golf

Golfers To Watch Out For In 2017

December 21, 2016

- Grant Whittington

2016 was another memorable year in the golfing world. Four different major winners, a United States triumph in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008 and a spectacular collapse by Jordan Spieth halfway through the final round at Augusta allowed Danny Willett to become the first British player to win the Masters for 20 years.  The sport’s long awaited return to the Olympics was steeped in controversy, but it dramatic finish ensured the sport will be free from exile when the iconic five rings move to Tokyo in four years time.

What will the next twelve months have in store? Can Rory McIlroy cope with the pressure as he looks to complete a career grand slam? Are there signs that Tiger Woods is beginning to rediscover shades of the old magic following his flawless round of 65 at the Hero World Challenge? Many familiar faces will once again be dominating the greens, but as always there is a new breed of golfing sensations intent on ripping up the script ahead of the forthcoming season.

We assess the chances of those under the radar likely to make an impact and pick out the usual suspects likely to be leading the way in 2017.

Jason Day

Has only recently returned following a three-month layoff, but the world’s top ranked player will be focused on making up for last time following a year in which he took his tally of PGA Tour victories to ten. During this period, fellow countryman Adam Scott labelled Day’s form as ‘Tiger-esque’, but just how quickly will the Australian be able to eradicate the competitive rust?

Rory McIlroy

The Irishman admitted the weight of expectation affected him as he went in search of the missing piece of the grand slam puzzle at the Masters.

In a disappointing campaign, the four-time major winner only showed flashes of his world-class ability with the highlight being the two implausible shots he pulled off to seal victory in his homeland.

McIlroy’s sole target will be to claim the coveted Green Jacket as he bids to become just the sixth golfer in history to have emerged victorious at all golf’s major championships.

Henrik Stenson

His record-breaking performance at the Open and a second Race to Dubai victory in four seasons made the Swede the standout player of 2016. The only question is whether the world number four can carry the momentum from a season that he hailed as the best of his career.

Andrew Johnston

Affectionately known as ‘Beef’, Johnston picked up his first win on the European Tour at the Spanish Open in April and then secured top ten finishes at both the BMW PGA Championship and The Open, proving he has the mettle to compete at the big events.

The crowd-pleasing 27-year-old will aim to utilise the adoration he has acquired through his self-depreciating personality and big-hitting following a year of hard graft and diligence which has earning him a PGA Tour card for 2017.

Wesley Bryan

Bryan’s rapid ascent from YouTube trick shot extraordinaire to winning promotion onto the PGA Tour in the summer saw him become just the 11th player to make the leap following three decisive event wins on the Web.com Tour. Since competing against the giants of golf, he has made three cuts from four starts with his best finish seeing him tie for eighth at the John Deere Classic. The American has proved to be a rapid learner and will be intent on enhancing his all-round game throughout 2017 as he aims to conjure up a first success on the big tour.

Grayson Murray

Glory in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship saw Murray claim the final event of the reduced Web.com Tour season in which he made six top 10 finishes – more than other player on the Tour. The 23-year-old from North Carolina is a childhood prodigy having won three straight Callaway Junior Championships and establishing himself as the top player in his age group during a prolific youth career. Can he embed his undoubted talent into the PGA Tour?

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