If 2022 has the same drama, excitement and confused chaos as 2021, I’m going to need to book an AirBnB in the mountains of Tibet to decompress. OOOOOOHHHHMMMMMM.
The 12 months that was 2021 was the wildest of golf cart rides.
But before I save my Tibetan trip SuperHost search preferences and do all my research, I’d like to start off with just a wish. Then we’ll size up what this year could bring.
My wish for 2022 is that all the golfers we love — and/or hate, for some people — are safe and healthy in the new year. I would love to have a year when only what happens on the golf course makes news and headlines. It’s probably like getting back-to-back calls from Augusta National and Pine Valley while Michael Jordan is in the driveway wanting you to come play Grove XXIII. But, hey, it’s my wish. It could happen [shrug].
Let’s start with the majors!
Time for the “we never saw that coming” at the Players. Don’t act like it hasn’t happened before — I’ll spare you the full history lesson. HV3’s best finish at this major was a T-7 in 2018. That said, the course that doesn’t suit any one style of golf is the perfect course for him to earn his first PGA Tour win. (And, yes, it’s a major. I know this might offend some, but it’s 2022 and it’s time to move on. It. Is. A. Major.)
We all know the fast-paced, unpredictable time we’re living in, so it would make sense that it took 18 years between when the world No. 1 won the Masters (Tiger Woods ’02, Dustin Johnson ’20) and just two years the next time. We ain’t got time to sit around waiting … and yeah, I guess this means I’m also predicting Jon Rahm being No. 1 in the world when that magical week in April starts.
Another guy tired of close calls and no wins on U.S. soil will change all that May 22 at Southern Hills in Oklahoma. Here’s the good thing about finishing second the year before at a major (other than the Masters) … when you get to the next one, you don’t think, “I remember last year on this hole,” because there was no last year at this course. Oosty is at the perfect place of experience and talent where he can use this win for a run at the FedEx Cup.
I have no idea why it’s so easy to overlook Xander, but it happens a lot. Just think, since 2017 he’s never finished outside sixth in our national championship. (Hold on a sec, I can’t see the “wait-what” look on your face from here.) For me, the reason Xander is so good at an event like this is his attitude. He never gets too up or too down, and now coming off the Ryder Cup experience, the pressure of being atop the leaderboard at this major won’t seem as daunting.
Speaking of Ryder Cup … how ’bout this one as the “Now y’all can shut up about me not winning” statement for Mr. Scheffler. Of course, knowing how golf media operates, it’ll go: “Yeah, but you haven’t won in America, though.” Look, a major win at the oldest championship in our sport on its 150th anniversary should send all those Ryder Cup haters pouting to their basements. And this won’t be his only win of the season? Ooooh… better keep reading, then.
Next up, the playoffs and FedEx Cup
FedEx St. Jude Championship: Scottie Scheffler
What’s great about only having three playoff events is that the first one starts a full month after the final major of the season. That means Scheffler will have emptied all the alcohol — hopefully scotch — from the Claret Jug, recovered from the hangover and be thirsty to try to win the FedEx Cup. Scottie has a 14th- and 15th-place finish at that course the past two years so getting there as a major champion can only increase “moxie” he’ll already be feeling.
The only thing standing between Ohio and Delaware is Pennsylvania. (Come for the gold, stay for the geography lesson.) So who better to win the second playoff event going into the fall football season than the guy who grew up just outside Cleveland? Jason has been making a slow-but-very-steady rise up the OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings), and this win will make him a captain’s pick for the Presidents Cup.
Before this season, only Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have won the FedEx Cup twice. Add J.T. to that list and know that he will let Mr. Woods know how much more his title was worth at a dinner. Because that’s what you do with your close friends. If you love someone, needle them mercilessly. Justin was disappointed in his 2021 campaign and won’t be happy that ’22 was another year without a major, but… three wins including the Tour Championship is a good flex.
What about some social media drama?!
Here’s the hard part about this kind of stuff: If the two guys are friends and like each other well, then it’s not real drama and while we giggle because it’s funny, we’re not locked in and talking about it on TV shows.
Still the back-and-forths between Max Homa (@MaxHoma23) and Joel Dahmen (@Joel_Dahmen) are always great, and I expect it to be next-level in 2022.
Will the Brooks/Bryson drama continue?
If Koepka keeps giving gifts and set-up like below to Bryson, how could it stop?!?
While The Match shoulda been called “The Dud,” these two not liking each other is good for golf and needs to continue thru ’22. The hard part is keeping it inside the ropes. Everyone now knows their feelings towards each other isn’t an act, but the tour also knows some boundaries must be set — hopefully broken occasionally by the players — so the fans don’t again feel like this is an interactive game.
Last, but never least: When and where will Tiger Woods’ first competitive comeback ?
St. Andrews and the 150th playing of the Open Championship. If we played a game of “Press Conference Interpretations,” Tiger gave us a small hint. He told everyone in the Bahamas how much that event means to him and how much he loves that course. It’s a flat golf course that wouldn’t be the challenging walk that Augusta National and The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, present. “There are no days off,” is what he told us in Orlando at the PNC event, which means he’s working every day on stamina. Matt Kuchar says his game is tour-ready now and he has seven months to get his leg ready for that much walking. Are you betting against Tiger? I’m not.
4:31 PM ET Ernie Els has a unique perspective on the proposed Premier Golf League that hopes to lure the top players in the game…
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