9 bold predictions for 2023: Rory gets No. 5, Tiger surprises and LIV wins a major
It’s that time of year, folks. Where all you see across the golf Internet are lists, lists and more lists. Lists about the best moments from 2022. Lists about our viral stars of the golf year. Lists about the rules disputes that drove everyone crazy. Even lists about Tiger Woods that run 47 items long just for his 47th birthday.
All those lists have one thing in common: they look backward. We are here today with a list that looks forward. A list that gets ultra-specific as we look to the new year ahead. Here are nine predictions for 2023, and one bonus prediction at the bottom that will give everyone reason for optimism.
1. Four made cuts for Tiger Woods
Let’s start with the most famous golfer on the planet. Woods will play five tournaments in 2023, starting with his Genesis Invitational in February. Each of those courses will be set up in a way that rewards pars. Shooting 68 is fantastic. You know who grinds out pars better than anyone in the world? That 47-year-old, Tiger Woods. If you need proof, go watch what he did during his first two rounds at Augusta National in April. And then his second round at Southern Hills in May. Woods will two-putt his way to a made cut at Royal Liverpool, will chip his pants off once again at the Masters and will prove he’s still one of the smartest golfers on the planet at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. Four cuts made, maybe five. Anything on top of that is, as Tiger says, just gravy.
2. Justin Thomas, Masters champion
No one has followed the script quite like Thomas when it comes to earning a green jacket. This will be his eighth time competing at Augusta National. He’s never missed a cut. Each year, it seems, he’s improved.
Thomas was in the group when Spieth set the course on fire during the final round in 2018. He plays practice rounds with Tiger and Fred Couples every single year. He’s received so much advice from Woods that he’s made Jon Rahm jealous. And he ended a mini major drought in 2022. He’s due to make some magic at the Masters, and gets it done this spring.
3. Rory (wins ugly) in Rochester
Are you not entertained by that?!? You might not be too entertained when Day 2 of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill is dominated by springtime showers. But so it goes. This championship chose upstate New York back when it was hosting an August major. The wet course will turn into a bomber’s delight and one of the best drivers in the world gets off his major championship schnide by pummeling tee balls all over the property. It’ll feel a little weird crowing McIlroy at yet another rain-soaked course, but no one ever said it had to be pretty.
4. Your favorite event will be the U.S. Open.
Golf on the telly when you’re at work. Golf on the telly when you’re sitting down for dinner. Even golf on the telly when you’re winding down the evening. Golf in beautiful Beverly Hills. A whole lot warmer than the previous major, at the PGA Championship in upstate New York. On one of the best courses in the country, Los Angeles Country Club, which received a facelift by Gil Hanse, the course architect of the moment. It’ll be our third major of the men’s season and we’ll put aside the LIV-PGA Tour debate for seven grinding days. Until…
5. A LIV major champion
LIV Golf may be dominated by relative has-beens, but it does boast two of the best players on the planet in Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith. It does have Brooks Koepka, Mr. Major, and a handful of others capable of pulling off a perfect week. Could Bryson DeChambeau rise again? It’s not out of the realm of possibility at all. Whether it happens at the U.S. Open or the British Open, one thing is for certain: Greg Norman will treat this victory as if it were his own.
6. Ireland gets another major winner
No, not Shane Lowry. Not Seamus Power, either. The next major champ coming from the Emerald Isle is Leona Maguire.
Her ascent has been well documented. Maguire didn’t splash on the scene as a teen like Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko or Nelly Korda. She played college golf for four years and fine-tuned her craft, now rising to match all those former teenage sensations in the last year, ranking 11th in the world at the end of 2022. Walton Heath, the host of the AIG Women’s Open, is an inland course, but should be baked out at the end of summer in the south of England. It seems like exactly the kind of course Maguire can pick apart for her breakthrough victory.
7. America wins a razor-thin Solheim Cup
This year’s Solheim Cup is will take place one week prior to the Ryder Cup. It’s team golf season! And it should be that way every year these two events take place. (Maybe even host them in the same location?) Anyway, that’s unfortunately not going to happen as the Solheim Cup has decided to move back onto an opposite year schedule with the RC. But you’re not here for that info. You’re here for the bold take that the Americans win in Spain. That might not qualify as bold for everyone, but the Americans haven’t fared well in this event, losing four of the last six times. Team USA is deeper than they’ve been in recent years, and is once again led by some of the best players on the planet. Jennifer Kupcho is crowned Queen of the Match when she goes 4-0-1.
8. Europe wins a razor-thin Ryder Cup
You know what has almost no bearing on the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome? The result of the 2022 Presidents Cup in steamy North Carolina. Romantics will obsess over the last two team titles for the Americans, but Europe has rebuilt itself. There’s an Us vs. them vs. Them quality to the non-LIV Europeans like McIlroy, Rahm and Viktor Hovland grabbing the torch from the approaching-retirement vets of the past. And in much different fashion than the 2021 Cup at Whistling Straits, the Euros finally have a legitimate home crowd again. Collin Morikawa, Cam Young, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Will Zalatoris, Max Homa — what do they all have in common? They’ve never played a Ryder Cup on the road. Rahm breaks their hearts in a Cup-clinching singles win against Jordan Spieth, 3 and 1.
9. LIV regret
LIV golfers banded together in 2022. They spoke in unison, at times from talking points provided to them by LIV’s communications staff. But not everyone is getting DJ’s $150 million. Not everyone is getting pulled along like Pat Perez on the 4 Aces. Some contracts are for just two years, and when they’re done, what comes next?
There will be some level of discontent lower down the LIV ranks in 2023. It might not come until the LIV season ends in the fall, but not everything can be sunshine and rainbows while lawsuits play out and governing bodies make stern decisions with their major championships. The OWGR gave us a sign that it might make LIV wait until November for its events to be ranking-eligible. That won’t sit well with anyone, let alone a LIV golfer who might not have a place on that tour forever. If LIV is anything like other team sports, not everyone can be happy. Talor Gooch was dropped from the 4 Aces in favor of Peter Uihlein. Maybe it starts there.
BONUS: Tiger and Charlie win the PNC
Our new fifth major actually earns that status in 2023 when Tiger Woods and his son Charlie actually win the PNC Championship. Tiger will joke that it’s his first Champions Tour victory. Charlie will joke that he pulled his dad along all day. We’ll all go to bed with smiles on our faces, thinking about what 2024 will have in store.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your own bold predictions for 2023 with the author at email@example.com.