Golf in 2021: Bryson DeChambeau’s continued growth, Rory McIlroy’s major drought among 12 biggest storylines

Mercifully, 2020 is over, which clearly means many issues. One is new (and really full) golf 12 months is right here. Due to the pandemic, occasions just like the Olympics and Ryder Cup had been ran into 2021 alongside an already-jammed PGA Tour slate that was amended due to all of the postponements in 2020.

With a brand new 12 months comes loads of new storylines. A few of these will probably be overtaken by narratives we do not even learn about proper now — who might have predicted this time a 12 months in the past pandemic and Bryson DeChambeau’s weight acquire would take middle stage in 2020? — however some could have a good brighter highlight than we predict. We will not know that on Dec. 31, after all, however we do know that there are a number of huge tales heading into subsequent 12 months.

Apparently, the man who has been on the middle of most of them for the final 20 years isn’t the pre-eminent focus going into subsequent 12 months and barely within the prime 12 in any respect. Let’s begin on the epicenter of 2020 and have a look at the 12 largest storylines heading into a brand new 12 months.

1. What is going to Bryson DeChambeau do subsequent? We is likely to be underestimating what’s taking place proper now in a number of other ways. First, I will be yelling for the following a number of years that all the sport modified the week he gained the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Guidelines will change due to that week, and although these modifications will not go into impact for some time, that week will probably be one of many major causes they occur. Second, it blows my thoughts that perhaps one of the best golfer on the planet is tinkering together with his swing in such huge methods and doing so proper out within the open (in a Christmas onesie). There’s rather a lot to criticize about Bryson, however his insane and relentless want to get each ounce of success out of his physique and his sport as he enters his prime isn’t a kind of issues. As was the case for the second half of 2020, we cannot have the ability to have a look at anything when he is on the scene in 2021, for higher and for worse.

2. Will Jon Rahm make the leap? He is had among the finest begins to a profession of all time, however the main championship trophy case remains to be naked. This does not usually get me all that labored up, however the higher the expertise and the longer it goes, the extra of a burden it turns into (Rahm needn’t look outdoors his personal nation’s finest gamers ever for proof of that).

three. Will Jordan Spieth do something in any respect? It is on repeat, however I am taking place with the ship. I’ve no different alternative. Spieth fell from No. 44 to No. 82 on the earth and can probably fall out of the highest 100 pretty quickly if nothing modifications. He has the flexibility to rework the ethos of total tournaments when he is within the combine like solely a handful of different golfers do. So for the sake of the game I hope one thing that does not look the primary 30 seconds of a curler coaster trip is awaiting him in 2021.

four. Is … the foremost championship profitable over for Rory McIlroy? As somebody who covers the game and enjoys sure gamers and folks greater than others, I definitely hope not. But it surely’s been six full years now. Matthew Wolff couldn’t drive the final time Rory gained a significant. That is not the whole lot, but it surely’s not nothing both. He was on a fairly torrid run from January 2019 proper up till the world stopped again in March, however he by no means really reached that stage for an prolonged interval after the restart. He’ll stay the game’s finest spokesperson for the foreseeable future, however what he says carries much more weight when he is profitable main championships. That is how the sport has at all times labored and certain the way it at all times will.

5. Does a younger star emerge from the pack? We’ve mentioned the younger studs on the PGA Tour advert nauseam, and whereas no one agrees on something, I feel most individuals agree that the clear-cut threesome on the prime is made up of Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa in some order. The query for 2021 is whether or not certainly one of them separates himself as the man in 2021 or whether or not we’re in the identical spot this time subsequent 12 months hollering about which ones has the brighter future.

6. How will we take into consideration Tiger Woods? The Tiger Woods storyline for me is much less about him and extra about us. His downward trajectory that turns into pure as a participant ages was upended by that 2019 Masters win, and now about half the parents who observe golf genuinely count on a 45-year-old to have Rory McIlroy’s main profession and upend Jack Nicklaus’ file of 18 main championships. That is not going to occur, and I believe the 2020 Tiger we obtained — suffering from damage, mildly aggressive at occasions, fairly uncompetitive at different occasions — is extra of a harbinger of what is to return. Is the broader golf world prepared to simply accept that?

7. Can Brooks Koepka bounce again?: What is the deal? Is he wholesome? Is he nonetheless the monster he as soon as was at main championships? Did he have his Jason Day-like two-year run, and that is what all the profession appears to be like like? I do not assume he is feared like he was perhaps this time two years in the past, and a few of what was swagger now comes off a bit extra petty than it used to. That is what occurs once you’re not housing everyone you go up towards. Huge 12 months for him.

eight. Can D.J. clear up? Again in June when the foremost championship slate began to emerge, it grew to become clear that the entire seven majors in 11 months factor was a premium alternative for any individual to carve out a complete profession’s value of feat in a single 12 months. That any individual is likely to be Dustin Johnson, who has gained thrice for the reason that PGA Tour restarted and will probably be sporting a inexperienced jacket down Magnolia Lane in April. The one query is what number of wins (and principally majors) he’ll accumulate and whether or not we glance again at this pandemic-induced stretch because the second when his output lastly accurately matched his expertise.

9. Strategic alliances: It obtained buried as a result of it got here out the day after Thanksgiving, however the PGA Tour and European Tour aligned themselves in such a manner international tour is extra possible now than it was three months in the past. A lot of that is seemingly a results of the priority over competitors from the Premier Golf League — which obtained talked a few lot in 2020 — and I wish to know if there’s any motion from both the PGL or the way forward for the PGA Tour and European Tour in 2021.

10. Who has the Berger-English 12 months? Daniel Berger and Harris English — each presently ranked within the prime 30 on the earth — moved up a mixed 300 spots within the Official World Golf Rankings within the final 12 months. Each gamers had already established themselves pretty much as good professionals however each had fallen down for varied causes. Throw Russell Henley in that group (you can toss others like Mackenzie Hughes as properly), and you’ve got a pleasant template for the way a lot can change in a 12 months. They had been all attention-grabbing, enjoyable tales to observe (and guess on!) this 12 months, and I am to see who follows them in 2021.

11. Bryson guidelines: That is proper, Bryson is such a giant storyline that he will get two of those. Like I stated off the highest, any potential gear modifications that restrict distance will take years to implement, however I am curious if the tipping level for change will probably be reached in 2021, and who would be the first to attract a line within the sand to guard a few of the most historic programs within the sport. No person thinks Main League Baseball is much less attention-grabbing with picket bats than it might be with metallic ones, however for some motive rolling again both the ball or the gear used to hit the ball has turn out to be a 3rd rail. This 12 months made it clear that we now have not reached the outer limits of distance within the skilled ranks, which signifies that a few of the nice golf programs of all time are going to stay below siege till any individual does one thing. Hopefully whoever that individual or group is chooses 2021 for that one thing to happen. 

12. Ryder Cup workforce formation: For myriad causes, the formation of this 12 months’s Ryder Cup groups goes to be extra distinctive, attention-grabbing and look rather a lot totally different than in different years. Each groups might look wildly totally different than they did in 2018 in Paris, and each side have inquiries to reply. Europe has to find out which Ryder Cup is the final for his or her nice lions (Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter), and america has to search out its soul. With Woods and Phil Mickelson probably out of the image and Jordan Spieth nonetheless wandering within the desert, does Justin Thomas assume that function? And what does that imply for Patrick Reed? The dynamics on the U.S. aspect are messier and extra dramatic, even supposing they need to be the large favorites going into the summer time.

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