A new year means a fresh start. A time to forget the troubles of the previous year, and to hopefully move on from any difficulties that the last 364 days had thrown up. That’s why people make new year’s resolutions, because on January 1st they have a renewed sense of optimism, and want to improve themselves in the upcoming year. Of course, many resolutions fall by the wayside pretty quickly, but the good intentions were there, to begin with.
We see the same thing in sports. Players and teams will want to be on top of the lists for awards come the end of December. For instance in soccer, the most prestigious individual award available is the Ballon d’Or, where a panel of fellow players decide who has been the best player in the previous calendar year. Serial winners of the last decade include Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but could this year see another winner step up to the plate? Possibly Jorginho, who helped Chelsea to win the Champions League and Italy to win Euro 2020? Or possibly Robert Lewandowski, who yet again defied logic with the vast number of goals he scored for his club side Bayern Munich and his international team Poland? We only have a few short months to wait before we find out.
In golf, each year players will be pushing to not only win the major championships (The Masters, The US Open, The Open and the PGA Championship) but also be ranked world number one at the end of each year. In his prime, Tiger Woods was ranked the best golfer in the world for 683 weeks or 13 years. This proved what a dominant force he was during this period, that no other golfer ever really got close to matching him. In this day and age, it is much more even, with several players having achieved number 1 status in the last few years.
When fans are betting on golf, browsing their apps for free sports picks on all the latest golf tournaments, they are often looking for odds on their favourite players, and those who have performed well that year. Who on the PGA tour has had the best 2021? Let’s have a look at the candidates.
The major winners
The first major of the year is usually The Masters, which is held in Augusta, Georgia. Ordinarily, it begins in the first full week of April, however, due to COVID-19 last year’s Masters actually only took place in November. That meant the winner of the 2020 edition, Dustin Johnson, was only reigning champion for five months, instead of the full calendar year. The 2021 Masters was won by Hideki Matsuyama, which was his first major championship win.
After that came the PGA Championship, this year held at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. It was a more familiar face who claimed victory here, as Phil Mickelson rolled back the years to claim his 6th major championship win, his first since 2013.
Jon Rahm had finished 4th in The Masters and the PGA Championship before, so it seemed only a matter of time before he pushed on to claim his first major. He finally achieved it this year in June, at the Torrey Pines Gold Course in San Diego, where this year’s U.S. Open was held.
The final major was claimed by Collin Morikawa. Morikawa had previously won the PGA Championship in 2020 and added his second major victory in this year’s Open Championship, held at the Royal St George’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England.
But which of these men are ranked world number one?
Just because you’ve won a major tournament, it doesn’t mean you will automatically be placed as world number one. In fact, two of the major winners, Mickelson and Matsuyama, aren’t even in the current top 10. Morikawa is, however, placed at number three. He is behind Dustin Johnson in second, and Jon Rahm in first. Rahm has been world number one since the end of May, for 17 weeks in total. He also was previously ranked world number one in July 2020.
Of course, the world rankings can change quite quickly, with a few bad results in tournaments. Players can’t even decide to play fewer competitions if they are placed far up the list, as this will, in turn, affect their ranking as well. There are several more PGA events happening this year, so the current top 10 could look very different. The Ryder Cup went to the American but there were standout performances from both teams. Top ranked Rahm went 3-1-1, while number two Johnson went 5-0-0. While many of these will take of the rest of the year off, others are hoping to continue to play to finish the year as high up the world rankings as possible.