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Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Early Predictions for the 2011 Majors

Sorry for the delay on this post. I had this ready to go last night, but some computer problems kept me from posting it.

I've decided to go out on a limb this year. While it's a very preliminary list, here are my early selections for this year's majors:
  • The Masters: Ernie Els. To be honest, I like Ernie in all four majors this year. If his confidence is back to where it was the first half of 2010, and if he putts the way he did last month, he could be a real handful for everybody.
  • US Open: Luke Donald. Our national championship returns to Congressional Country Club this year, where Els won his 2nd major in 1997. I assume they'll use the Blue Course, as that's been their choice in the past. The US Open, with its emphasis on accuracy, is the perfect place for Luke to break through, and I think this is a great track for him, since it's only around 7200 yards.
  • Open Championship: Jim Furyk. Royal St. George's is a classic track that doesn't favor any single type of player, and it's also only 7200 yards. I really can't give you a reason for liking Furyk on this course; perhaps it's just that the pressure of an Open seems to get to the Euros, in much the same way our national Open means so much to our players that they tend to tense up.
  • PGA Championship: Lee Westwood. The Atlanta Athletic Club is a par-70 course nearly 7500 yards long. I think it's a great match for Westwood -- both the course and the general setup of the tournament suit his style of play.
Obviously these aren't the only players who will have good chances this year. It's hard to bet against either G-Mac or Kaymer grabbing a second major. Rory McIlroy was only one poorly-played round from his first Open at St. Andrews last July, and Dustin Johnson could have had two majors if things had gone a bit better for him. Ricky Fowler certainly proved he could handle the pressure of a major during his singles match at the Ryder Cup, even though he hasn't won a tournament yet. And I would never count Tiger or Phil out; even at their worst, they're capable of putting four great rounds together when you least expect it.

I may change these choices as the year progresses and I get a better idea how each is playing, but these are the players I think are ready to step it up this year.

3 comments:

  1. oh no no no - not so fast my friend. You made your picks - there's none of this "I'll change later in the year" stuff !

    I'm going to take Poulter at The Masters, Dustin Johnson at the US Open, Rory McIlroy at the British, and Tiger at the PGA.

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  2. There's always a good reason to hedge and fudge on picks, Court! Bear in mind that I've already hedged a bit by saying I like Ernie for all four but picking four different winners. I'm not stupid. ;-)

    BTW, I seriously considered Poulter for the Masters -- I like the way he's been improving the last couple of years -- but Ernie's experience really gives him an edge there. (Assuming he's playing well going in, that is.)

    Are you sure you don't want to flip your Dustin and Tiger picks? Dustin's length seems better suited to AAC, while Tiger's accuracy would play better on the shorter Congressional course. (I can't believe I'm starting to think of Tiger as accurate... but his showing at Chevron -- with such a new swing concept -- was pretty impressive. ;-)

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  3. I'm a huge Els fan, but he hasn't been anywhere close to being in contention at The Masters since 2004, and he's missed the last three cuts.

    Nope - I'm thinking that Woods' game won't be really solid for at least half the season. He has more than enough length for the Athletic Club - and the course has a lot of similarities to Firestone.

    Congressional isn't going to be crazy with rough, so his length and strength will serve him well there, too. Ernie was in his peak years of length when he won there in 1997.

    Tiger was accurate a few years ago at the Memorial after the knee surgery, then he went back to his slashing ways. He CAN do it, but he just doesn't choose to play under control often enough.

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