The PGA Tour season technically began back in October, but the first tournament of 2017 begins Thursday in Hawaii, and the field is loaded with some of the world's best players.
2016 saw a frustrated Jordan Spieth fail to add to his major count, Dustin Johnson join golf's elite, and the return of Tiger Woods. What does the 2017 PGA Tour season have in store? Here what Fox Sports golf analysts are expecting to see this year:
Who will be the 2017 Player of the Year?
Shane Bacon:Dustin Johnson. I think a lot of people are going to go with Rory here, but 2017 seems a little too 2015-y to me. Rory coming in off an incredibly hot end to the previous season and everyone is convinced it will carry over. Dustin continues to improve and that's a scary thing at some of these major venues in '17.
Chris Chase:Rory McIlroy. What, you thought I was going to say Russell Knox? Rory has been back in form since before last year's Masters, racking up more top-10 finishes than not. This is the year Rory will break through the quagmire at the top to firmly establish himself as the best of the game.
Nate Scott:Rory McIlroy. I flipped and flopped between McIlroy and Jason Day, but settled on McIlroy due to concerns with Day's ailing back and reports that he'll be shortening his swing this year. McIlroy's coming into the year healthy, playing with new clubs and eager to get back to the world No. 1 spot.
Nick Schwartz:Rory McIlroy. When he's at his best, very few can touch Rory. He'll have to navigate club changes due to Nike's depature, but he has plenty of time to settle in before Augusta.
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Who will be the breakout star of 2017?
Shane Bacon:Wesley Bryan. I said it in my preview piece, but i just don't see a full season ending without a Wesley Bryan win. His short game is so sharp that he doesn't even have to hit the ball perfectly to win on any tour, and he will have plenty of opportunities on the short game wizard-friendly golf courses like Harbour Town and TPC Deere Run.
Chris Chase:Jon Rahm. The 22-year-old Spaniard (by way of Arizona State) was the top amateur in golf and became the ninth golfer to ever win his tour card directly out of college (Tiger, Phil and Jordan Spieth are also on the list). In three events this season he has two top-15s. And, as a bonus, he's a youngster you can watch without hearing about single-length irons, zero-shift swings and side-saddle putting. Looking at you, DeChambeau.
Nate Scott:Rickie Fowler. He's too talented, and at age 28, I think this is the year he puts it all together. I see him with a slew of top ten finishes, along with his first major win. (More on that to come.)
Nick Schwartz:Andrew Johnston. Beef doesn't even have to win in order to be the breakout star of 2017 - but he's talented enough to contend anywhere. He earned his PGA Tour card last year and will be in the U.S. full time, where he's poised to become the next people's champion. Get used to a lot of "BEEEEEEEF" cheers throughout the year.
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Which player will disappoint the most?
Shane Bacon:Bubba Watson. His short game has been so poor since his win at the Northern Trust last year (165th on Tour in strokes gained putting in 2016) that I don't see Bubba winning this season unless something dramatically changes around the greens.
Chris Chase:Jason Day. Back issues have brought down far greater golfers. Or, to be more specific, just one greater golfer
Nate Scott:Jordan Spieth. This isn't an indictment of Spieth, and I think he's going to be in contention at a lot of tournaments. But when you're a golfer like Spieth, who doesn't hit the ball especially far, you have to be perfect everywhere else. The margin is just too thin.
Nick Schwartz:Rickie Fowler. Fowler's magical 2014 — where he posted four top-5s in majors — set unrealistic expectations for the years to come, and his fan-favorite status means he's always under pressure to perform. Fowler's an excellent player, but he's too inconsistent and prone to shooting himself out of contention early in big tournaments.
Who will win each major?
Shane Bacon: Phil Mickelson (Masters), Brooks Koepka (U.S. Open), Dustin Johnson (Open Championship), Rory McIlroy (PGA Championship)
Nate Scott: Rory McIlroy (Masters), Jason Day (U.S. Open), Rory McIlroy (Open Championship), Rickie Fowler (PGA Championship)
Nick Schwartz: Hideki Matsuyama (Masters), Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open), Rory McIlroy (Open Championship), Justin Rose (PGA Championship)
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How many tournaments will Tiger win?
Shane Bacon:Zero. I just don't think Tiger will be able to keep his game sharp enough, and avoid the inevitable hiccups during a four-day event, to compete in today's PGA Tour. He will have some solid finishes and some great runs, but for 72 holes, it'll be really, really difficult him to match the go-low-ness of these 20-somethings.
Chris Chase:One. Look for Tiger to have a dominant performance at one of his old stomping grounds (Bay Hill, maybe) and then have a decent year, with Sunday contention and missed cuts mixed in. As for the Slams: There will be a brief moment on Sunday at The Masters when you think Tiger might be starting his move, but he'll fall back to the pack for a T20 finish. The rest of the domestic majors don't bode well as they're on first-time tracks and the British is always a question mark given weather, wind and pot bunkers.
Nate Scott:Zero. Sorry, all. I just don't see it happening. Tiger will be in contention on some Sundays and will nab some Top 10s, but the rest of the golf world has caught up with him. These young guys are too good.
Nick Schwartz:Three. If you asked me this question a week ago, I would have been stuck somewhere between zero and one. Since then, Woods has announced that he'll begin his season at Torrey Pines, immediately fly around the world and play in Dubai the next week, and close out February at The Honda Classic. He seems healthy (finally), he's taking his schedule seriously, and it's just a matter of time until he erases all those mistakes.
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One bold prediction
Shane Bacon:Jordan Spieth won't win a major. Golf just seemed a lot tougher for Spieth in ’16, both mentally and emotionally. I suspect when September rolls around we will be reminded once again just how tough it is to win major championships.
Chris Chase:Miguel Angel Jimenez will become the oldest man to ever win a PGA Tour event. The ponytailed, yoga-loving, cigar-chomping, 53-year-old Spaniard is on the Champions Tour now, but still maintains a brief PGA schedule. He's never won in America, which would seem to hinder his chances of breaking Sam Snead's 52-year-old record as oldest to win a tour event (he was 52) but that's what makes the whole thing so darn interesting.
Nate Scott:The Zurich Classic randomly turns into the most fun tournament of the year. This year the New Orleans tournament is experimenting with a team format that pairs golfers together for a huge cash prize. I think they capture some of that Ryder Cup energy and this becomes one of the highlights of the tour season.
Nick Schwartz:Tiger Woods won't miss time due to injury this year. Wishful thinking, really.