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Well, its been awhile since I’ve posted anything in here, and I kinda feel bad about it, so let’s make this a catch-all for 2015 and set some things up for what the golf world has in store for an action-packed and transitory 2016.
If you really wanna boil down 2015 to two words, it’s pretty simple, and I’m sure you can guess them, Jordan Spieth. Spieth had a masterclass of a year and what really amounts to a career year for most any golfer instead was a cementing of Spieth’s place at the top of the golf world at the age of 21/22. Rory McIlroy has been the destined top dog for years, and he has shown he is indeed worthy of the spot with his monstrous 2014, but Rory’s injury that took him out of a lot of key events in 2015 allowed Spieth to stake his claim and hopefully set up that sparring match we’ll be seeing between the two for the coming years.
Things don’t end so easily there, Spieth won the first two majors, the Masters and U.S. Open in impressive fashion and was a shot here and there from winning the Open Championship which went to Zach Johnson. Spieth would fill out his year with The Tour Championship, but certainly had a better start to the year than he did ending it. Jason Day on the other hand only seemed to get better as the year went on. Jason Day is one of those guys who we’ve seen the talent in for years, but for whatever reason couldn’t consistently pull it all together and take down a big tournament and put his best golf up on the grandest stage. 2015 would change that. From July on Day won the Canadian Open, PGA Championship (in record-breaking fashion), The Barclays and the BMW Championship and somehow found himself the no. 1 golfer in the world for a brief period.
Of course, the tour doesn’t consist of just those three golfers, there are a ton of notables who are all vying to retain or regain their spot. Rickie Fowler, perhaps the best bet to make the “top three” a foursome, had another breakout year where he finally won a second tournament, since not having won since his first in 2012, with the Players (a pretty big time win) and the Deutsche Bank playoff event near the end of the year. 2014 saw Fowler place in the top 5 in each major event, but 2015 was a shadow of that success, even with his more consistent golf. 2015 showed a ton of up arrows, though, especially his improved play after working with Butch Harmon. I’d expect 2016 to be nothing but the same and anything less than contending in majors would be a disappointment to Rickie’s year. Players like Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott tried to chase down wins that they just couldn’t manage, Dustin Johnson kept wishing tournaments ended on Fridays, and Tiger Woods begins to feel like a distant memory with injury after injury keeping him away from the spotlight as countless other more deserving fill it up with the skill he once had.
2016 is also notable for a couple reasons, with the ban on the anchored stroke coming in to effect, making people like Adam Scott and Tim Clark go back to the standard putting style. It’s not a huge impact, as so few guys were using that style, but remains notable especially for someone of a high skill level of Adam Scott where his putting has always been the thing that holds him back, save for that fateful April Sunday in 2013. We also have golf returning to the Olympics for the first time in over a hundred years, which should be an interesting time given the rigmarole the course has gone through to set it up and with some players outwardly mentioning that they are still placing the majors and preparation for those events higher than competing at the Olympics. Specifically, the end of July sees The Open championship and the PGA championship sandwiched around the unlucky Canadian Open, so expect a flurry of activity then as the Olympics begins just two weeks after that and then the playoffs after another two weeks. Such is the fast-paced life of being a golfer.
So, now as 2016 begins the cards are finally showing what everybody predicted and hoped for. For McIlroy to take his place as the supposed pre-eminent top star, that is until Jordan Spieth came along and staked his claim for the title, until Jason Day strung together some of the most impressive golf of late to pencil in the top figures in the sport going forward. All three men entering the new season are healthy and now fully aware of the work it takes to maintain staying on the top when you have a handful of equally talented golfers ready to take your place with the next tournament win. With Augusta, Oakmont, Royal Troon and Baltustrol beckoning in the distance, 2016 could be the year that our generation’s top stars begin the meat of their career and really begin to define how they go down in history.