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Six golfing highlights for 2017

2016 was good to us golf fans.

Four maiden major winners, a successful Olympic return at Rio 2016, and an impressive Team USA performance in reclaiming the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine all provided entertainment in spades.

With that in mind, 2017 has it all to do in attempting to reach similar lofty heights in golfing pleasure. Our expectations have been heightened and we are an increasingly demanding audience.

A challenge, no doubt, but we believe in you 2017!

So then, in terms of the ‘Big Ones’, what have we got to look forward to next year?

The Masters – Augusta National (April 6-9)

The one they all want, but none more so than Rory McIlroy. A green jacket has eluded the Northern Irishman in his short career so far, and he will arrive in Georgia determined to complete the final leg of his career grand slam.

The winner on April 9 will be presented with their jacket by 2016 winner Danny Willett after his three shot victory shocked many golf fans around the world. This, of all the majors, is a tournament where stars can be born.

Don’t rule out another first time winner this year.

Here are some of the highlights from Willett's final round:

US Open – Erin Hills, Wisconsin (June15-18)

Dustin Johnson took a first step towards realising his undoubted potential by securing the US Open title at Oakmont Country Club in 2016. If ever there was a multiple major winner in waiting, it’s DJ.

With the tournament now switching to the beautiful Erin Hills in Wisconsin for its maiden PGA Tour event, many in the field will be itching to follow in his footsteps.

The 146th Open Championship – Royal Birkdale (July 20-23)

Returning to Royal Birkdale for the 10th time, The Open Championship is arguably the biggest event on the golfing calendar. The ‘best of the best’ are never truly satisfied until they have a ‘Claret Jug’ sitting proudly amongst their hoard of competitive booty.

The last time this course played host to the Championship was in 2008 when Irishman Padraig Harrington headed the field to pick up the second of his three major championships.

An unrelenting foe, Royal Birkdale will ensure a thoroughly deserving champion prevails this year. Another tussle à la Stenson and Mickelson would be just perfect.

USPGA Championship – Quail Hollow, North Carolina (Aug 10-13)

A regular stop on the PGA Tour, Quail Hollow takes a step into the big time with its maiden major appearance at the 2017 USPGA Championship.

The tournament has reclaimed its rightful place in the Tour calendar, after being rescheduled last year due to the Olympic return at Rio 2016, and will take place three weeks before Labor Day in the US.

Walker Cup - Los Angeles Country Club, California (Sept 9-10)

The biannual amateur event which pits the USA against the best of the Great British and Irish golfers will be taking place in California for only the second time in its history.

Great Britian and Ireland are the current holders of the trophy after a resounding 7 point win at Royal Lytham & St Annes GC in Lancashire in 2015.

Can the Americans reclaim the Walker Cup on home soil?

New ‘Rolex Series’ on the European Tour

The old ‘Final Series’ has been replaced for 2017 with a new lucrative ‘Rolex Series’.

There is a major drive by the European Tour to encourage stronger fields in order to compete with the PGA Tour and this revamp is seen as a great way to do just that.

The seven-tournament format starts with the BMW Championship in May and includes the Irish, Scottish and Italian Opens.

The final three events on Tour - the Turkish Airlines Open, the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship – will at least provide a familiar conclusion to the Series.

With these six excellent prospects (and many more besides) ahead of us, there is plenty to satisfy even the most demanding of golf fans in 2017.