Crystal ball: 2014-15 PGA Tour predictions

By Rex HoggardOctober 5, 2014, 9:23 pm

The PGA Tour awakens from its long offseason slumber this week with the 2014-15 season’s leadoff event at the Open. Seems like just yesterday Billy Horschel was fist pumping his way to the $10 million jackpot at East Lake ...

Before Thursday’s opening day, we peak into the crystal ball to see what awaits the golf world next season.

A rookie will emerge as an elite player: With a monsoon of respect to Chesson Hadley, the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year, last year’s first-timer class wasn’t exactly a blue-chip group. In fact, only two rookies from last year’s original class finished inside the top 125 on the final FedEx Cup points list.

But this year’s class has all the markings of something special. While the Tour’s small print relegated Brooks Koepka and Victor Dubuisson to last year’s class, the duo combined to play just 26 events last season and will be rookies in everything but name. This year’s class will also include the likes of Carlos Ortiz, Justin Thomas and Andrew Putnam from the Tour, who have all been tabbed as potential stars.

The U.S. will win a team competition, but just barely: Although this is hardly a stretch considering that the last time the U.S. Presidents Cup team lost (1998), Jordan Spieth was in kindergarten. 

Just don’t expect another rout.

Nick Price was solid in his captaining debut in 2013 and gets another chance to crack the code late next year in South Korea with an impressive group of young players.

Patrick Reed becomes a top-5 player: The fiery American earned plenty of street cred for his play at the Ryder Cup, and despite a sometimes-gruff demeanor, he won over more than a few fans and Tour frat brothers with his play and passion in Scotland.

Expect Reed to pick up where he left off.

A player (probably Jimmy Walker) will earn a trip to East Lake before Thanksgiving: Consider that through the fall portion of last season’s schedule, Walker had earned 684 points, primarily through his victory at the Open and sixth-place finish at the CIMB Classic, which was nearly enough to secure his spot in the third playoff stop.

Chances are good that someone goes one better this fall.

A player completes the career Grand Slam: No not Rory McIlroy, although the Northern Irishman seems likely to make things interesting next spring when he arrives at Augusta National a green jacket shy of the career accomplishment.

It’s Phil Mickelson, however, who closes out the career foursome at June’s U.S. Open. Many of the expectations Lefty dealt with in 2014 at Pinehurst will be mitigated by arguably his worst n the Tour. But at 44 years old, the southpaw still has something to prove.

Tiger Woods makes history: Still not sure if the often-injured star is able to reach Jack Nicklaus’ mark of 18 Grand Slam titles, but after a few months on the DL, it seems likely he can notch major No. 15 next season. If 2013, when he won five times, taught us anything it's that when Woods is anywhere close to 100 percent, he can still be a dominant force.

What makes that potential win historic is that he secures major glory for the first time without a swing coach at his side.

An Australian wins the Masters: After Adam Scott broke the Aussie “duck” at Augusta National in 2013, more players from down under have targeted the season’s first major, but the last Aussie standing next April will be Jason Day, who has two top-3 finishes in four starts at the Masters and should finally be healthy enough to fulfill all that potential.

Billy Horschel receives a captain’s pick: After Horschel’s stellar finish to the 2013-14 season, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll need one of Jay Haas’ captain’s picks to play the Presidents Cup, but the excitable American has a history of streaky play.

Even if Horschel doesn’t have his best stuff this season, there is no way Haas doesn’t make him a pick. Consider it a learning moment after the Ryder Cup.

Dustin Johnson returns from hiatus: And tells anyone who will listen that he wasn’t suspended by the PGA Tour for failing a third drug test, which was reported earlier this year by
But Johnson, who has proven himself adept at playing through distractions, quickly changes the conversation with an early win, marking his eighth consecutive season with at least one Tour victory.

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Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

“It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”

The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

“I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

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Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

“This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”

Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos

Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

“It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

“Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

“My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

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Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.

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Like father like son: Bring Your Child to Work Day

By Jay CoffinApril 26, 2018, 7:51 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today is Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day at Golf Channel, where everything is fun and games until your child promptly says something that embarrasses you beyond belief. It’s only happened six times today. So far.

My daughter, 12, is in middle school and feels like she’s too big for this sort of shindig. But my son Brady, 11, was all in. The deal was that he could spend the day with me, I’d take him to McDonald’s for lunch, but he had to write a golf story of some sort for

Here is his unedited work, in all its glory:


My name is Brady Coffin and I play golf. I started at the age of 4 years old. My two favorite golfers are Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. They are really good golfers and every time I watch them they always give me tips.

My dad Jay Coffin is the best editor of Golf Channel and always gave me tips when I first put the golf club in my hand. I had my very first par in Hilton Head when I was 7 years old. I am on the Drive, Chip and Putt commercial and I was in a movie where I played a young Ben Hogan. My favorite golf course is Royal Blue in the Bahamas.

I have won many golf tournaments and I am going to play in another tournament next month. I have made a couple of birdies. I am going to play in the PGA Junior League this summer.

At the Golf Channel I get to meet new people and play many games. One of the amazing people I met was Mr. Damon Hack. He is on the Morning Drive show and was very nice to me. Damon has been playing golf for 25 years and his favorite golfer growing up was Tiger Woods.

He loves working at Golf Channel.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk and write about the sport that I love. It’s a sport that I can play with my boys. It’s a sport that I can watch on television. It’s a sport that teaches great life lessons. I couldn’t ask for a better job,” Damon said to me.

(P.S. I will be better than Jordan Spieth.)