|Justin Rose, Bo Van Pelt, Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson could all become first-time major winners in 2013. (GettyImages)|
Gambling on golf is by and large an exercise in futility. Not dissimilar from playing ping pong with a blindfold on -- sure, you're going to hit a winner every once in a while, but most often you leave empty-handed and bummed out.
This was noted in an excellent GolfDigest piece on Thursday:
In other sports, outcomes are far more predictable. In thoroughbred racing the favored horse wins about a third of the time. In major league baseball games the favored team wins nearly 60 percent of the time. In men's tennis Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic each win slightly more than 80 percent of their matches.
Golf, by contrast, is a lottery.
But that's sure not going to keep me from trying to win it.
So, in keeping consistent with my 10 bold predictions for the year and picking four guys who have never won a major, I present to you the four big winners (sure to be wrong) for 2013.
Justin Rose -- I said an Englishman would win a major in 2013, and I think Rose is the guy. He almost always plays well at Augusta -- has never missed a cut and three top-11 appearances, including the last two years.
He's also playing the most consistent golf of his career (only two missed cuts last year plus top 10s at the Masters and PGA Championship). One of the big four from England -- Rose, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood -- has to win a major at some point; I think Rose gets the job done this year.
Bo Van Pelt -- Van Pelt had the best season of his career last year and has played well at the U.S. Open. He does everything that you need to do to win a U.S. Open at a short track like Merion -- hits fairways (45th in driving accuracy), pures his shots (15th in ball striking), and is excellent from short distances (first in approaches from 75-100 yards).
He hasn't seriously contended in a major. But when you're dropping top 10s every other week (tied for first in top 10s in 2012), that's going to equate to a big win at some point. I think it will come in 2013.
Adam Scott -- If you would have told Adam Scott on the Saturday night of the British Open last year, "You will win a Claret Jug," he probably wouldn't have expected for it to come at Muirfield in 2013.
Scott will exorcise all his 2012 demons by going low at Muirfield this year, something that he has proven he can do if he wants. In 2002, the last time the Open was at Muirfield, he posted a 68 in round two but missed the cut beacuse of a leaky 77 in the first round. I expect him to rebound nicely this year, and he has been circling a win at a major for a quite a while. 2013 is the year.
Dustin Johnson -- Oak Hill is not known as a bomber's course, but remember Hank Kuehne won the U.S. Amateur there in 1998 and isn't exactly known for his ... um ... precision. Johnson already got off to a hot start by winning the Tournament of Champions, and I expect at least a few more Sunday coronations from him in 2013.
He has been close before -- final group at the 2010 U.S. Open, T2 at the 2011 British Open, and the infamous sand-gate incident of 2010 at the PGA Championship. I'd put him up against any "best player in the world without a major" list but might not be able to do so for much longer.