Which golfers look set to breakthrough in 2016?
Golf really is in a blessed state right now. The amount of new talent cropping up on the various Tours is mind-boggling to say the least. Gone are the days when you could count the number of probable winners of a tournament on one hand. The depth these days is such that anybody in a 156-strong field is capable of causing a surprise.
Jordan Spieth is the finest example of what’s happening with the sport right now. It was impossible to imagine at the beginning of 2014 that he’d become the world No 1 by the end of 2015.
Spieth is obviously a rare talent and it would be difficult for anyone to match his exploits over the next 12 months, but there are several stars who have the ability to light up 2016.
Here is a look at a few of them…
Growing up, I used to be fascinated by Patton tanks. They were huge, but moved fast in the battlefield and demolished the opposition with the utmost ease.
At 6ft 5in and 95 kilos, Patton Kizzire is golf’s version of the all-conquering machine. The American won the Web.com Tour Order of Merit to gain his PGA Tour card. He then made a good start to his PGA Tour career, with two top-10s in his first four starts. He started the 2015 season ranked 1,548th in the world, and finished as world No 74.
His best friend has already got a Green Jacket, a US Open trophy, FedEx Cup title and the right to be called the world No. 1. Now the 22-year Thomas is determined to emulate the efforts of his buddy Jordan. After a fantastic start to his PGA Tour career in 2014-15, when he did almost everything except for winning a tournament, Thomas has already landed his maiden title this season at the CIMB Classic. It could just open the floodgates in 2016.
Considered the world’s finest amateur and one of the most interesting characters in the game. As only the fifth player ever to win the US Amateur Championship and the NCAA individual title the same year, he’s expected to turn pro after the Masters in April.
The 22-year-old has his own unique set of clubs (all shafts in wedges and irons cut to the same length) and his own scientific method of working out his putts.
The 21-year-old Englishman was one of the biggest success stories of 2015 and there is no reason why he won’t be able to continue in the same vein in 2016. With remarkable consistency and his all-round skills, he won once and had 10 top-10s on the European Tour last season. Now inside the top 50 of the world and assured of playing all the majors and WGCs, Fitzpatrick is set to make an even bigger impact.
The 20-year-old served notice with his exceptional play in this year’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai where he finished tied seventh – the best ever finish by a Chinese in a WGC event.
A product of the Chinese Golf Association’s Junior Development Programme, Li was 49th in the Money List of the Web.com Tour this year and is sure to wow the PGA Tour very soon.
The young Irishman was the toast of the Open Championship at St Andrews this year where he co-lead the tournament after three rounds. The finish wasn’t as fairytale-like, but the 23-year-old will surely have many chances in the future. He has turned pro and a tied 19th place at the Dunhill Links Championship in October was a great start to his new career.
He’s not exactly an unknown quantity now after a superb 2015, but 2016 is going to be another massive year for the Indian. After winning twice on the European Tour, Lahiri is planning to give the PGA Tour his full focus this season.
The world No. 41 is keen to build on his fifth place finish in the PGA Championship this year, and is hoping a bit of familiarity with the American courses will help him in having a great rookie season.
After the LPGA Tour turned down her application to become a member twice, the 17-yearold did the next best thing – she Monday qualified for the Cambia Portland Classic, and then won the tournament by a record margin of eight shots. The world No. 18 Canadian, who had two top-five results in majors this year before turning pro, is seen as the biggest rival to Lydia Ko in the coming years.
In Gee Chun
The 20-year-old Korean won the Women’s US Open for her first LPGA Tour win in her maiden appearance in the tournament and is all set to storm the US this year. In 2015, she won five titles on the highly competitive Korean LPGA and twice on the LPGA of Japan Tour.
A lot is expected from the 30-year-old Piller in 2016, even though she is yet to win on the LPGA Tour. But she was the star of the US team in winning the Solheim Cup in sensational fashion, and it was her battling win over Caroline Masson that sealed it in her country’s favour. Piller has improved steadily since turning pro in 2007, and 2015 has been her best season – two runner-up finishes on the LPGA Tour helping her climb to No. 31 in the world.
The 17-year-old from Bangalore forced everyone to take notice of her immense talent after creating history by becoming the youngest ever player, and the first Indian, to win the Ladies European Tour’s Qualifying School tournament. Earlier in the year she also won the British Amateur Strokeplay title and the prestigious St Rules Trophy at St Andrews.
•Culled from sport360.com
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