Predictions for 2020 – European and USPGA MainTours.

As we enter 2020 we can look forward to who we think will be the players to watch for on both main tours. From each tour we will be selecting:

Who will be world number one at the end of 2020;

Who will break into the world top 20;

Three emerging players who will make their mark on tour.

 

So read on below to see who the players are and let us know what you think and who you would pick?

Just email us at [email protected] with your thoughts.

 

Let us start with The European Tour.

World Number One – John Rahm.

Why?

Rahm’s consistent form in 2019 earned the Spaniard three European Tour victories, including two Rolex Series titles.

His first win came at July’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – his second triumph in three years at the historic national open – before claiming his home open, the Mutuactivos Open de Espana, and finishing off a remarkable campaign with victory at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

The last of those titles also earned him the title as European Tour Number One – the first Spaniard to do so since Seve Ballesteros in 1991 – as he topped the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.

If the 25-year-old can continue this form into 2020, Rahm will be the hot favourite to retain the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex at the end of the campaign and by playing on both tours have a great chance to become world number one.

 

World Top 20 – Bernd Weisberger.

Why?

Following an extended injury break, Bernd Wiesberger returned to action last year and enjoyed the finest season of his career.

Three victories. Two in the Rolex Series. Six top tens. Third in the Race to Dubai. An outstanding campaign which saw the 34-year-old rise to 21st in the Official World Golf Ranking.

 

Emerging players _ Kalle Samooga; Francesco Laporta; Rasmus Hoojgaard.

Why?

Kalle Samooja –

The Finn had his first win on the Challenge Tour in 2018 in China that got him his card in 2019 on the Main Tour. Kalle previously played on the Asian Tour. He lost in a multi player play off at altitude at Crans Sur Mer in 2019 and has a number of top 20 finishes in the latter half of the year. Kalle appears to be maturing as a player now that he has reached his thirties.

 

Francesco Laporta –

Won his first European Challenge Tour title at the 2019 Hainan Open before winning his second title in three starts at the Challenge Tour Grand Final to end the season as Number One on the Road to Mallorca Rankings.

Booked a rookie season on the European Tour after coming through all three stages of the Qualifying School in 2015. Took the 15th card at Final Stage and dedicated his success to his grandmother, who had recently died.

Spent much of his early life in South Africa, travelling there for up to six months every year to visit his uncle and even has a South African twang to his accent when he switches from Italian to English. It was there he first picked up a golf club and he was instantly hooked. Luckily a new course was built near his Bari home soon after, where he grew to love the game under the tutelage of his coach, who was at PGA Catalunya Resort.

Played three years on the Sunshine Tour before gaining some Challenge Tour experience in 2015. Cites Seve Ballesteros as his hero, having watched the movie about the Spanish legend’s life and been inspired by his work ethic and attitude towards the game.

 

Rasmus Hoojgaard –

Following a dream start to life on the European Tour we’re backing 18-year-old Rasmus Højgaard, as a rookie, to continue his fine form and become the first Dane since Thomas Bjørn in 1996 to claim the coveted title in 2020.

In just his second season as a professional, and in his fifth European Tour start, the teenager held his nerve in a three man play-off by carding an outstanding eagle on the third extra hole to triumph at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

Højgaard, whose twin brother Nicolai is also a promising young player having finished as a runner-up at last year’s KLM Open, will have fierce competition from a number of outstanding prospects who qualified from the European Challenge Tour last year but can thrive on it.

 

The USPGA Tour.

World Number One – Justin Thomas.

Why?

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS that show why the twenty six year old, having regained his form, can be world number one in 2020.

2020 Season

  • THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES: Won for the 11th time on the PGA TOUR, winning THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES by two shots over Danny Lee. Earned second victory at the event and fourth in Asia since the start of the 2015-16 season (2015 CIMB Classic, 2016 CIMB Classic, 2017 THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, 2019 THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES). Became the fifth player to win 11 times before turning 27, joining Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. Made 27 birdies, most in the field. Played the par-4s in 13-under, five shots better than anyone else in the field. Converted the 54-hole lead/co-lead to victory for the eighth time in his 11th attempt. Marked fourth straight top-five on the PGA TOUR, reaching that mark for the first time in his career.
  • Safeway Open: Earned his third consecutive top-five (dating to his win at the 2019 BMW Championship) with a T4 at the Safeway Open, accomplishing the feat for the second time in his career.

2019 Season

Qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs for the fifth time in his fifth season and won his 10th PGA TOUR title at the BMW Championship, advancing to the TOUR Championship for the fourth consecutive season and finishing tied for third in the FedExCup standings. Became the ninth player to win 10 TOUR titles, including a major, before turning 27. Was one of two players to finish each season from 2016-17 to 2018-19 in the top 10 of the FedExCup standings, joining Brooks Koepka. Led the TOUR in Par-5 Scoring Average, and at 4.42, recorded the best mark in that statistic since Tiger Woods in 2003 (4.38). Earned seven top-10s and made 18 cuts in 20 starts.

  • TOUR Championship: Entering the TOUR Championship in the No. 1 position in the FedExCup and a 10-under score, tied Brooks Koepka for third, his fourth top-10 in four starts at the event. Led the field in Scrambling (73.08%).
  • BMW Championship: Recorded first win in 2018-19 at the BMW Championship, the penultimate event of the season. Marked 10th career PGA TOUR victory at the age of 26 years, 3 months, 20 days in his 136th career start, and second FedExCup Playoffs title. Set course record at Medinah Country Club Course No. 3 with a third-round 61, his fourth round of 61 or better on TOUR. Entered the final round with a six-shot lead, which at one point, shrunk to two. Won by three shots over Patrick Cantlay. Marked the seventh of 10 54-hole leads/co-leads on TOUR he converted to victory. Claimed the top spot in the FedExCup standings heading to the TOUR Championship.
  • World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship: Equaled his own 18-hole tournament record at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship with a final-round 62, his second 62 at Club de Golf Chapultepec in two years, en route to a ninth-place result. Began the final round 16 strokes off the lead before recording 10 birdies. Hit a 457-yard tee shot on No. 10 in the third round, the longest drive of the season on the PGA TOUR. Marked his third top-10 in three starts at the event.
  • Genesis Open: Entering the final round with a four-shot lead, recorded a 4-over 75 to finish runner-up at the Genesis Open, one stroke behind J.B. Holmes. 54-hole score of 196 matched the tournament record (Mike Weir/2004, Dustin Johnson/2017). Marked the first time he failed to win after posting a 54-hole score of 196 or better (2015 CIMB Classic/196/Won, 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii/188/Won, 2018 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational/196/Won, 2019 Genesis Open/196/2nd). Led the field in birdies with 23.
  • Waste Management Phoenix Open: Recorded first top-10 in five starts at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, placing third at 14-under 270. Held a share of the first-round lead with Harold Varner III and eventual champion Rickie Fowler after opening with a 64.
  • Sentry Tournament of Champions: In his fourth start at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, shot a final-round 65 to finish third. Tied Gary Woodland for most birdies in the field with 25.
  • CIMB Classic: Recorded first top-10 of the season with a T5 at the CIMB Classic. Tied the round of the day in the final round with an 8-under 64.

2018 Season

Season highlighted by three wins and a seventh-place finish in his FedExCup title defense. Made the cut in 21 of 23 starts, earning double-digit top-10s (10) for the second consecutive season and reaching 20 top-25s for the first time in his career. Became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2006 and 2007 to lead the TOUR in earnings in consecutive seasons. Accumulated a score of 155-under-par for the season, second-best on TOUR (Dustin Johnson, 189-under). Earned inaugural appearance on the United States Ryder Cup team.

  • Ryder Cup: Made his Ryder Cup debut at Le Golf National in Paris, France and finished the week with a 4-1-0 record, as the Europeans defeated the U.S., 17.5-10.5. Earned four points in the 2018 Ryder Cup and was the leading scorer for the United States Team. Was paired with Jordan Spieth in all four of the team sessions and the duo went on to win three of the four matches. Defeated Rory McIlroy 1-up in the opening Singles match on Sunday.
  • TOUR Championship: Posted four par-or-better rounds to finish T7 at the TOUR Championship, six strokes behind champion Tiger Woods. The finish also led to a seventh-place finish in his title defense of the FedExCup. Has three top-10 finishes in as many starts at East Lake (T7/2018, 2/2017, T6/2016).
  • THE NORTHERN TRUST: Snuck into the top 10 (T8) at THE NORTHERN TRUST with four rounds in the 60s in his first time playing The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey.
  • PGA Championship: Angling to become just the second player to successfully defend a PGA Championship crown (Tiger Woods, 2000 and 2007), posted back-to-back 67s on the weekend at the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club. At 10-under 270, finished T6. Was tied for the lead at one point Sunday, before two bogeys on his last five holes resulted in the T6 showing. Had he won, he would have become the first player to win the week before winning a major championship title since Rory McIlroy in 2014 (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, PGA Championship).
  • World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational: Converted a three-stroke lead after 54 holes lead into a four-stroke win at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Recorded his ninth career PGA TOUR victory – and first at a World Golf Championships event – in his 112th career start at the age of 25 years, 3 months, 7 days. Became the fifth player and youngest of the five to win the FedExCup, a major championship and a World Golf Championships event (Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods). Became the third player with three wins during the 2017-18 season (Justin Thomas/3, Bubba Watson/3, Dustin Johnson/3).
  • the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide: Posted a T8 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, his second consecutive top-10 at the event (T8/2018, T4/2017). Finished his final round eagle-birdie-par-birdie for a 4-under 68 and an 11-under total.
  • THE PLAYERS Championship: With a T11-result at THE PLAYERS Championship, ascended to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Became the 21st player to be No. 1 since the OWGR began in 1986.
  • World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play: Advanced to the semifinals of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play before being defeated in the consolation match by Alex Noren. Won five matches on the week, having claimed just one victory out of six matches in two prior starts at the event.
  • World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship: Lost to Phil Mickelson with a bogey on the first playoff hole at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship. Sat 11 strokes back after 36 holes before firing a course-record 62 in round three at Club de Golf Chapultepec to pull within four of the lead, then a final-round 64 that was capped by a 119-yard hole-out from the 18th fairway to post 16-under. His weekend score of 16-under 126 matched the best 36-hole score (any rounds) in the WGC-Mexico Championship. Became the first player since Russell Knox in 2015-16 (Won/WGC-HSBC Champions, P2/OHL Classic at Mayakoba) to win one week and lose in a playoff the next.
  • The Honda Classic: Won for the seventh time in his last 31 starts with his second win of the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season via playoff at The Honda Classic. Defeated 54-hole leader Luke List with a birdie-4 on the first extra hole, improving his playoff record to 2-0. Reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the FedExCup for the first time since winning the 2016-17 FedExCup. Moved to No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, the highest position of his career to date. Became the second multiple-season winner, joining Patton Kizzire.
  • Genesis Open: Recorded a final-round 1-under 70 to finish T9 at the Genesis Open, his best outing in four starts at the event (T41/2015, T54/2016, T39/2017, T9/2018).
  • THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES: Started THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES with a 9-under 63 and held on to win in his second start of the season. In the first playoff of his career, defeated Marc Leishman on the second extra hole after halving the first. Missed an eagle putt on the 72nd hole to win in regulation, but made birdie to earn a spot in the playoff.

World Top 20 – Kevin Kisner.

Why?

The thirty five year old from South Carolina has won $20 Million on tour since turning professional in 2006. He is currently ranked 25th in the world and he can make the step up into the world top twenty in 2020. Kevin had a decent year in 2019, as highlighted below, that can propel him forward into a new year.

2019 Season

  • Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Posted 20-under with rounds of 62-69-68-69 at TPC Louisiana to finish T5 at Zurich Classic of New Orleans while partnering Scott Brown. Highlight was hole-in-one with a 5-iron at the 201-yard third hole in the opening round (unofficial due to team format). Finished in the top 15 for the third time in the first three years of the team format at the event.
  • World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play: After losing the Championship Match a year earlier to Bubba Watson, advanced to the final match of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play for the second consecutive year, emerging victorious after defeating Matt Kuchar, 3 and 2, for his first career World Golf Championships title and third PGA TOUR victory in his 196th start at the age of 35 years, 1 month, 16 days. Lost his Opening Match to Ian Poulter (2-up), becoming the first player to lose his opening match and go on to win the title. Became only the fifth player in tournament history to advance to the Championship Match in back-to-back years, but first runner-up to win the following season. Beat Poulter on the third extra playoff hole to advance out of Group Play. Took out HaoTong Li in the Round of 16 (6 and 5), Louis Oosthuizen in the Quarterfinals (2 and 1) and Francesco Molinari (1-up) in the Semifinals.
  • The RSM Classic: Recorded 63-65 on the weekend to finish T7 at The RSM Classic. Ranked fourth in proximity to the hole on approach shots for the week (27′ 8″), best of any player in the top-10.

 

Emerging players – Carlos Ortiz; Sebastian Munoz; Corey Conners.

Why?

Carlos Ortiz – The twenty eight year old Mexican turned pro in 2018 and qualified for the 2019 Main Tour. His results at the end of 2019 were excellent. He finished tied second in The Mayakoba Classic; tied fourth in The Sanderson Farms Championship and tied fourth in The Houston Open. If he can take that form forward into 2020 he will be in contention to win on the Main Tour.

 

Sebastian Munoz – The twenty six year old Colombian won the recent Sanderson Farms Championship. Sebastian turner pro in 2015 and then qualified for the Main Tour in 2017. We believe that his recent win on the Main Tour will give him the confidence to be a consistent contender in 2020.

 

Corey Conners – The Canadian from Ontario has won on the main Tour, taking The Valero Texas Open in 2019. The twenty seven year old joined the tour in 2018, having turned pro in 2015. 2019 was his break through year, winning once and finishing second at The Sanderson Farms Championship and third at The Sony Open in Hawaii. 2020 may see Corey become a regular challenger for top honours on the Main Tour.