We’re now three weeks into 2016 and people are already getting excited about the golfing year ahead. The Ryder Cup, Olympics, the rise and rise of Spieth and McIlroy, and a great young talent pool coming through.
Whichever way you look at it, we’re expecting 2016 to be a very exciting year. Here at Hole19, these are our 10 predictions for the golfing year ahead:
1 - Another big year for Jordan Spieth
He was 2015’s main success story. Not since Tiger Woods has a young golfer made such an impact. While it will be difficult to hit the heights of last year, we are sure there’s another year to come of Spieth being a regular contender on championship Sundays.
2 - Tiger on Tour
Despite his well publicized downward golfing spiral, we can’t see the competitor in Tiger going further into the golfing wilderness in 2016. We’re not suggesting he’s going to start challenging for the Majors again, but with a bit of luck with his fitness, he’ll get back to a level where he can put himself in the mix at PGA Tour events.
3 - Dustin Johnson will land his first major
While Tiger is a shadow of his former self, one US golfer we’re expecting big things from is Dustin Johnson. It may be sentiment for one of the nicest guys in golf, but here at Hole19, we think 2016 will be the year of the DJ. A string of near misses have raised doubts about his ability to close out a win but he’s simply too talented not to put that tag to bed.
4 - Odds are that the U.S. Team will win the Ryder Cup
Not many people are backing Europe and there are reasons for this. The winning streak is over and surely we’re not expecting a repeat of the miracle at Medinah.
5 - The American Ryder Cup team refresh
The reason we’re so confident in the US to win the Ryder cup is that, come 27 Sept, the US will team will look completely different to recent encounters. The hot young guns in the shape of Spieth, Johnson, Fowler, Reed, and rising stars Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau seem like the perfect storm of younger American talent. They’ve risen up to not only become household names but are also winning big events.
6 - Olympic learning curve for golf
With complaints over eligibility rules and the decision to go with stroke play over a more exciting format, it’s hard to see golf’s Olympic debut being a smash hit in Rio. While we’ll probably still end up with a worthy winner, this will probably be looked back on as a learning curve for future Games.
7 - Majors for McIlroy
This is the year that McIlroy is going to finally take Augusta. Then we predict he's going to follow that up with a win at the PGA Championship.
8 - Talent rising to the top
There are many young golfers coming through the ranks that will make an impact this year. Here’s our top three picks:
Justin Thomas - The 22-year-old has been slowly climbing into serious tour discussions—and 2015 was the year he made his biggest jump to date.
Tony Finau - In 2015, Finau exploded onto the scene with 22 made cuts from 31 attempts. Danny Lee - Lee absolutely tore it up during the second half of the season, but his first half wasn’t bad either.
Matt Fitzpatrick - The 21-year-old posted more top-10s than any other player during his rookie campaign, with his season highlight being a two-shot victory and his maiden professional title at the British Masters.
9 - The women’s game will become increasingly competitive
We’re going into the 2016 season anticipating a year-long battle for the top of the Rolex Rankings between Lydia Ko and Inbee Park, two of this generation’s finest women golfers. However, Nicole Broch Larsen is just one of many emerging contenders. Put her on your radar for 2016.
10 - The Masters will be a Sunday showdown
The final day of the Masters will be a Sunday showdown between the golfing heavyweights of today - Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
Ok - we can’t predict this with absolute certainty, but it’s something golf fans the world over will want to see.