10 Players to Watch on the PGA Tour in 2019
WHAT lies in store on the PGA Tour in 2019? We have already seen a glimpse of the future with the emergence of Cameron Champ, who is surely bound for greatness, and other youngsters you haven’t yet heard of will grab their share of the headlines. There are also some established stars looking to get their careers back on track. And will Tiger Woods finally win that 15th major? We pick out 10 players to follow.
Surely already a shoo-in as rookie of the year. He has already won on the PGA Tour and has got into the habit of fighting his way into contention. He makes Dustin Johnson look like a short hitter but if he is going to make his mark in the US Open or Open Championship then he is going to have to learn when to leave his driver in the bag. Augusta National should be made for him. As well as being a huge hitter, he has a wonderful temperament and the touch of an angel on and around the greens. He will surely add to that victory.
After winning two majors in an unforgettable year there will be huge pressure on Koepka’s shoulders to add to that tally. He overcame a dreadful wrist injury and returned to the game in magnificent shape. Possesses a wonderful golf swing and a magnificent temperament, and who can argue with the claims of a man who successfully defended his US Open title and then added the US PGA Championship, seeing off the challenge of Tiger Woods in the process. Finished the year as the world No 1, and could be set for a long reign.
After a dreadful 2017, the Northern Irishman had high hopes for 2018 but could manage just one victory on the PGA Tour and not a single success in Europe, although he did finish joint runner-ups in The Open at Carnoustie. He also had a poor Ryder Cup. However, he was talking about cancelling his European Tour membership to focus almost entirely on playing in America. McIlroy believed it would give him his best chance of adding to his major tally, which has been stuck at four victories since 2014. He was subjected to a huge amount of criticism for considering walking away from his roots in Europe, but he clearly needs to try something different - and he also needs to find a putting stroke that works every week, though has now committed to playing the minimum number of starts to maintain his card in Europe.
A man with a point to prove after a bitterly disappointing 2018, during which he contended at Augusta but was otherwise totally anonymous. He even failed to make the 30-man field for the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake. Spieth is a scruffy golfer. He misses lots of fairways and he doesn’t hit the ball terribly far. When he is in form, he is a magician with a wedge in his hands and his victories have all been the result of some incredible putting performances. His putter went cold for much of 2018 but if he can warm it up again next year then we will see him climbing the world rankings again.
The Australian put a miserable couple of years behind him by returning to the winners’ circle in 2018 and once again looks like the man who topped the world rankings. Day’s pace of play infuriates many, but the PGA Tour is determined to speed up the pace of play in 2019 and many believe that if Day had less time to out-think himself then he might win even more tournaments. It defies belief that he only has one major to his name. Day has the game to win on any course, and that makes him a man to watch.
Topped the PGA Tour money list again and looks like he can win every time he plays. He knows that it is impossible to play wonderful golf week in, week out and takes the inevitable poor tournaments in his stride. He never gives up and has a happy knack of being able to hole the putts that really matter. He is deceptively long from the tee and is also one of the straighter hitters on the PGA Tour. Will surely continue to make progress and will win more tournaments. His game is made for the US Open, and he could well be a contender at The Open Championship.
Fowler is in danger of becoming one of golf’s nearly men. He is certainly the one currently cursed with the title that nobody wants - the best player not to have won a major. He had a chance of breaking that duck at The Masters in April but came up short. He then went pretty cold for much of the year. But Fowler is too good to keep struggling. You sense that despite everything he has achieved, there is a lack of self-belief and if he can sort that out then he could have a stellar year in 2019.
He led The Open during the final round at Carnoustie and he finished second to Brooks Koepka after a sensational final round at the US PGA Championship before winning his 80th PGA Tour event at the Tour Championship at East Lake. On the debit side, he had a desperately disappointing Ryder Cup, where he failed to secure a single point, and was awful at the Hero World Challenge. Expectations will be huge for 2019, with lots of talk about him finally securing his 15th major. Much depends on whether he can remain fit, and he has already said that he will be reducing his playing schedule. Don’t expect too much. His best chance of number 15 will still come at The Masters.
Regarded by many as the brightest prospect among many bight prospects in America - and there are plenty of them. He won for the first time in 2018, which meant he could relax and start planning his schedule after securing a two-year exemption. Ask any tournament golfer and they will tell you that is a life-changing moment. No longer do they have to wonder about keeping their playing privileges; no longer do they have to play in every tournament; and no longer do they have to worry about Monday qualifying, which is one of the peculiarities about life on the PGA Tour for a number of young players. Wise has every shot in the book.
You may remember Hossler from the Houston Open, when he lost in a playoff to Ian Poulter in his rookie season. He had a 30-foot putt on the 72nd green to win the tournament and it burnt the edge of the hole. Asked if he still thinks about it, he said: “No. I made a good putt, and that’s the best you can do.” That is the attitude of a man who believes that bigger and better things lie ahead, who does not dwell on past disappointments. He also went on to finish second at the Travelers Championship. This boy can play and he will surely prove it in 2019 by winning for the first time.
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