Eight questions we have about golf in 2016 include Tiger Woods' return
Golf is sort of tiring right now. The year that won't end is kind of, sort of, almost ending. There are a few more PGA Tour events, the Race to Dubai and Tiger Woods' event in December, and that's pretty much it.
What that means is that the 2016 year will be starting very, very soon. I'm already looking ahead to what's going to unfold. I have a few questions, too, about the tournaments, the players and the equipment. Let's jump right in.
1. Can Rory McIlroy fix his broken putting stroke? This might be the biggest question I have for 2016 because it seems like it affects the most things. If he fixes it, lights out, kids. Daddy is home. If not, he'll still win tournaments, but he won't be elite.
2. Will golf's governing bodies explore a neutralization of distance? You can do a lot of things. Pull back the clubs. Pull back the ball. Move to new courses. When Bubba Watson and Jason Day are purposefully banging their drives off tents because they don't care about hitting fairways, that's an issue. Will golf do anything about it?
3. Can Rickie Fowler make "the leap"? I don't think Fowler is capable of joining the triumvirate of McIlroy, Day and Jordan Spieth. If anyone is going to do it, however, it's going to be Fowler.
4. Who is this year's Justin Thomas? Thomas became a borderline star in 2015, concluding with his win at the CIMB Classic. Smart money here is on Patrick Rodgers.
5. Can Thomas (or someone like him) shake up the Ryder Cup team? Tony Finau and Billy Horschel are also potential candidates here to mix it up with the old guard and lead an American charge at Hazeltine that is much needed.
6. Who gets their first major? In the last two years, only Jordan Spieth and Jason Day have been first-time major winners (and those two hardly play the part). Will 2016 produce a more 2013-like slate of winners? That year, Justin Rose, Jason Dufner and Adam Scott took home titles. Recent history says no, but it would be pretty cool if guys like Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker or Bill Haas could get No. 1.
7. When does Tiger Woods return (if at all)? This is a big one whether you want it to be or not. Woods still moves the needle. Woods will always move the needle. Think about it, Jack Nicklaus still moves the needle and he hasn't played in a major in nearly two decades. Tiger will take his time getting back to competitive tournament play which is a good thing. I'm simply curious about when he'll return.
8. What does Phil Mickelson have left in the tank? Lefty switched coaches late in 2015 as he prepares for one last gasp at a major or two over the next few years. That sun is fading pretty hard, though, and Mickelson hasn't won since the 2013 British Open. It would be both sad and fitting if that was his last tournament win.
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