Tiger Woods has not won a major championship since 2008 so it would be appropriate if he won next year’s US Masters on the 10th anniversary of his last major win. The former world number one had won 14 majors by the age of 32 and at the time seemed certain to overhaul Jack Nicklaus’s tally of 18 of the events that matter most. Woods has been slashed from 80/1 to 20/1 to win the first major of 2018 after being competitive in the Hero World Challenge.
Woods had not played competitively for over 10 months but hit the ball remarkably well. He was ring rusty around the greens but showed enough in his long game to suggest his major championship winning days are not behind him. Nicklaus won the masters at the age of 46 and other players have won at the highest level in their fifth decade. Tom Watson was one missed putt away from winning the 2009 Open at the age of 59 so Woods is a boy in comparison. He can have one last hurrah or the start of several towards the end of his career by winning the US Masters in 2018.
Rickie Fowler blasted his way through the field in the final round of the Hero World Challenge. His score of 61 included seven birdies in a row and the round helped him win the tournament by four shots. Fowler has achieved a great deal in a relatively short career but he has not won a major. He has seven top-5 results in majors and in his finishing positions were T5-T2-T2-T3 in the four biggest weeks of the year. Fowler is capable of winning majors and 2018 could be his breakthrough year. The US Open is a good fit so Fowler is tipped to win his national championship.
He showed in 2014 that no particular course or major is suited to his game. Fowler has won four official titles on the PGA Tour but has finished second 12 times and third on seven occasions. He is former winner of the Tour Championship which is known as the fifth major due to the quality of the field. Any player that can complete nine holes in 28 strokes as he did in the fourth round of the Hero World Challenge has a game of the highest order. Fowler can rid himself of the title of one of the best players to never win a major at the 2018 US Open.
The Justin Rose story for many began at the Open Championship at Birkdale in 1998. He was tied fourth as a 17-year-old amateur and famously chipped in on his 72nd hole. Rose won the US Open in 2013 and has come agonisingly close in the Masters but the British Open is probably the title he craves most. He has a good all-round game with few weaknesses and his swing is suited to links golf. Rose’s career can come full circle at Carnoustie in 2018 when he can win the Open and second major.
Jordan Spieth has won three of the majors and only requires the USPGA Championship to complete the set. Only five players have achieved the career Grand Slam and Rory McIlroy requires the US Masters to join that elite group. Phil Mickelson has won three of the four but never the US Open but his winning opportunities look behind him. McIlroy will be coming back from an extended break so winning the Masters could be beyond him. That means Spieth will be the next player to win all four majors if he is the USPGA champion in 2018.