The 2019 golf season is over, and it is time to think about next year. As always, there will be no shortage of issues that arise during the 2020 season, but here are five things, ranging from the obvious (Tiger) to the obscure (major championship venues) that everyone should keep an eye on when the tour tees off again in January.
There were some interesting developments over the course of the past year, including a bevy of first-time winners that should keep the PGA Tour interesting in the 2020 golf season. Slow play was a huge issue in 2019, and should continue to be one next year.
That said, these five issues should make the 2020 season interesting. A couple of them might even bring some controversy to the sport.
Tiger Woods Dominant in 2020 Golf Season
Tiger Woods has always moved the needle in golf, but in the past few years, it’s been more about his legacy than his future. In 2020, however, we think Woods could cause a new round of Tigermania.
The 44-year-old is coming off his best season since winning the 2008 US Open. He not only won the Masters for his 15th major championship, he won a fall season PGA Tour event at the ZOZO Championship, and led the US Team to a comeback victory in the Presidents Cup.
Woods is healthy again, and last season saw him win enough to give him hope he can once again compete on a high level. He is 12/1 to repeat as Masters Champion, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. MGM sportsbooks have him at 4/1 to win any major.
CBS Broadcast Won’t get any Fresher
The brass at CBS decided that their golf broadcast was stale, and let longtime commentators Gary McCord and Peter Kostis go. As replacements, they hired Davis Love III, Frank Nobilo, and Trevor Immelman.
With his teaching background, Kostis was invaluable for breaking down a player’s swing and showing what they were doing wrong or right. McCord is one of the most colorful personalities in the game.
Love, Nobilo, and Immelman are all knowledgable, but the words “fresh” and “dynamic” don’t spring to mind when describing their personalities. As a result, CBS’ telecasts will continue to sputter during the 2020 golf season.
Phil Mickelson’s Slide Continues
Someone once said that Father Time is undefeated, and Phil Mickelson might be coming to that sad reality. He is 49, and will be eligible to play on the PGA Tour Champions in June.
Last season, Mickelson won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and then didn’t sniff a win the rest of the year. His highest finish since May was a tie for 18th at the Masters. So far in the 2020 season, Mickelson has played in four events and missed the cut in one, and finished 61st, tied for 31st, and tied for 28th. He is 50/1 to win the Masters, and 20/1 to win any major.
Before the HSBC Champions even at the end of October, Mickelson told reporters that his poor play has baffled him.
“I don’t, I don’t really want to go into details. I just haven’t, just haven’t played well” Mickelson said. “Just had a lot of stuff going on, and I just haven’t been really focused and into the mental side.”
Rory McIlroy Breaks Majors Winless Streak
It is hard to believe it has been six years since Rory McIlroy won a major championship. The 2020 golf season should be the year he breaks that streak. It wasn’t like he had a bad year last year. He finished in the top-10 in both the PGA Championship and US Open, as well as 12 other times. He also won the Players Championship, Canadian Open, and Tour Championship.
McIlroy would be an attractive pick to win a major. The odds are out for the Masters, and he is 10/1. He’s won the other three majors, and this could be the year he completes his personal Grand Slam.
Mcllroy also won the 2015 WGC Match Play when it was held at Harding Park in San Francisco in 2015. That’s the site of this year’s PGA Championship, which can only help boost his confidence. MGM sportsbooks have him at 3/2 to win a major this year.
Major Championships will Be Lackluster
Aside from the Masters, which always seems to have drama, the other three major championships could be real duds this year. The US Open is at Winged Foot, which could be one of the hardest courses the players have seen in years. The private course in Mamaroneck, NY, has held five previous US Opens, and the winners finished over par in four of them.
Across the pond, the Open Championship will be held at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, Kent, England, which is considered to be one of the weakest courses in the Open rotation. The course is known for first-time winners, so it could be a place where someone like Tommy Fleetwood can raise the Claret Jug.
Back in the States, the PGA Championship will be held at San Francisco’s Harding Park, which like 2019’s event at Long Island’s Bethpage Black course, is a public facility. It remains to be seen how easy, or hard, the PGA of America will make the course. If, as is likely, the course is set up to be difficult, the PGA could be another boring major championship event.