Planet Golf — 20 September 2012 by Bob Sherwin
Predictions? And the GW winner is. . .

In a PGA season in which young stars emerged – Rory McIIroy, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley – and old ones returned,  Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker – it all came down to this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga. The Tour Championship was held and the top 30 qualifiers – by far the most prestigious field in tournament history – went hunting for the $10 million top prize.

Golferswest.com’s three writers, Jim Street, Kirby Arnold and Bob Sherwin, who have been predicting winners for all three Tours all season (see Predictions, above), have sorted out the field in a little more detail.

Here’s how all three pegged the tournament, including filling out the entire field with the Top 10, Middle 10 and Bottom 10.

The predictions, and results:

Jim Street

(Eight of his Top 10 selections finished in the top third of the field)

1. Rory McIlroy – Not that he needs the money, but he’s on a $10 million roll. (Tied for 10th)

2. Phil Mickelson – Lefty’s new putting technique will get him close, but no cigar. (Tied for 15th)

3. Tiger Woods – Another typical finish for the ‘new’ Tiger on the course. (Tied for 8th)

4. Dustin Johnson – Long drives will make his back feel much better. (Tied for 10th)

5. Brandt Snedeker – His consistency will do him well, especially on the greens. (Won)

6. Webb Simpson – Don’t be shocked if he finishes in the top three. (Tied for 5th)

7. Bubba Watson – He’s due for another impressive performance. (Tied for 5th)

8. Justin Rose – A rose is a rose is a rose, but not a winner of the FedEx Cup. (2nd)

8. Jason Dufner – Has practiced on his “I’m really excited” expression during his time off. (Tied for 20th)

10. Luke Donald – Steady will be good, but not good enough to pocket the cool 10 mil. (Tied for 3rd)

Middle 10: Sergio Garcia, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Nick Watney.

Bottom 10: Lee Westwood, Luis Oosthuizen, Robert Garrigus, Bo Van Pelt, Carl Pettersson, John Huh, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore, John Senden, Scott Piercy.

Kirby Arnold

(Four of his Top 10 selections finished in the top third of the field)

1. Rory McIlroy – The only thing that could stop him is that he’s a rookie at East Lake. That won’t stop him. (Tied for 10th)

2. Phil Mickelson – East Lake demands a quality short game, and Mickelson will put on a clinic. If McIlroy stumbles, Phil could win it. (Tied for 15th)

3. Sergio Garcia – He’s had a good year and, with East Lake’s premium on putting, should contend for the title. (Tied for 15th)

4. Tiger Woods – He’ll tease us the first two rounds, but Saturday and Sunday again will show us that Tiger isn’t back. (Tied for 8th)

5. Louis Oosthuizen – He nearly won the Master’s and he’s got the game to win at East Lake. But not this year because, for one reason, he’s never played this course. (Tied for 23rd)

6. Jim Furyk – He won the last time he played East Lake (2010) and, being a guy who plays well on the big stage, should be among the leaders come Sunday. (7th)

7. Luke Donald – This will be another close-but-not-close-enough tournament for Donald. (Tied for 3rd)

8, Adam Scott – He’s finishing the season strong and looks at another top-10 finish. (19th)

9. Lee Westwood – Like Scott, Westwood also is playing good golf to finish the season.(30th)

10. Ernie Els – It’s been a nice comeback season for Els, and a top-10 here would be a nice way to wrap it up. (27th)

Middle 10: Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney.

Bottom 10: Bo Van Pelt, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley, John Senden, Robert Garrigus, Scott Piercy, John Huh, Rickie Fowler, Carl Petersson.

Bob Sherwin

(Four of his Top 10 selections finished in the top third of the field)

1. Louis Oosthuizen – He’s the steadiest shot-maker on a shot-maker’s course. The skinny gap-tooth chap from South Africa surprises. (Tied for 23rd)

2. Jason Dufner – How is does it, I don’t know, but he’s always in contention the big events. (Tied for 20th)

3. Webb Simpson – Golden boy caps off his career year with a run at the title. (Tied for 5th)

4. Tiger Woods – His pattern has changed. He used to lead by the weekend then take off. Now by Saturday, he lets everyone back in. (Tied for 8th)

5. Lee Westwood – Strong in Europe but his winless U.S. season continues. (30th)

6. Bubba Watson – He will lead in distance but his reckless ways will deny him a second Peach State victory. (Tied for 5th)

7. Phil Mickelson – Like Bubba, one errant shot, one poor decision could have Lefty needing a miracle by Sunday. (Tied for 15th)

8. Jim Furyk – He’s like an aged Oosthuizen, which not a cheese but a golfer who’s a little too old to stay with this assembled talent.  (7th)

9. Rory McIlroy – He may lead after one or two rounds but after two straight victories, inevitably he would be due for a one-round struggle. (Tied for 10th)

10. Adam Scott – Among the leaders all four days but not enough birdies to contend at the end. (19th)

Middle 10: Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Carl Petersson, Ryan Moore, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Keegan Bradley, Justin Rose.

Bottom 10: Zach Johnson, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, Bo Van Pelt, Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy, John Huh, Rickie Fowler, John Senden, Robert Garrigus.

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Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 44th year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 10 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for golf magazines. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, the Members Club of Aldarra near Seattle. He won't win the club championship any time soon with his 14 handicap and default-swing slice but he does have a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle, and spends part of his winters in Marco Island, Fla.

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