PGA Tour Season Preview – 2019

PGA Tour Season Preview

Welcome back to my seldom-read, always incorrect preview of the PGA Tour Season! It’s an honor to welcome our third reader to the annual post. Last year, I correctly predicted that I’d be incorrect on all fronts, so I’ll take credit for that. I predicted Rahm at the Masters (somewhat close, 4th), Thomas Pieters at the U.S. Open (didn’t even play), Rickie Fowler at The Open (T28) and Tony Finau at the PGA Championship (T42). I also thought the Ryder Cup would be extremely close (Europe won in a blowout), that Stephan Jaeger would be the next big name and that Jordan Spieth would be ranked #1 in the world at the end of the year (currently #17).

Still reading? I’m not sure why, but since you are I might as well give you a little preview of what’s to come this year. There are some big changes coming to golf and the PGA Tour in 2019. Here’s a snippet:

The Schedule

The PGA Tour smartly decided not to compete with the behemoth that is the NFL on Sundays, so the Tour Championship will now be played in August. We will therefore have the PLAYERS, The Masters and the PGA Championship all in the spring.  The Open will be the final major of the year and be played in July. While I like the schedule overall (we have 5 straight months packed with huge tournaments) it’s going to bring some interesting weather into play for the PGA Championship. Northern courses (this year’s PGA is at Bethpage Black in New York) are going to have wicked winds, fogs, squalls, blizzards, hurricanes and monsoons to contend with. Who knows, it could be fun (until we have a Thursday finish).

The Rules

We will continue updating you on rule changes in this blog, and we’ll see how they impact the Tour as we go along. There have already been some laughs about dropping from knee height, for example. I don’t see much of an impact on actual play with the exception of Dechambeau being annoying about making his caddie put the pin back in on a 3-footer. Here’s a tip for this year: if the pin is already out, don’t request your playing partner to put it back because you think you have an advantage. Don’t be that golfer please. None of us need that. Please don’t do it. Seriously. Even if it’s downhill. Not joking. OK, mayyybbbeee if you’re above the hole on 17. Actually, that’s pretty good strategy. If you’re the last person to putt you can request to put the pin back in on a down-hiller on 17. Other than that, it’s not allowed. Got it?

New Playoff Format

If we’re being honest, the FedEx Cup Playoffs weren’t that exciting in past years. Everybody had 1,000+ points and it took a graphing calculator and a thorough understanding of theoretical physics to discern who had a shot to win. There were two leaderboards, one for the actual tournament and one for FedEx Cup points, and all anyone cared about was Tiger winning at East Lake (remember when Justin Rose triumphantly won the FedEx Cup? Me either).

The Tour has simplified things to some degree by eliminating points completely from the Tour Championship. There will only be one leaderboard (what a concept!). The twist is that the points leader will start at 10-under par, while the last place players will start at even (see handy picture below). Personally, I love it. It still gives the leader a huge advantage while if someone from the bottom tier goes nuts they actually have a shot to win (wasn’t so before).

Predictions

Onto what all three of you have been waiting for…predictions! You can win a hefty sum if you’re gutsy enough to parlay the four major winners in Vegas, and if you’re really audacious you’ll try these four! (hint: it’s not a smart bet).

The PLAYERS

March 14-17 – TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Defending Champ: Webb Simpson

2019 Winner: Justin Rose

The Masters

April 11-14 – Augusta National, Augusta, GA

Defending Champ: Patrick Reed

2019 Winner: Jason Day

PGA Championship

May 16-19 – Bethpage State Park Black Course, Bethpage, NY

Defending Champ: Brooks Koepka

2019 Winner: Rory McIlroy

U.S. Open

June 13-16 – Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, CA

Defending Champ: Brooks Koepka

2019 Winner: Xander Schauffele

The Open Championship

July 18-21 – Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, Northern Ireland

Defending Champ: Francesco Molinari

2019 Winner: Tommy Fleetwood

FedEx Cup

August 22-25 – East Lake Golf Club – Atlanta, GA

Defending Champ: Justin Rose

2019 Winner: Xander Schauffele

Think I’m going to win $2 million?!?! Me either. The bottom line is golf has more talent now than ever, and there are 30+ players capable of winning any given week. With Tiger back and young golfers with more and more ability (130mph Cam Champ? Sheesh) professional golf is in a great spot. Thank you, loyal reader, and enjoy the Tour season. It’ll be nothing if not interesting. Happy golfing!