Neil Tappin is joined by Kit Alexander and the two make a series of bold golf predictions for 2021.
10 Bold Golf Predictions For 2021
1. There will be five rookies in the European Ryder Cup team…
Team Europe is set for a changing of the guard. Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland, Robert MacIntyre, Bernd Wiesberger and Matt Wallace are the leading contenders to make their debuts, but Victor Perez, Rasmus Hojgaard, Sami Valimaki and Aaron Rai are also in the hunt. Francesco Molinari, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer are amongst the established names who need to find better form to qualify.
2. …But Europe will still win the Ryder Cup on American soil
It would be amazing to have the full allocation of fans, but there’s a chance the numbers will be limited – and that plays into European hands. The top of the world rankings are dominated by Americans, but that creates huge pressure and expectation. Europe love playing the underdog and spoiling the party. Plus, Whistling Straits is a very European-style course.
3. The R&A and USGA will announce they are considering bifurcation
Bifurcation is the separation of the rules that govern professional golf and the amateur game, specifically in this case around equipment. The pros are hitting it longer and making too many great courses obsolete, while amateurs still find the game very difficult. No one really wants bifurcation, but it’s the best solution currently on the table to control the pros without hurting handicap golfers.
4. There’s going to be a hole-in-one on a par-4 in a Tour event
Professional golfers are hitting the ball colossal distances and there’s a growing trend for driveable par-4s on tournament courses. Dustin Johnson very nearly did it at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions and there will be ever more golfers with even more chances to achieve it in 2021.
5. Tiger Woods will win his 16th major
You can never doubt the GOAT after his 2019 Masters win, and the major venues set up pretty nicely for him this year. The Masters is back to its familiar April slot and the US Open is at Torrey Pines, where Tiger famously won the same event in 2008 with a stress fracture to his leg and a torn ACL. Plus, he’s won the Farmers Insurance Open there seven times. The PGA Championship is at Kiawah Island, where Tiger finished tied-11th in 2012 and The Open is at Royal St George’s, where he finished tied-4th in 2003.
6. There are going to be three first-time major winners
There are some incredibly talented players looking for their maiden major triumphs, including Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Matt Wolff, Patrick Cantlay, Tyrrell Hatton and Tony Finau. These guys will have looked at Bryson Dechambeau and Collin Morikawa winning last year and think, ‘if he can do it, so can I’. You wouldn’t be surprised if any of them did.
7. A UK&I player will win The Open
A UK&I player hasn’t won since Rory McIlroy in 2014, Paul Lawrie was the last Scot to win in 1999 and England’s wait goes back 29 years to Nick Faldo in 1992. Rory McIlroy will of course be amongst the favourites but there are legitimate hopes for England and Scotland as well. We fancy Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Robert MacIntyre to make some noise at Royal St George’s. Not to mention a resurgent Lee Westwood, and experienced heads like Paul Casey and Justin Rose.
8. Jordan Spieth will return to form
The three-time major winner is too good and too young to not climb back up the world rankings in 2021. He’s got real star quality and golf would be in even better shape with him back amongst the elite.
9. Lydia Ko will get back into the winner’s circle
The New Zealander has won 15 LPGA Tour titles, including two majors, but she hasn’t won since April 2018. She’s still only 23 and has found some form again since she started working with Sean Foley. The former world number one is back up to 29 in the world rankings and had a worst finish of tied-13th in her last five starts of 2020. A 16th victory is inevitable in 2021 – and more will quickly follow.
10. We won’t be seeing any 48-inch drivers on Tour (or will we?!)
Bryson Dechambeau has been testing a longer driver, but he won’t use it consistently in tournaments – and other players won’t go down that route because they’ll lose too much control. At least that’s what Neil thinks. Kit, on the other hand, thinks we’ll see more 48-inch drivers because modern technology is so forgiving and the rewards for big hitting are so great.