Punch Shot: Most anticipated event of 2017?

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The Olympics was the most anticipated event in 2016, but what about 2017? Our writers weigh in on the must-see event of the year.

By REX HOGGARD

Maybe it’s just a proximity deal. The Masters is after all the event the players and press and fans spend the most time pining for, and the ’17 edition has all the markings of something particularly special.

There will be almost as many story lines as there are magnolias as players make their way to the year’s first major. How will Jordan Spieth respond to his Sunday meltdown last year? Will Rory McIlroy secure the final piece of his career Grand Slam puzzle? How many shots will Tiger Woods be favored to win by (regardless of his play before Augusta National, there will be some misguided betting house who will make him the favorite).

The best part about the Masters, it’s the only tournament in golf that almost never disappoints.


By RYAN LAVNER

2016 was the first year in forever that the Masters wasn’t the most-anticipated event in golf. The Olympics and Ryder Cup played a role in that.

Neither is on the schedule for 2017, which means that Augusta once again takes top billing. We’re still three months away, and already there are enough storylines to fill the headline rail on this website: How will Jordan respond to last year’s meltdown? Can Rory finally compete the grand slam? Will DJ’s improved wedge game lead to a green jacket? Do Tiger or Phil have another magical week left in them? How will the Masters remember Arnie? And the results in the spring will only crank up the hype machine.

Bring on April 6. 


By WILL GRAY

Anytime the USGA gets its hands on an untouched venue, it’s time to pay attention.

It was two years ago that the Chambers Bay setup became the biggest storyline of U.S. Open week – that is, until Dustin Johnson’s 72nd-hole three-putt. Even last year at Oakmont, the powers-that-be interjected themselves into the proceedings with a ruling that nearly ruined Johnson’s breakthrough victory.

Now all eyes will turn to Erin Hills, a young course built upon a sprawling Wisconsin landscape. Will the USGA push the yardage toward 8,000 yards? Will officials hand out another controversial ruling? Will course conditions become as big of a focal point as they were outside Seattle in 2015? Heck, will the grass at least be green this time around?

A new course means untold variables for the season’s second major. Add in Johnson defending his title, Jordan Spieth returning to a course where he played the 2011 U.S. Amateur at age 18 and Phil Mickelson again attempting to round out the career Grand Slam, and it makes for a can’t-miss tournament.


By RANDALL MELL

It depends where Tiger Woods makes his 2017 debut.

He’ll turn a regular tour stop into a major happening when he makes his first official tour start since late summer of 2015. It could be the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Jan. 26-29, or perhaps overseas, at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Jan. 19-22.

And whatever start follows his debut will be the next most anticipated event of ’17.