It's the weekend before Christmas, and you guys have questions. Lots of them, apparently. I put out a call on Twitter on Thursday and got a boatload of hilarious and fun queries leading into the final holiday of 2018. Let's get right to work.
@CanHidekiWin: What do you predict will be the average driving distance on tour this year?
Here's a fun stat: Since 2006, while the average driving distance has increased by 6 yards on the PGA Tour, the leader's average has actually decreased. Bubba Watson averaged 319.6 yards off the tee in 2006, and Trey Mullinax averaged 318 even last season. Regardless, Cam Champ alone will raise the average from 295.3 last season to at least 100 yards past that in 2019. The average will be 395.3, and Brandel Chamblee and Geoff Shackelford will spontaneously combust on air in a Golf Channel segment late in the calendar year.
@The_Fried_Egg: One player who has been on a milk carton in 2018 that will be a headliner in 2019?
How much Jordan Spieth stock is financially advisable for one human to own? I have far exceeded whatever that answer is. I'm not sure Spieth was on a milk carton in 2018 considering he flirted with the lead on the back nine at two majors, but the grading curves are different for historically great players. Spieth was still great from tee to green, ranking No. 23 on the PGA Tour. I'm not deterred by down putting years at all. Remind me of this when he four-putts the 10th at Riviera in six weeks and I'm tweeting siren emojis for the rest of the weekend.
@LemmondMatt: Does @PhilMickelson reach 45 wins on PGA Tour?
If you're wondering, it's the right number to wonder at. I've contended for years that Mickelson has one final "Wait, is this really happening?" magic wand to wield at Augusta, but I'm pretty dubious about him winning multiple times over the course of the rest of his career considering he's only won once since 2013. I'll say no, which means he'll definitely win twice at Pebble Beach alone in 2019.
@Carr4thecourse: Who will have a better major season in 2019: Jason Day or Tiger Woods?
One of the underrated golf storylines -- and maybe storylines in all of sports -- for 2019 is what a major championship move to May will mean for Jason Day's allergies situation. Despite that, I'm fading the Big Cat in 2019 in most scenarios, including this particular one. He's an abnormal human being, I realize, but I think the ascent to winning once more is far easier than maintaining that level week in and week out with the Brooks Koepkas and Justin Thomases of the world. Remind me of this when he wins three times before Augusta.
@micahwp: Which two will have the most combined wins this season? DJ/Koepka, Speith/Thomas or Tiger/Rory?
Spieth and J.T., for sure. Anything is in play in 2019 for that duo. A January sweep. Five wins before the Masters. Double-digit wins overall. I think one of the unfortunate, unintended consequences of the silly best buds narrative between Spieth and J.T. is that it undercuts the reality that we could be dealing with, I don't know, two of the 25 best golfers ever. Two of the 40 best? Obviously they both have a long way to go to even be considered for that conversation, but the trajectory and pedigree of both overwhelmingly points to a historical career arc.
@MuirFalls: What was more thrilling -- Jordan's putt on 16 at the Old Course or Jordan's putt on 16 at Augusta 2018?
Man, Brendan Porath and I were texting the other day about Spieth's putt on No. 16 at Augusta this year and what an adrenaline shot it was. Spieth has already had some moments on that green in his career. Between the putt that whispered "62" this year to the near ace in 2016 following his collapse to the moment in 2015 when he seemed like he knew the deed was done after he sank a 10-footer on that hole, the 16th has never been short on Spieth drama.
@Wesleywhammond: At end of 2019, who will be ranked higher in OWGR ... Tiger or Spieth?
Spieth's ranking doubled will still be lower than Tiger's.
@Russell_In_ATL: Kyle -- you've got the No. 1 pick in the "Will Definitely Win a Major in 2019" draft ... but you have to choose a player yet to win one. Who ya got?
This is a fabulous question.. Not most accomplished, rather the 10 best. Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau topped the list, but it's a loaded 10. I think if my life was on the line with this question, I'd probably go with Rahm; although, I think the course rotation in 2019 would favor somebody like Tommy Fleetwood or Rickie Fowler. It's so easy to see Fleetwood winning one of the Opens that it sometimes feels like it's already happened. I'll say Fleetwood for 2019 but Rahm if I have to pick somebody for the rest of their career.
@NickJuskewycz: More majors when their careers are over: Rory, Spieth or Koepka? DJ or Day? JT or Rahm? Rickie or Hideki? Bryson or Finau?
Spieth, D.J., J.T., Bryson.
@WiggleThree: How soon do you think Matt Wolff will break Nicklaus' major record?
It doesn't appear that he'll be leaving Oklahoma State this semester, so probably not until 2026 or so. If your purchase order for Wolff stock comes back "denied access, inventory unavailable," please do not @ me on Twitter.
@JWilliams263: Instead of trying to change the ball, would further limiting the number of clubs pros can carry do anything for scoring average?
When we talk about the problems with distance, what we're talking about is driving the ball, right? Nobody says, "You know what, I am sick of how far Rory McIlroy is hitting his 5-iron." Or maybe somebody does, but it's not a real conversation anyone is having in terms of change that needs to take place.
The two best ideas I heard from friends and colleagues in 2018 -- and I'm not here to argue one against the other, only to present them -- were either taking tees out of the pro game or taking drivers out of the pro game. Obviously taking tees away would be much easier (I'm not sure how many tee manufacturers are going to take that on), but forcing players to only his clubs of a certain size (like 3-woods) would probably better get at the ethos of what the issues are.
I'd be fine with either one because I think both would only serve to make the game more interesting. Instead of just bombing their brains out, players would be forced to choose over and over again what the most effective, wise shot is in any given situation and then execute at the highest level. It wouldn't materially change anything in terms of advantages (swing speed is swing speed is swing speed), but I think it would be maybe the shortest distance between the place where pro golf is and the place where it needs to be in 2019 and beyond.