2018 Open Championship Prediction By John Callahan
Open Championship Prediction
By John Callahan, KUKCOG PGA Golf Program Instructor
Although he has not won a major championship since 2008, not won any tournament since 2015 and is playing this year after a long layoff following Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery, I am picking Tiger Woods to win the 147th Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland July 19-22. My reasoning is fourfold.
First, contrary to conventional wisdom, I think Tiger’s back will hold up. We have all heard the catchphrase, ‘I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV’; well, I am not a doctor, but I play one on the lesson tee. And after some research, to quote a real doctor (Richard Guyer, who did Tiger’s surgery), ‘If you are going to have single-level fusion, the bottom level is the best place for it to occur. Some individuals are born with one less vertebrae, which would be similar to someone who had a single-level fusion.’ The fusion of Tiger’s vertebrae L-5 and S-1 are in an area where there is little or no rotation. In my opinion, this explains why Tiger has not lost clubhead speed since his return. Rotational ability is essential in order to play world-class golf, so, I think that since Tiger can still rotate like he used to, he is about to play, at age 42, like the Tiger Woods of old—or darn close to it.
Second, other great golfers have returned to competition from serious back surgery and played great again. For example, Lee Trevino was hit by lighting in 1975 and had a disc removed in 1976. He went on to win to his sixth major championship, the PGA Championship, in 1984 at age 44, and 29 more times on the Champions Tour.
Third, Tiger’s worst statistical category is driving accuracy, but Carnoustie is, most likely, going to play hard and fast. Therefore, even on the longer holes, Tiger will not have to use his driver.
Forth, Woods is trending better each week during his recent comeback. For example, in his last tournament he finished fourth and tied for the most birdies with tournament winner Francesco Molinari—21 for 72 holes.
I agree with Trevino who, when asked about Tiger said, “My prediction, he’ll come back in a blaze of glory.” I think the timing is right to ramp-up that blaze at Carnoustie.