By Fred Altvater
–Will Justin Thomas continue to dominate?
Justin Thomas had a career year in 2017. The 24-year-old won early and often, collecting a total of five wins, including his first major title at the PGA Championship. He finished runner-up to Xander Schauffele at the season-ending Tour Championship, but that was good enough to pocket the $10 million FedEx Cup and the Player of the Year honors, as well.
He appears to be ready to contend for more titles and majors in 2018. He has already won the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in October, as part of the wrap-around season. This makes the third consecutive year Thomas has won on the fall schedule.
-What will Jordan Spieth Do Next?
Jordan Spieth seems to have a flair for the dramatic. He holes bunker shots, makes miraculous saves from the practice range and holes 60-foot putts to win big events. What more can he do?
His fans expect the young Texan to win more major championships, beginning with the Masters in April.
Spieth finished inside the top-10 in 12 of his 23 starts. He added wins at Pebble Beach, the Travelers and The Open Championship, his third major championship before the age of 25. Oh yeah, he added three runners-up, two third-place finishes and a partridge in a pear tree last year.
Plus, over the holidays he became engaged and is making plans to be married. It was a full year for Spieth last season, but we can’t wait to see what he will do next.
-Will Lexi Thompson break South Korea’s Domination of the LPGA Tour?
Lexi Thompson had a very good year in 2017, but it could have been even better. She won twice, but a 4-stroke penalty cost her a major, the ANA Inspiration, plus a missed 18” putt cost her a spot in a playoff with Ariya Jutanugarn at the season-ending CME Globe Championship.
Lexi did win the Vare Trophy and the $1 million Race to the CME Globe in 2017, but the question still remains, “What could have been?”
The South Korean women led by, So Young Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim captured 15 of the 35 LPGA Tour events last season. Between them they also won three of the five LPGA Tour major championships.
Park hit the trifecta as Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year, as well as, topping the money list with $2.33 million in total earnings. Her length and aggressive play make her one of the new stars to watch.
So Young Ryu added another major to her resume’ at the ANA Inspiration and was the No. 1 ranked player for several weeks last season.
I.K. Kim had her best year on tour with three victories, including the Women’s British Open. Will she be able to sustain her strong play in 2018?
-Now that Tiger is back, will he Win and be Competitive?
Tiger Woods recently returned to competitive action at the Hero World Challenge in early December. He impressed his fans and golf pundits alike. His appearance drove television and live streaming numbers through the roof, giving golf a huge shot in the arm.
Questions remain, however, even though Woods appears to be ready to compete at a high level, Will his creaky knees and past surgeries allow him to prepare and play an entire season?
If Tiger, now 42 years old, can somehow manage to capture at least one major next season to rejoin the chase to catch Jack Nicklaus, the interest in golf among all sports fans, not just golfers, will skyrocket.
Buckle up those seat belts kiddies, its going to be a wild ride!
–Can Europe rebound at the Ryder Cup in France?
The Europeans had gotten accustomed to drinking from Samuel Ryder’s Cup, but things went horribly wrong in 2016.
Europe has won six of the past eight Ryder Cups, but their 17-11 loss at Hazeltine may have been a harbinger of future outcomes of the biennial competition.
Team USA, made up of the new young guns, seems to be more eager to win the Cup and the European Team showed its age at Hazeltine.
Europe has their own crop of new young stars set to make the team this year. Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters and Jon Rahm should give a boost to veterans, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, and Henrik Stenson to form a formidable team.
The questions are:
-Can the Europeans Rebound?
-Is this the beginning of a New Era of Dominance for Team USA?
Whatever the outcome, as always, the 2018 Ryder Cup will be must-see TV in 2018.