Good response on the first mailbag of 2014, guys. I want to try and do a lot more of these this year. Let's jump into some of the questions.
Who wins the majors and why? -Bret McElroy
I wrote about this at the beginning of the year, here were my picks:
Masters -- Brandt Snedeker
US Open -- Hunter Mahan
British Open -- Adam Scott
PGA Championship -- Tiger Woods
Snedeker is due for a green jacket like LeBron James is due for some hair plugs. That is, like three years overdue.
Mahan has two top-six finishes in his last five US Opens and he's at that US Open-winning age (see: Rose, Justin). It's now or never for him at the majors.
You could argue Scott should have won the last two British Opens. Or at least could have. Plus he finished T8 at Hoylake the last time the Open was there.
Tiger just can't not win one, you know. You kind of just pull his name out of a hat every year for the random major you think he's going to own. Plus wouldn't it be cool to see him recapture the magic at the site of what was probably his most memorable back nine ever (Valhalla)?
What's up with Rickie Fowler? I thought Harmon was supposed to help him and he has two missed cuts in two tournaments so far. -Daniel Dennis
Do you think Rickie Fowler is in for a lost season while he deals with swing changes or is this a short-term thing? -James Neveau
Well technically because of the wraparound season he made the cut at the first three tournaments of the year and has missed it at the last two (Farmers Insurance Open and Phoenix Open).
I don't think it's because of swing changes though. He and Harmon have been working together since last summer and he finished top 10 at the US Open and Barclays (not exactly two mini-tour events).
Plus Fowler said that he hasn't done anything major.
"It's just basically taking what I have and turning it and cleaning it up and making it the best it can be. No major changes. I've never been a player where I've been very mechanical or anything like that, so I wouldn't say it's any major swing changes, just taking what I have and cleaning it up and making it consistent and more repeatable."
The bigger question is how important is it for American golf Fowler to be great? He's far more widely known than guys like Harris English, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, and Scott Stallings -- young Americans who, to this point, have been more successful than him.
"We need Rickie Fowler to play good."
Does Tiger lead the tour in wins again this year? -Kevin Davis
I'll say no. Not because he's playing badly but because he's playing a lot less. By the time February wraps up Woods will have only played three of the 15 events on the season. I said Keegan Bradley would win the money title so I guess I'll pick him to lead in wins, too. With Harris English as a super-dark horse.
If I set the over/under on somebody yelling "Omaha!" after a Peyton Manning tee shot at Pebble Beach this week at 0.5 shots, what would you take? -Pyle Korter
Well Pyle, given the number of times I heard it during the Phoenix Open (in the 1.4 million range) I would probably take the under. I hope somebody yells "Chancellor!" though.
What is Anthony Kim's status and where does he stand in his return from injury? -Brandon Almeida
One of the crazy stats I've seen this year is that the only golfers under 30 with three or more PGA Tour wins are Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson, Scott Stallings, Rory McIlroy, and Anthony Kim.
There was a pretty sad story about him last year on PGA.com (he's carrying an OU bag because he doesn't have a sponsor!) and the light at the end of the tunnel does not appear to be flickering.
I inquired about him with someone who would know and he told me he's been like a ghost. There he is popping up at a random charity event and he's gone again. It seems like nobody wants to talk about where he's at or what he's doing.
Case in point: he has 17K Twitter followers and hasn't tweeted since 2010.
Pick one player in the OWGR top 20, one from 20-40, and one outside the top 40 who could win the Match Play Championship. -Finnian McKenna
Everybody thinks this tournament is a crapshoot but since 2007 the lowest-ranked golfer to win the tournament was Matt Kuchar in 2013 when he was ranked No. 23 in the world. In five of the last seven years a player ranked No. 11 or better has won.
That being said, here are my names:
Top 20 -- Rory McIlroy (7)
20-40 -- Victor Dubuisson (31)
40+ -- Billy Horschel (41)
McIlroy is on fire right now and I could easily see him getting hot enough to win six straight matches. Dubuisson is the best golfer in the top 35 nobody has ever heard of. And Billy Horschel might be America's Ian Poulter.
Since the ban on anchored putting was announced, have many ditched the style? -Sam Morgan
Not that I know of but Kevin Stadler has been trying out left-handed putters (he's right-handed) so you can see this is not going to go well when the rule goes into effect.