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Look For Xander Schauffele To Have A Big Year


In continuing with my tradition of calling my good friend Dandy Andy Bankuti, who happens to an amazing bettor when it comes to the PGA Tour, here is his forecast for what to look for in the 2024 season.

Andy touted Scotty Scheffler (TaylorMade) a few years ago in one of my blogs before he had his breakout season. He also projected the return to form of Keegan Bradley (Srixon).

Andy thinks Xander Schauffele (Callaway) will be the Golfer of the Year.

“He’s on the cusp of superstardom,” Andy said.

Schauffele was once my favourite PGA Tour player, but he let me down too much, so I don’t share Andy enthusiasm.

He thinks Chris Kirk (Titleist), who won The Sentry last week, will win even more this year having successfully overcome an alcohol problem. Kirk has gone public with that, so it’s a feel-good story. You never truly know how pressure affects professional athletes. We’ll see how he does this week in the Sony Open.

“Obviously everyone is on Ludvig Aberg (Titleist), so I won’t even mention his name,” Andy says.

Well, Andy, you just did, but as a matter of fact I’ve been on the Aberg train for awhile, now. Love his swing.

Andy is big on Cameron Young (Titleist), who has played in 53 events on the PGA Tour and has yet to win. He had one runnerup finish last year, five top-10s, made 21 of 24 cuts.

“He showed signs last year,” Andy says. “He’s a young guy, an up-and-comer. He had a lot of top-10s compared to the previous year. He’s one of those guys that’s going to make that push. He’s on the bubble ready to go.”

Andy says Scheffler will improve his total game this season after his putting let him down last year.

“I think he’ll be steadier and take chances,” Andy says. “He’s always had it in him. He’ll work on that stuff and it builds up.”

He’s confident Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade) will win a major this year, but it won’t be in the Masters, which he’s yet to win to complete his personal Grand Slam.

“The most pressure is always on the Grand Slam,” he says. “I think he competes (solidly) in every one of the majors. I don’t think he misses a cut in a major and he faced pressure last year with the LIV Golf stuff. I think this year he’s over it. It won’t affect him as much as last year.”

He predicts a bounce-back year for Justin Thomas (Titleist).

“He’s also a sleeper this year,” Andy says. “He has to come out, there’s no other way to go. He’s too much of a hard worker to let a bad year last year (affect him). I think the LIV thing bothered him more than any other player.”

Andy and I are both from Canada, which continues to produce a plethora noteworthy players, such as Corey Conners (Titleist), Adam Hadwin (Callaway) and Nick Taylor (Titleist), who won the Canadian Open last year in a dramatic playoff with a 72-foot eagle.

“I can’t tout them because Canadians are great golfers now,” he says. “Last year I was so smart picking the Canadians. This group will mean a lot this year. Who’s going to be the best of them all? Nick Taylor. Adam Hadwin will have a huge year, too. I don’t think he’s even on the radar. They’re still pumping Corey a lot because he has the most natural talent out there. Is the hardest worker? I don’t know.”

I mentioned another Canadian, Adam Svensson (Callaway), as my sleeper player.

“Is he in sleeper mode still? I don’t think so,” Andy says. “I have always had him on my radar. He hits it long, he’s good, he’s always been there. I think he’s one more year for being the best he can be. I think this year will be a good growing year. The Canadians can all do it.”

I asked him if Tiger Woods (Bridgestone) will play more than 10 tournaments in 2024.

“If he’s healthy he will,” he says. “Is he healthy, I don’t know? I think he’s settled with the fact he’s not going to be like he used to be and I think he’s okay with it. He’s left Nike knowing he’s not going to do much of anything.”

I asked Andy if he thought it was Tiger’s choice or did Nike decide there wasn’t value anymore in him?

“It could be both, but he knows he’s done,” Andy says.

But I’m sure he’ll find other sponsors. He’s Tiger, right, and he and his talented son, Charlie (Bridgestone), could make for an attractive sponsorship package.

Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko is an award-winning writer who has published nine books, three of them bestsellers. He has been involved in sports writing for more than 35 years and has interviewed many superstar athletes. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and enjoys watching golf and playing it.

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