Just like the PGA Tour announced it’s return in Hawaii last week, the Amateur Hour Podcast does the same. As we begin our 4th season, we are extremely thankful for all the support thus far and are excited to bring some great content to you all in 2021! There is always more to learn about the players, caddies, and media in today’s game and we are going to work to bring it to you in a fun way.
With that being said, there was an event last week, and the winner was a bit of a surprise. Not because this man hadn’t been playing great golf, but because he simply hadn’t been into the winner’s circle since 2013! That of course, was Harris English, who played superb golf all week before closing out a playoff on the first hole against the hard charging Joaquin Neimann. Kapalua tends to provide some drama late, and this year didn’t disappoint. A ton of credit to English for continuing to battle, resurrecting his career, and finally paying it off with a win. He has booked his ticket into the 22′ TOC!
With the first tourney of the year wrapped up, let’s take a look at 10 story lines I believe are worth monitoring in the 2021 Season:
- First Time Major Winners: Every year, at least it seems, we have been talking about how there is truly a deep talent pool of golf. And there are plenty of stats to back it up. 2 of the top 6 in the world rankings have yet to capture their first Major (Rahmbo, X man). 2 others just got their first last year (Bryson, Kawa). 12 of the top 20 in the world have never won a Major!! That’s not even including our man Rickie (so overdue). I am looking forward to seeing some of these guys get into contention and get the job done. However, we know DJ, Brooks, Rory (maybe), and the rest of the multi major winners will have every intention to keep that from happening. All in all, it looks as though we could have some dynamic majors in 2021, and with the Ryder Cup being moved, this is a great year for golf fans.
- Is Brooks Healthy?: Dude, you’re giving Brooks his own headline? Your absolutely right. This man was the most dominant player in the biggest events that we have seen since Tiger Woods (maybe Rory up to 2014) before his knee and hip injuries derailed his 2020 campaign. Still, his success is fresh in the minds of the field, and while they may not fear him like a prime Tiger, I certainly would not want to see him at the top of the leader board if I was gunning for my first Major title. Brooks is player who seems to take everything in stride, and has rarely shot a poor round when in contention. That, along with his clutch ability, make him a huge threat to ass to his Major tally if he can stay healthy.
- Time for Thomas to take the next step: Yes, JT is perennially included when you hear people talking about the top players in the world, and with good reason. However, I think he would be the first to tell you the last 3 years of big tourney play could have gone a little better. He hasn’t been poor by any means, but a few blown 54 hole heads and a handful of poor Major performances leave something to be desired. He has the game and the drive to get there, but it will be interesting if and when he can really take the next step and grab another Major.
- Jordan, Jordan, Jordan: Speaking of JT, it’s almost law to mention Spieth next. A lot of people have thrown in the towel on this guy (I have had my moments as well). He has had more struggles than you ever expect a 20 something, 3 – time Major winner to have, but such is life. As with Thomas, the drive is there. The rumored switch to Butch Harmon could be the beginning of a real turn around, as he has always shown flashes but the consistency has just not been there over the last 3-4 years. We’re all pulling for JS to get back into the mix, and come hell or high water he is determined to get there.
- Where will Finau win?: Everyone who follows golf knows how good Tony Finau is. The dude is scary good. Effortless power, touch, poise, you name it. However, all that somehow hasn’t translated into a full field PGA Tour win. It seems to be only a matter of time, but it has to weighing on him just a bit every time he gets close, which makes pulling it off that much harder. The funny thing is Finau has the game to overpower a field one week, so maybe any nerves that may show up won’t matter. Until that happens, fairly or not, his closing prowess will be questioned. Once Tony does get a big win though, watch out.
- Tiger’s quest for 83: The most decorated player in the history of the game will be on the prowl for the record setting win each time he tees it up in 2021. Knowing Tiger, he will be extra focused to achieve the # as soon as possible. He showed serious flashes in 2019, but had a bit of a lackluster in 2020 and it will be interesting to see how he prepares his schedule for this year. Obviously as fans it is great to see him play any time, but hopefully he has a few more tourneys on the calendar this year, health permitting. You can never count him out, and he clearly has courses he likes that will be the main spots of intrigue. Give me Bay Hill or Memorial as the place he etches his name into the solo 1 spot for all time wins.
- Is the Dustin era officially upon us?: Despite being as consistent as anyone in the world since turning pro, DJ has seemingly always been one upped by someone else during his time. Tiger/Phil early on, Rory in the early 2010’s, and most recently Brooksy. Not to mention Bryson’s non stop media coverage…Through all of it, Dustin continues to put together incredible seasons, and much like Mickelson, seems to be peaking as he reaches his mid to late 30’s. 2 Majors down, 2 more to go for the Grand Slam, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he captured it within the next 2 years. There is likely not a better golfer on a week to week basis then DJ (besides the bizarro 80 stretch last year), and it looks like he may be gaining a bit more confidence in the Majors as he gets older. That could be the difference as he looks to have a run in the next 3-4 years that could cement him among the all time best in the game of golf.
- The Ryder Cup, back again: The wait is not much longer. Arguably the best event in golf was postponed in 2020 due to COVID, but it is ready to rock in 21′. Considering what happened last time the RC was held, there will be no shortage of story lines to look at before this one. It will be a big advantage for the US to get back on home soil, regardless of fan attendance. The U.S. could use a win badly this year, because despite the victory at Hazeltine, Europe has had our number. 4 of the last 5 and looking to continue the streak. As always it will be exciting to see who comes out of the wood works to earn a spot outside of the obvious players, and captains picks are as intriguing as ever given the pool of talent on each side. It will be a long wait, but one that I think could be worthwhile, especially if we get some fans in attendance. USA…
Enjoy the golf as the tour resumes this week in Hawaii…til next time.