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The English are Coming (sort of)

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 January 2011.

If you've read this column long enough, you know that one of my favorite things to do is make predictions. I've been around professional golf since 1969—that's 40-plus years—and during that time, I've worked with hundreds of tour professionals.

After witnessing Tiger Woods' fall from grace last season, I've just about seen it all on the professional level. Making preseason predictions is always a tough thing to do. It's dicey because anything can happen between the ropes, and sometimes I feel like I might be jinxing the guys I pick to win.

With that in mind, I have two sets of "predictions" for the 2011 PGA Tour season. First, I have four players who I think "will" win the major champions. The next set is more of a wish list—guys I "hope" will win and want to be successful.

So I'm predicting a clean sweep by the Europeans in the major championships next year. I don't want this to happen, mind you, but I'm predicting it to happen. The Euros have been catching up with the American players for years. If I were a betting man, I would have to put my money on guys like Lee Westwood, the new World No. 1, Ian Poulter, one of the best clutch putters on tour, and young Rory McIlroy, who everyone thinks will be a force on tour for decades to come.

I'm picking Westwood, who with Tiger's fall is clearly the best golfer on tour at this moment, to win two majors in 2011. I think he'll win at Augusta to take the Masters, and his powerful, steady game also is tailor-made to win the British Open, which this year will be played at Royal St. George's in England.

I think Westwood wins there, too.

Poulter will win the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Maryland by draining several, knee-knocking 10-footers for par down the stretch. And he'll wear a combination of clothes that will make people check the color settings on their TVs.

That leaves McIlroy to win the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

I sure hope I haven't jinxed those three talented Euro players. Wink, wink.

Now, for my wish list.

More than anything, I want to see Angel Cabrera win the Masters again. We've been putting in a lot of hard work on his game, and he should be in perfect form to win his third major in April.

I'd love to see Dustin Johnson win the U.S. Open this year...or even a PGA Championship would be great. He was in great position to win both in 2010, and I'd love to see him redeem himself this year.

As for Tiger, I want to see a few things. I want to see him return to his rightful place as the best, most-feared golfer on the planet. I can tell you for a fact that every player on tour wants Tiger to make a full comeback and make the PGA Tour as exciting as it was when he was on top. A win at the British Open, where Tiger can show off his tactical skills, would be nice, too.

As for the PGA Championship, my wish is to see one of the young Americans such as Rickie Fowler or Hunter Mahan get their first major.

Two local guys are also on my wish list. Bobby Gates from The Woodlands will be a rookie this year, and I look for him to contend a few times and win enough money to keep his card for 2012. Michael Connell, a former Dick Harmon student who lives at Redstone, had a great fall finish to secure his card for 2011. I look for him to break through and win his first PGA Tour event this season.