9 bold golf predictions for 2024: Tiger flashes, Bryson’s back, Masters surprise

tiger woods patrick cantlay

Tiger Woods and Patrick Cantlay lead two of our 9 bold predictions for 2024.

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Finally, the first week of 2024.

The first day back in the office. The first PGA Tour event waiting on deck, promising a full weekend of primetime golf viewing from sunny Hawaii. We’ve made it. The first real pro golf “offseason” is over, which means we’re now looking forward with a list of predictions for what might — nay, will! — happen this year. But these aren’t just any predictions. They’re the bold kind: not just who will a major, but who will win each major, and which decisions will set the stage for a brave new golf world with billions of dollars in investment arriving. That’s what you’re here for, and we’re here to serve you. 

What follows are, firstly, my nine bold predictions from 12 months ago (along with an accuracy grade). And then, nine freshies for the next 12 months. 

1. Four made cuts from Tiger Woods (C+ — T-Dub was 2 for 2 on made cuts before he needed another ankle surgery.)

2. Justin Thomas, Masters Champion (F — JT missed the cut at the easiest major to make the cut at. He was not happy about it.)

3. Rory McIlroy wins PGA Championship (B- — Rory’s 71-69-69-69 had him hovering a few shots back but ultimately never really in contention.)

4. Your favorite event will be the U.S. Open (B+ — This was the only men’s major that actually came down to the 72nd hole.)

5. A LIV Golfer will win a major (A+ — Brooks Koepka bails me out.) 

6. Ireland gets another major-winner (D — Leona Maguire’s T11 at the Women’s PGA wasn’t exactly close enough to warrant a better grade.) 

7. America wins a tight Solheim Cup (C+ — They probably should have? But ultimately the Euros prevailed by retaining the Cup, 14-14.)

8. Europe wins a tight Ryder Cup (A — the Euros were underdogs all year, right until the matches kicked off in Rome. Then they played like junkyard dogs.)

9. LIV regret (D — I figured some players would hold regret on ever joining LIV Golf. That probably exists for someone like Hudson Swafford, who really has nowhere to play right now. But the June 6th deal-to-make-a-deal between the PGA Tour and the Saudi PIF has likely softened any regret anyone had for joining LIV.)

And now, if you haven’t lost all faith in me, here are my bold predictions for 2024…

1. PGA Tour-Saudi PIF deal makes us all yearn for 2025

It’s not particularly exciting to begin a 2024 predictions post with an immediate look to 2025, but that’s what the initial takeaway will be when the two sides ultimately strike a deal. Golf things are just easier when they work on a calendar that begins in January, and the PGA Tour-PIF pact will be no different. Jon Rahm will be allowed to defend his AmEx title in January 2025 as the first LIV golfer to return to play in PGA Tour events. Until then, we’ll be treating 2024 as a bit of a gap year. It’ll make golf fans a bit antsy as a result, especially without a Ryder Cup in the fall. How much patience do we have? 

2. Patrick Cantlay, Masters champion

At one point in recent memory, Cantlay was beloved by a sizable group of PGA Tour fans, christened “Patty Ice” when he out-putted Bryson DeChambeau at the 2021 BMW Championship. That feels like decades ago in Tour Politics Years, now that Cantlay has become a bit of a lightning rod for pace-of-play, pay-for-play and Tour governance issues. In 2024, he’ll earn plenty of fans back with a stone-cold, four-shot victory at Augusta National. Why? Well, he’s slowly crept toward contention at the Masters, and was quietly just five shots off the lead entering the final round in 2023. Also, this’ll be his first Masters with Joe LaCava on the bag. That can only help at ANGC, where LaCava has looped for multiple green-jacket winners. 

Patrick Cantlay was at the center of several major golf stories in 2023.
Patrick Cantlay speaks: On PGA Tour control, LIV offers, Ryder Cup controversy
By: Dylan Dethier

3. Sweden breaks through

Just not via the golfer you’re thinking of. Ludvig Aberg seems destined to win major championships, but 2024 is Linn Grant’s year. She has methodically risen up the ranks, much like her fellow Scandinavian, Viktor Hovland. The only level of golf she hasn’t dominated yet is the majors. But it all clicks for Grant at Lancaster Country Club, site of the U.S. Women’s Open in June. She joins Henrik Stenson, Annika Sorenstam, Anna Nordqvist as the modern Swedes to topple a major. 

4. The Return of B.A.D.

There’s been something brewing in Bryson DeChambeau’s world. I’m not exactly sure what, but something. Sure, the 30-year-old might seem more committed to growing his YouTube following than winning golf tournaments, but he quietly rose back into elite form in 2023, maintaining an all-world driving ability and above average ball-striking. DataGolf ranks him 25th in the world right now, based on a really good second half of the year. His weakness, at the moment, is his putting. But during four warm spring days in Louisville, DeChambeau is going to bomb his way around Valhalla and summit the mountaintop once again.

5. Xander Schauffele wins at baked-out Pinehurst

There may be a trend of “about time” taking place in these predictions. And there may be no other player in the world (other than Rory McIlroy) whose major victory would get fans to collectively exhale with those two words: about time. Schauffele wins at the hardened Pinehurst No. 2 because of his impeccable short game and no three-putts. He grinds out four-straight 69s, good enough for four under and his first major. 

6. Your favorite event will be the Women’s Open

Forget all those major championship winners discussed above. The major we’ll care about the most will come in August: the Women’s Open at the Old Course. In a year where the men’s major championship courses leave a bit to be desired on the excitement scale, thank goodness for the women taking on St. Andrews. One thing we might learn: In its current form, the Old Course might be a better tournament site for the women than for the men. And given the Open will take place the same week as the men’s BMW Championship, it’s the perfect starter to a full day of golf-couch lounging.

7. Tiger flashes at Troon

Given Tiger Woods’ place on the PGA Tour Policy Board and his overall lack of form during his November/December events, I’d guess it takes him a few months to reach his peak playing level in 2024. He’ll have the Genesis Invitational in February to continue knocking rust off his game, but might just be on a majors-only schedule again this year. Once his off-course work subsides and his on-course stamina ramps up again, we’ll see him start to carve out a couple of rounds in the 60s. He’s seemed to get the worse of the weather draw at majors in recent years, so he’s due to get a little lucky on the rainy west coast of Scotland to make the weekend at Royal Troon. Then a sublime 68 pushes him to T8 entering the final day, four shots back. Just close enough to freak everyone out. 

8. Lord Collin Neville 

It’s possible that no single human has been entrusted more by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy than Collin Neville, the player advisor handpicked to help lead player efforts in the negotiations for future investment in the PGA Tour. Those negotiations have been extended, but will likely (hopefully) wrap before the major championship season, at which point there will be a much clearer future for the pro game. Where will Neville go? Nowhere. If he was strictly an all-sports guy, or even a soccer-focused businessman — he helped Raine Capital oversee sales of Chelsea FC and Manchester United — perhaps he would move on to different pastures after his golf-advising is done. But Neville was one of the founding directors of the Premier Golf League, a now-defunct entity that kickstarted the chaos that envelops the pro game. He has wanted to see a different pro golf future for at least a decade now. When that future actually arrives, I can see him landing a much bigger role than we (and even he) ever imagined as a result. It’s good to have Tiger on your side.

9. Team Great Britain sweeps the Olympics

Tommy Fleetwood, often the bridesmaid, rarely the bride, finds himself most comfortable at the 2024 Olympics. He had a helluva time in the Olympic Village in Tokyo and will bring great vibes to Paris in August, on a course at which he has plenty of other great vibes: Le Golf National, where he was last seen riding the shoulders of rabid Euro fans at the 2018 Ryder Cup. Once Fleetwood takes the gold, an inspired Georgia Hall rallies to do the same from within the tight-knit Great Britain squad. 

BONUS! The Presidents Cup in Montreal goes down to the wire, but the Americans maintain their dominance. Apologies to our friends from the north.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your own bold predictions for 2024 with the author at sean.zak@golf.com.

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.

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