Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers Make Their Bold Predictions For '15

Friday January 2nd, 2015

Want an expert’s take on what Tiger will do this year, or how Rory will handle the pressure of No? 1. Our 100-coach strong elite panel dusts off the crystal ball to cite the near futures of your favorite players. Follow closely—2015 is shaping up to be the most exciting Tour season ever.  

1. Rory McIlroy will win the Masters to complete the career Grand Slam

Fred Vuich/SI

Prediction rate: 27%

Boldness Factor: 5 (out of 10)

A quarter of our Top 100 Teachers believe Rory will pick up right where he left off in 2014, bagging a third consecutive major at Augusta National.

“It won’t even be close,” adds one instructor. “As long as he leave his legal troubles with his handlers and stays single for a while.”

Note: More than 70% of the Top 100 agreed that Rors will win a major, but not necessarily a green jacket.

2. Tiger Woods will continue to struggle -- mightily

Getty Images

Prediction rate: 48%

Boldness Factor: 5

As a group, the Top 100 overwhelmingly approves of Woods' hiring of fellow T100 Chris Como as swing consultant, but that the work required to get Woods back on track won’t materialize in wins overnight.

“His body might be on the mend, but his head’s messed up,” notes one of our instructors, who asked to remain anonymous. “How many football teams make it to the playoffs with a coaching change every three years?”

3. Tiger Woods will win

Getty Images

Prediction rate: 39%

Boldness Factor: 5 (out of 10)

It probably won’t be a major, according to our esteemed group, but Woods will hoist at least one trophy in 2015. “Anytime someone tugs on Tiger’s cape (see Paul Azinger in 2000, Steve Austin in 2006, Rory Sabbatini in 2007), Tiger ends up kicking the snot out of them,” says Top 100 T.J. Tomasi. “Colin Montgomerie’s post-Ryder Cup quip that ‘Rory has surpassed Tiger at his best’ might be another in a long line of ‘giant-waking’ moments. Come summer, he’ll be back.”

4. Jordan Spieth will be named Player of the Year

Jordan Spieth celebrates after winning the 2014 Australian Open at the Australian Golf Club.
Getty Images

Prediction rate: 30%

Boldness Factor: 7

A trendy pick for sure, in addition to Rory and Rickie Fowler. In fact, a solid 10 percent of the teachers tabbed this young and mighty trio to pocket all four majors between them. Spieth’s dominating performance at the Hero World Challenge in early December may or may not be an omen of things to come. “As Jimmy Walker proved last year,” adds a Top 100 who asked not to be named, “early-season wins don’t always translate to late-season successes.”

5. Phil Mickelson will call it a career in 2015

Phil Mickelson's Short Game Sharp In Solid Opening Round

Prediction rate: 24%

Boldness Factor: 9 (out of 10)

Yep, this one is out there, but when one out of every four top teachers on the planet agree that Phil is fading into the sunset, you have to consider the odds. The case for: Lefty has won just five tournaments out of his last 105. The case against: It’s Phil Mickleson, for Pete’s sake. We’ve seen vacuous runs by Mickelson before, but as one teacher notes, “this one feels different. He’s older, he’s injured, and let’s face it -- he’s rich. What does he have to prove? Plus, from day one, he’s lacked the drive that seems to possess Tiger.”

6. You may have seen the last of Lucas Glover

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Prediction rate: 22%

Boldness Factor: 8 (out of 10)

When Lucas Glover won the Wells Fargo Championship in May 2011, he probably saw it as a big step forward in what was at that time a two-win career. So much for that. Glover is on an 87-event losing streak, despite being regarded by his peers as the ultimate ballstriker. “It’s putting,” notes one Top 100. “Glover has become one of the worst putters in professional golf, losing about 10 strokes a tournament to the field just on the greens. Hardly anyone comes back from a flatstick that sour.”

7. We’ll see at least one first-time winner at a major

ZUMAPRESS.com

Prediction rate: 79%

Boldness Factor: 3

While the Top 100 agreed that new names will make their mark in big events, the jury is out as to which ones will actually become legend. Some popular picks: Sergio Garcia (11%), Patrick Reed (9%), Jason Day (9%) and Lee Westwood (6%). The boldest of the bold selection? Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2015 British Open Champion.

8. The LPGA Tour belongs to Lydia Ko

Getty Images

Prediction rate: 61%

Boldness Factor: 9

Ko is hot right now, but it’s not like she doesn’t have ample competition. The LPGA is chock-full of superstars these days. “It doesn’t matter,” lobbies an anonymous pro. “Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson are fine champions, but Ko is on a different planet. She reminds me of the way Se Ri Pak went about her business back in the late 1990s. Expect a similar reign of dominance.”

9. Keegan Bradley will return to form; Jason Dufner won’t

Turkey, 2003 :: Stewart Shining/SI

Prediction rate: 12%

Boldness Factor: 7

Same coach (Chuck Cook), but different outlooks from the duo forever linked by their epic playoff at the 2011 PGA Championship. “Keegan is simply the player with the better overall talent,” says one teacher. “And he has yet to realize his full potential. I think ‘The Duf’ already has.”

10. Jason Day finally breaks out

Fred Vuich/SI

Prediction rate: 27%

Boldness Factor: 5

It’s hard to believe that Jason Day has notched just one stroke-play victory in seven full seasons on Tour. That, according to our illustrious group, will change in 2015. A mild prediction for sure, considering that the young Australian has all the tools to dominate on Tour, including pound-for-pound one of the most powerful swings on earth. “I say it every year: Jason Day will win a major,” notes a Top 100 teacher who knows Day well. “And I’ll keep saying it until I retire.”

Do you think Phil Mickelson will retire in 2015? Join the debate in the comments section below.

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