf swing and a great short game, Noh burst onto the PGA Tour's scene last summer and played consistently throughout the rest of the year, including a T21 at the PGA Championship.

    I expect Noh to win at least once this year and be in contention multiple times. I believe he will secure himself a spot inside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking by year's end, as well as a spot on Nick Price's Presidents Cup squad.

The United States Will Win the Presidents Cup

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    This is simply the easiest prediction I have made so far.  The United States will win the Presidents Cup because, let's face it, the United States has dominated this international competition.

    In the nine times the Presidents Cup has been played, the United States is 7-1-1.

    It does not help that this time the Cup is being played on American soil, that Michael Jordan will most likely be returning to the team as an assistant captain and that Tiger Woods absolutely owns Muirfield Village, the host club for this year's matches.

    So, good luck to the International Squad. They're going to need it.