We’ve seen a few surprise winners on the PGA Tour during the 2020-21 season so far, with older golfers and inexperienced golfers alike winning silverware. As the year draws to a close, and we bid goodbye to this strangest of years for golf and sport in general, it’s worth looking back at the players who made an unexpected impact in 2020, and those who might well burst onto the scene in 2021.
Here, we’ve put together a list of golfers that all fans should be watching closely next year, whether it’s for their supreme potential or the fact that they’ve already burst onto the scene in 2020. While these players may not be at the top of the list in golf betting, they’ll fancy their chances of muscling their way into contention in the months to come.
2020 proved to be a year of great success for Collin Morikawa, as the 23-year-old won his maiden major championship, defying the odds to win the PGA Championship back in August. The American held off stiff competition at TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, in the form of Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson to card a -13 score and earn his place among the pantheon of major champions.
Success breeds expectation, and Morikawa will need to back up his achievements with a string of good results in 2021 if he is to truly establish himself and not be regarded as a flash in the pan.
If you watched the Masters last month, you’ll know all about the young South Korean golfer Sungjae Im. The 22-year-old played sensationally at Augusta National, running eventual champion Dustin Johnson close on his way to a final score of -15, finishing tied-for-second with Australian Cameron Smith. Over the four days, Im showed he has the all-round game to be a real contender for many years to come on the PGA Tour, with a beautiful, almost slow-motion driving technique which makes him a joy to watch. Expect big things in 2021 from the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year.
Another young golfer who enjoyed impressive success in the major championships in 2020 was Matthew Wolff. Aged just 21, Wolff performed admirably at both the PGA Championship and the US Open. In the former, he finished tied-for-fourth as Morikawa claimed the title, while at the US Open at Winged Foot, New York, he pushed eventual winner Bryson DeChambeau all the way before eventually falling short and finishing second. DeChambeau and Wolff were the only participants not to record an over-par final score in the tournament, such was the difficulty of the course and conditions. That makes the youngster a major player to watch in 2021.
Norwegian Viktor Hovland perhaps hasn’t quite enjoyed the same success as the aforementioned golfers, but that does not take away from his undoubted talents. In 2019, Hovland was the low amateur at the Masters, meaning he got to sit in the winner’s cabin with pro champion Tiger Woods and enjoy the glory of a traditionally highly prestigious honour. A T12 finish in the 2019 US Open at a difficult Pebble Beach is his best major finish to date, and while 2020 may have been a relatively quiet year for the 23-year-old, he’ll be giving his all to produce more fireworks in the year ahead.