The 2016 PGA Tour season was a bit of a letdown, compared to 2015, anyway. Jordan Spieth dominated leaderboards two years ago; he won two majors (Masters and US Open), had another runner-up finish (PGA), and was fourth at the British. His brilliance brought intrigue back to a sport that was in search of a post-Tiger superstar.
It looked like we were in for more of the same when the 2016 rolled around. Spieth started the year with a ridiculous eight-shot win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, firing a -30 (just the second time a player has done so in a 72-hole PGA event). He then raced out to an early lead at the Masters and had opened up a five-stroke advantage over the field heading into the back-nine on Sunday. Then the unthinkable happened. Spieth crumbled, Tin Cup-style, firing a quadruple-body on no. 12, including putting two balls in the drink.
Danny Willett went on to reap the benefits, capturing his first major. The other three majors also saw first-time winners flexing their delts after 72 holes: Dustin Johnson put his major-frustrations behind him at the US Open, while 40-year-old Swede Henrik Stenson won the British and the under-the-radar Jimmy Walker took the PGA.
Johnson was the money leader when all was said and done ($9.3M), topping a pair of Australians, Jason Day (8.0M) and Adam Scott ($6.4M).
Heading into 2017, Day is the top-ranked golfer in the world, followed closely by Rory McIlroy. Spieth, meanwhile, has dropped all the way to fifth.
The American public – and broadcasters – will be hoping for more from the still young Spieth (23) in 2017. The game is more interesting when the best are playing at their peak. That’s what made the game so great when Tiger was in his prime. We felt like we were seeing the pinnacle of golf week in and week out.
Even if Spieth doesn’t regain his ludicrous 2015 form, however, there may be another angle for NBC and ESPN to glom onto to attract interest, and it’s a familiar face: Tiger Woods.
Yup, Le Tigre is back and better than ever! Well, no, that’s not true. Tiger will never be what he once was. But he is back to playing, and he looks as healthy as he has in years. Just look at his performance at the Hero World Challenge. He showed flashes in his first round, firing a one-over, but then put all the pieces together, pacing the field with a seven-under 65 in round two.
While he faded on Sunday with a four-over 76, finishing the tourney at four under (14 shots back of Hideki Matsuyama), it’s something to build off.
The ratings for the tourney took the expected boost with Tiger not only playing, but in contention.
Will we see the legend return to the winner’s circle in 2017? Will young Jordan resume his spot on golf’s throne? What’s in store for this year’s majors?
Time to set the odds for the 2017 PGA Tour season.
2017 PGA Tour Props
Tiger Woods Props
Odds Tiger wins a tournament: 12/1
Odds Tiger wins a major: 35/1
Odds Tiger has to withdraw from a tournament due to injury: 1/1
Jordan Spieth Props
Odds Spieth wins a major: 6/1
Odds Spieth leads the money list at the end of the year: 5/1
Odds all four majors are won by first-timers: 19/1
There aren’t many names near the top of the World Golf Rankings that don’t have a major on their resume. Hideki Matsuyama (no. 6) and Patrick Reed (no. 8) are tops. I’d almost as soon bet on Sergio Garcia to win the Grand Slam than banking on Day, McIlroy, Johnson, Stenson, Spieth, and Scott getting shutout at majors in 2017.
Odds anyone wins more than one major: 15/1
This happens more than you’d think, even since Tiger fell off. No one has dominated the game the way Eldrick did in his heyday, but three guys have still won multiple majors in one year since 2007: Spieth (2015), McIlroy (2014), and Padraig Harrington (2008).
Photo credit: Erik Charlton – https://www.flickr.com/photos/erikcharlton/16564683772/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39530287. Photo has been cropped.