• Out of Bounds

Predictions for 2012 - how did they fare?

ESPN staff
November 28, 2012
Jose Maria Olazabal captained Europe in a remarkable Ryder Cup © PA Photos

With the 2012 golf season (to all intents and purposes) coming to an end in suitably fitting fashion last weekend - well done, Rory McIlroy, on yet another impressive win - we thought it would be a good idea to look back on events of the last 12 months, comparing how things panned out with a few predictions we made to start the year.

So, having listed 12 predictions for the season way back in January, let's take a look at whether the reality was even remotely similar to the theory:

Prediction 1: Tiger Woods won't win The Masters

What we said: "Woods should be pretty prepared for Augusta by the time it rolls around in April, but not that much more than he was for the same event last year. He'll almost certainly be in contention - but we reckon he won't finish the job."

The reality: Well, Tiger did not win the tournament - and never looked close to doing so, actually. The American made the cut at three-over but left him too much to do over the weekend, eventually finishing in a tie for 40th in an out-of-sorts display.

Prediction 2: A new name will claim the Green Jacket

What we said: "Charl Schwartzel was a first-time winner at the Masters in 2011, and we can see a similar figure coming through this time around. Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, or even an emerging name like Gary Woodland - all could end up adding a key ensemble piece to their wardrobe by the end of the first week in April."

The reality: Well, a new name did win the tournament - with Bubba Watson coming through in a play-off against Louis Oosthuizen. The left-hander won the event in memorable style, fashioning a barely-believable wedge from deep in the trees at the 10th to down the dogged South African.

Bubba Watson was in remarkable form at The Masters © Getty Images

Prediction 3: Americans will win more majors than Europeans

What we said: "It really comes down to a matter of probabilities. With three of the four majors on American soil, American players always have an advantage. This year, they should make the most of it."

The reality: US players claimed two majors in 2012 (Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson), with Rory McIlroy making it one for Europe at the US PGA. Ernie Els kept the Rest of the World in on the action with that dramatic success at the Open Championship.

Prediction 4: Luke Donald will remain world No. 1, but a major will elude him

What we said: "Donald is the very model of a modern world-class golfer, consistently good wherever he plays on the planet. That quality will ensure he remains world No. 1 throughout 2012 (unless Rory McIlroy goes on a run of major wins) but that won't help him when it comes to the major championships."

The reality: Well, McIlroy did go on a run of wins - including a major - as he quickly overtook Donald at the top of the world standings. And the Englishman did fail at the majors himself - finishing fifth at the Open Championship but missing the cut at the US Open and floundering outside the top 30 at the Masters and US PGA.

Prediction 5: The BMW PGA Championship will become a true flagship event

What we said: "With real financial backing behind the event once again, if we can get a repeat of last year's finish - with Lee Westwood and Luke Donald duking it out in a playoff - then it really could become another viable contender to be 'the fifth major'."

The reality: Hard to evaluate this one, although it was another good event - won again by Luke Donald, holding off Justin Rose and Paul Lawrie. The Wentworth tournament is certainly building momentum, but the lessening of BBC television coverage from next year is a blow at just the wrong time.

Prediction 6: A new collection of Asian players will make their names known

What we said: "Seung-yul Noh (a rookie on the PGA Tour), Kyung-tae Kim and even Bang Sae-moon could all make an impression on the wider golfing conscious this year. They're coming, and they're good."

The reality: This one did not quite materialise - although all three players named are currently inside the world's top 100. Bae was beaten in a play-off at the Transitions Championship in March, while Noh had three top-ten finishes on the PGA Tour. Next year might see a breakthrough, then.

Prediction 7: We will hear a lot less about the ruddy 'Chubby Slam'

What we said: "Because, God willing, none of his clients will win The Masters - allowing us almost a full year without ridiculous columns about whether or not an agent's clients will win the grand slam."

The reality: None of Chubby Chandler's clients won The Masters! Rejoice!

Prediction 8: Slow play will get worse, but will become a debate

What we said: "Every time tournament rounds take over five hours, discussion will be raised. With TV negotiations ever more important, a solution that enables the tours to guarantee shorter coverage windows to the networks is going to become increasingly attractive. 2012 will see the discussion; hopefully 2013 will see the action."

The reality: Progress, but slow progress. Luke Donald stirred the debate back to life early in year, before Ross Fisher became the first player in nearly two decades to be docked a shot for slow play at the Irish Open in June. At the Open penalties for offenders were promised, but none were forthcoming. Still more work to be done, then.

Ian Poulter rescued Europe at the Ryder Cup © Getty Images

Prediction 9: Jose Maria Olazabal is going to have a wildcard dilemma

What we said: "That will put Olazabal in a quandary, forced to expend a wildcard pick on a big-name player who is not in great form (as exemplified by his inability to quality outright), rather than an in-form addition (as is the idea of the system). Graeme McDowell is an early candidate for this position."

The reality: A runner-up finish at the US Open did the hard yards for McDowell in terms of qualifying for the team, ensuring Olazabal had a fairly straightforward selection. Ian Poulter did not qualify but was always guaranteed a pick, while Nicolas Colsaerts was the form guy getting his chance.

Prediction 10: Europe will win one of the best Ryder Cups ever

What we said: "Playing on American soil has not always helped the European cause - but on this occasion they should have just enough to sneak a dramatic, exciting victory."

The reality: Although we perhaps undermined this prediction somewhat by tipping a narrow American triumph in our full Ryder Cup preview, Europe did indeed win a Cup for the ages - coming from 10-6 to win matters at the death on the final day.

Prediction 11: Rory McIlroy will ditch Caroline Wozniacki

What we said: "With the travel, the differing schedules and the fact McIlroy seems to be desperately waiting for official clearance to become an international playboy … we reckon this is one sporting power couple that won't last the distance."

The reality: We can confirm the pair - 'Wozilroy?' 'McIniacki'? - are still together, with (erroneous) reports of an engagement even coming out over the weekend. So we were wrong on this one, it seems.

Prediction 12: Tom Lewis will not win on the European Tour

What we said: "We're not prepared to give up on this 'beef' just yet. Lewis got lucky last year … it will not happen again."

The reality: A long-running feud of Out of Bounds', Lewis did little this year - not winning even once, and barely making the weekend at most tournaments. Only the exemption awarded him as a result of his surprise Portugal Masters win in 2011 means he is still going to be playing week-in, week-out on tour next year as well.

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