Look out for Major Mickelson

Garcia in line for the big one, too

Bob Warters's picture
Wed, 1 Jan 2003

Mickelson’s Masters?.

This year could be a significant one for two players yet to achieve their goal of a major title.

While, in my view, the time is not yet right for either Padraig Harrington or Colin Montgomerie, I believe Sergio Garcia is ready to take a major step forward and Phil Mickelson has waited long enough.

For Garcia, the US PGA at Oak Hill New York in August will set him on the road to a handful of major championships, while left-hander Mickelson will decide the green jacket fits snuggly across his broad shoulders.

For Tiger Woods, Royal St Georges on England’s south coast could provide a poignant rebuttle to those who think he hasn’t mastered the skills of links golf. It was here that Greg Norman won in such style in ten years ago and I expect Woods to do the same.

That leaves the US Open wide open at Olympia Fields in Illinois. Irishman Harrington could again figure strongly, as could Woods but I expect Ernie Els or the poker-faced David Toms to sneak it.

Harrington will have to settle for one of the World Championship events – the Accenture world matchplay could be a likely title – together with the Volvo Order of Merit.

As for Monty, envigorated by his Ryder Cup performance and with new clubs and balls from Hogan, he could make a strong showing in the Players Championship – recognised as the fifth major – at Sawgrass on the eve of the US Masters.

In Europe, expect strong showings from Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Nick Dougherty and first tournament wins for Henrik Nystrom, Greg Owen and Bradley Dredge.

On the US Tour, Luke Donald’s class can see him consolidate his position for a crack at the 2004 Ryder Cup team, though our young British qualifier, John E Morgan from Clevedon, might find the going too tough. German Alex Cejka could win one of the smaller events, however.

Among those I expect good progress from the Challenge Tour are Lee James and Peter Lawrie and from the Qualifying School Andrew Marshall and the veteran Paul Broadhurst.

In women’s golf, Annika Sorenstam will continue to dominate and lead Europe to regaining the Solheim Cup.

For club golfers, it’s a year when we could see a long hot summer, fewer people travelling abroad because of security fears and more and more of us queueing on the tee.

More clubs will be slashing their membership fees to attract regular golfers and cool fabric shirts and shorts could become very fashionable.

Expect golf to become even more high profile with a celebrity tournament, featuring footballers, actors and pop-stars, returning to terestrial television, possibly with golfers aged under 12 as their partners.

Have a great year.



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