Can These Six Superstar Golfers Bounce Back in 2021?
2020 saw some major shifts in the Official World Golf Ranking. For example, Daniel Berger ended 2019 ranked outside of the top 150. Collin Morikawa clocked in at #65.
12 months later and this pair strolls into Hawaii ranked 13th and 7th, respectively. While Berger and Morikawa steadily progressed in the right direction, the same can’t be said for some of the biggest names in the sport.
I’ll now zero in on six golfers looking to bounce back in 2021.
From the end of 2014 until the middle of 2019, Rickie Fowler rarely slipped out of the top 10 in the OWGR. Unfortunately, ever since ending his working relationship with Butch Harmon and hooking up with John Tillery (fall of 2019), things have gone south.
On the heels of zero top-10s since the 2020 American Express last January, Rickie has plummeted outside of the top 50 (currently ranked 53rd in the world).
Between battling blisters on his hands and trying to engrain new swing thoughts, Fowler was never able to get on track. And I’m not just referring to his golf swing.
Rickie tinkered with left-hand-low putting and even ditched his trusty blade for a face-balanced mallet.
A top-10 at Torrey Pines followed up a win at the Zozo Championship. It appeared that all of the momentum Tiger captured in 2019 was going to carry straight into 2020.
And then the hiatus kicked in.
While the majority of PGA Tour players were scrambling to play events when play resumed in June, Woods teed it up just twice before the FedEx Cup Playoffs. In all, here’s how Tiger has fared since summertime.
|7/16-7/19||The Memorial||71-76-71-76 (+6)||T40|
|8/6-8/9||PGA Championship||68-72-72-67 (-1)||T37|
|8/20-8/23||THE NORTHERN TRUST||68-71-73-66 (-6)||T58|
|8/27-8/30||BMW Championship||73-75-72-71 (+11)||T51|
|9/17-9/20||US Open||73-77 (+10)||MC|
|10/22-10/25||Zozo Championship @ Sherwood||76-66-71-74 (-1)||T72|
By my count, Tiger and I have the same number of top-35 finishes since February of 2020.
Zilch. Zippo. Nada.
Justin Rose has been the epitome of a world-class player for nearly a decade. However, his streak of winning at least one OWGR-sanctioned event every year since 2010 came to an end in 2020.
“Rosy” logged a solo-9th at the PGA in August and cracked the top-25 at Augusta in November – it’s not as if his game has vanished into thin air. At the same time, Justin missed 9/19 cuts during the past calendar year.
It’s safe to say the Englishman missed too many fairways.
Let’s not beat around the bush. “Lefty” was abysmal in 2020 other than a couple of throwback performances sprinkled in. Mickelson finished 3rd at Pebble Beach and runner-up in Memphis, although a T24 at the Travelers was his only other top 25.
In fact, since tying for second at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in early August, here’s what Phil has to show for his efforts on the PGA Tour.
- T71 at the PGA Championship
- MC at THE NORTHERN TRUST
- T44 at the Safeway Open
- MC at the US Open
- 76th at the Zozo Championship (78-man field)
- MC at the Houston Open
- T55 at the Masters
Unable to parlay the confidence gained from winning a couple of times on the “50 & Over Circuit,” perhaps Mickelson’s speed-training drills at home during the offseason end up being the missing link.
Instead of regrouping from a sincere slump in 2019, the golfer that used to be hailed as the “Golden Child” faded further into oblivion in 2020.
The once ultra-reliable putter dipped to 105th on the PGA Tour in SG: Putting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Whereas elite ball-strikers can overcome sketchy putting, guys like Spieth…not so much.
Jordan Spieth Ball Striking Stats in 2020
|Category||Rating||PGA Tour Rank|
One of the most intriguing storylines heading into 2021 is which version of Jordan Spieth shows up.
The 2018 Champion Golfer of the Year ended 2019 ranked 13th in the world. What a difference a year makes.
Not even close to sniffing our golf power rankings in 2021, Francesco Molinari is set to embark on the new year ranked 112th. He hasn’t recorded a top-10 since winning the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
We’re talking nearly two full years without a single top-10 across the entire globe.
Perhaps we should cut “Franny” some slack as the 38-year-old Italian decided to move his family to the States in July. The Molinari’s settled on a home in California, and Francesco has slowly begun the process of rebuilding his game.
15th at the Houston Open in November at least hinted at “signs of life.” After all, Molinari compiled five missed cuts and a T53 in his other six worldwide starts (in 2020).
With 25 majors between the group, we’re talking about an inordinate amount of talent and experience. With that being said, nothing guarantees that these golfers looking to bounce back in 2021 will bear the fruits of their labor.
Especially considering how many gifted young players are on the brink of breaking out.