What a year it was in 2021 for golf fans. After all the cancellation of 2020 it was nice to get back to a nearly full schedule of golf every week. A year of highs & lows as per usual which saw Blandy get over the line at his 478th attempt, Hideki winning the Master’s, Phil winning the PGA, Jordan Spieth finding the winner enclosure again & Team Europe winning for the only the 2nd time on US Soil in the Solheim cup were just a few highlights for me. 2022 is looking like it will be another cracker with the main tours & development tours announcing more events in the schedules with even more prize money. With that being said here is a preview of players to keep an eye on in 2022 across various tours & my Ante post bets for Majors, PGA money List, Race to Dubai, Race to the CME Globe, Champion’s tour money & Top Challenge Tour Grad.
Players to watch on the PGA Tour
Sam Burns rocketed up the OGWR this year starting at 154th & ending in 12th. He keeps getting shorter with bookmakers every week he Tees it up with his amazing form this season which features two wins, two 2nds, two 3rds & three more top 10s. In his last five starts he didn’t finish lower than 14th & if he can maintain this form, he will certainly be challenging for major titles next season. In the wrap around events, he ranks 1st in Stoke gained tee to green & 5th strokes gained overall. He is playing full of confidence at the moment & appears to be going flag hunting every round averaging 5.5 birdies or better a round which has him 5th so far this season. There are obviously the main players such as Rahm & DJ that dont play much after the FedEX is complete but there’s still 140guys to beat every week which all go into the stats leader boards.
After breaking the 2nd place duck last year by winning The Northern Trust I think Tony will now be able to push on in 2022 & win multiple times next season. He had ten 2nd place finishes between his 2 PGA Tour wins along with three 3rds & thirty-one more top 10s which is incredible consistency over 5 years. He will be paying with a new mindset knowing he can get the job done when he’s in contention so more winners will be on the horizon & even a maiden Major? The 32-year-old is known for being one of the biggest hitters on tour, but he was actually only 31st last season in average driving distance with 305 which is still huge & can take apart the majority of courses. I think if Tony can improve his putting stats where he was 91st last season in strokes gained putting he can certainly challenge for his 3rd Tour victory next year & even his 4th.
Marc didn’t have the best on years last season but this season he already has two top 5 finishes in four starts as well as a 3rd place with Jason Day in the QBE shootout. He is currently one of the best putters on the tour in this wrap around ranking 13th & nine of those above him haven’t played as many rounds. This helps his current stroke gained total ranking him 11th. In 16 rounds this year he has averaged over 5 birdies a round & has a scoring average of 69.51 which is why he has had such positive finishes so far. Leishman will be a player I’m keeping my eye on in the run up to the Open after being on the wrong side of the playoff result at St Andrews in 2015.
In the early part of last year Matthew took time away from golf citing mental health issues. A run of Poor weeks, Withdrawals & a Disqualification at the Masters for signing the wrong score on the scorecard he decided to take a break. Which to his credit he has been very open about his struggles something some professionals struggle with. He came back for the US Open & finished 15th showing little signs of rust after a 10-week break. He finished off his season with two top 10s & two more top 20s so showing plenty of promise going into this season. If he continues this form into the new season, he could easily get back to the player who reached no 12 in the world in 2020.
Whilst most people will be looking at Will Zalatoris & Mito Pereira from the Korn ferry tour graduates as the players to watch because of the media hype & world rankings I think Taylor Moore has come in under the radar. He had a cracking season on the Korn ferry Tour winning once & had eleven top 10 finishes. He already has a top 10 on the PGA Tour in his last start of the year at the RSM Classic with an 8th place finish. The Texan has risen to world no 121 & he will certainly break the top 100 next year & maybe even the top 50 by the end of the year. That will certainly be his goal to get a ticket to the masters in 2023. In the wrap around season so far, he has one of the best greens in regulation percentages at 73.61% which will only help low scoring if the putter heats up. The rookie of the year award is a certain possibility for Taylor this season.
Players to watch on the DP World Tour
Min Woo Lee
Min Woo didn’t have the best of starts to the year with a couple of missed cuts but after winning the Scottish Open he has been contending nearly every week. In his last four starts of the year, he finished 16th, 4th,8th & 2nd which has bumped him up to 49th in the world & he gets a Masters ticket for Christmas. Statistically he isn’t most consistent golfer on the tour ranking mid table in nearly every category apart from driving where he ranks as one of the longest on tour. The stats could put you off Min Woo at 1st glance but when he’s on form & a few putts start to drop he is one of the best out there. He will be very keen to add to his family’s major tally after his sister won the Evian Championship last season
Dean Finished 18th on the race to Dubai having played the most European tour events in top 25 players. He pocketed two wins & eight top 10s worldwide in 2021 which will give him a tonne of confidence going into the 2022 season. Dean doesn’t seem to have a weakness in his game gaining stokes in almost every department if anything his accuracy off the tee could be better at less than 50% of fairways but he hits the ball an absolute mile to make up for it. He’s 2nd behind Wilco Nienaber in average distance with 319.62yards. He is one of the few golfers that never requires commentary on a bad shot as you normally hear his reactions closely flowed by some apologise from the commentary team which personally, I’m all for. Get the guy’s mic’d up more. Dean will be another player I will be keeping my eye on as the Open gets closer after a closing 65 at St Andrews this year, if he’s the right number I can see him being tipped by numerous tipsters this year especially when places could be up to 10.
After all the hype around Rasmus it’s his twin brother Nicolai who emerged last season. Starting the year over 400 places behind his brother Nicolai is now ahead in the official golf world ranking by one place. He is 96th & Rasmus is 97th. Nicolai’s rise can be put down to his greens in regulation improvement from 2020. He ranked 151st in 2020 hitting just 62% of green in regulation. Compare that to last season where he has improved that stat to 71.55% which was 13th on tour giving himself a lot more chances of birdies. All his stats when you compare 2020 to 2021 season have improved apart from driving distance which has gone down, however he is now more accurate with the driver. 2022 I am very hopefully he will go from strength to strength & pick up a few more wins.
Richard has spent some time over the winter in Florida to help his game develop onto the next level & already he is seeing results with a win on the Minor golf league tour in a playoff a few weeks ago. Going stateside means he won’t have to go indoors to practice & make do with the cold British conditions we get through the off season. He took some time out in the middle of the year to fix his wrist injury that had been affecting his game which did mean he missed out on key events, but it was the best thing to do to get him fighting fit next season. He had Just one top 10 last season which came at the Dutch open in his European tour debut year which he will 100% improve on next year. He is one of the longest hitters on tour & also has one of the best greens in regulation percentages on tour ranking 14th in 2021 with 71.64%. It was his putting that let him down statistically all year, he ranked 189th in putts per green in reg & also 160th average putts per round. It will certainly be something he is working on in the off season in Florida & UK which if he can sort out, he will be challenging for titles next year.
The majority of people will be putting up Marcus Helligkilde as the one to watch this year with him finishing 1st on the challenge tour but I fancy Frederic LaCroix to go well this year. He finished 5th in the covid hit Joburg open on his Tour Debut which he will take enormous confidence from to go into the new year. In his last six starts he finished in the top 5 in five of those events & a 28th in the other. Form which shot him up the challenge tour rankings finishing 5th in the standings to get his DP World Tour card. He was playing on the Alps tour just a few years ago & now finds himself on the big stage it’s been a huge rise for Frederic. His main aim for the year will surely be to keep the card for following year & crack the top 100 in the world but I think he might pull off a surprise win somewhere down the line to complete both objectives.
Players to watch on the Korn Ferry Tour
Chun An Yu (Kevin Yu)
Chun turned pro in the middle of 2021 & made 11 starts between the Korn Ferry & PGA Tours getting two top 10 finishes on the way, one of those being a playoff defeat. He had a great amateur career ranking as the best in the world at one point getting 4 wins along the way. He holds the 2nd highest scoring average for Arizona state only behind the current world no1 Jon Rahm. Yu is very good friends with fellow national CT Pan who he can rely on for advice when & if he needs it.
Andy will be keen to get his career back on track after missing most of last season through injury. After winning low amateur in the masters the future was very bright for Andy, but his hip injury kept him out of action for over 4 months. The 2019 amateur champion retuned for one PGA tour event at the Sanderson Farm Championship & shot three rounds in the 60s where he finished 51st before entering Korn Ferry Q school. Now fully fit again he will be eager to get a PGA tour card at the end of this season
Choi is probably known now for the guy who turned pro then caddy then pro again. He was on the bag for Sungjae Im’s victory at the 2020 Honda classic. Since the covid restart he has used the money he received from that to reignite his career. The Canadian has earnt his playing rights on the Korn ferry tour for next year & also came 2nd in the 2021 money ranking on the Minor league golf tour racking up an incredible 7 wins. Hopefully he can take the Minor league form over to the Korn Ferry next year.
Players to watch on the Challenge Tour
Christopher Feldborg Nielsen
Christopher won the Nordic Tour order of merit this year to be one of 5 to get a challenge tour card from the Nordic Tour. He won 3 times this year in 23 starts which he will look to build on next year. The world no 366 also had five top 10s & only missed 3 cuts all year so he has been ultra-consistent. He played one event on the challenge tour last year in the Made in Esbjerg where he finished 18th so he is more than capable of producing in a higher quality field.
Robert started the year as an amateur but after winning on week 29 in Austria with the Raiffeisen Pro Golf Tour St. Polten he turned pro. Since turning pro, he has had five starts making every cut & finishing 2nd & 3rd in two events. With this & his excellent performance on the Pro Golf tour as an amateur he claimed 2nd spot on the order of merit granting him a card for this year’s challenge tour. In pro & Amateur events this year he had a total of ten top 10 finishes & made every cut in the events he played in so another very consistent player to keep an eye on next season.
Mitch finished 2nd in the overall standing on the Europro tour pipped on the line by Jamie Rutherford. Mitch was the most consistent player on the Europro tour last year playing in 13 events & making every cut. The lowest he finished was a T23 in the 2nd event he played in. He won twice in the year & also had one 2nd place & two 3rd place finishes. He has climbed into the top 500 in the world during this time & out of the 5 grads from the Europro he is the player I feel will be up there in the Challenge tour events. In 2020 Mitch got the chance to play in the Cyprus events & held the 1st round lead in the Cyprus open which he ended up finishing T34. He looks set for a great year on the challenge tour.
Players to watch on the LPGA Tour
Danielle had her 1st winless year since getting her 1st win in 2017. The 29-year-old still managed to finish 12th on the CME globe due to the ten top 10s in twenty-two starts & just 2 missed cuts. Kang is one of the shorter hitters on the LPGA averaging 250 yards, but she does have one of the best accuracies off the tee & Green in regulation stats. She hits 76.9% of fairways & 71.9% of greens in regulation. Those stats more than capable of getting the job done. As one of the shorter hitters her short game must be in great shape to contend & last season it was. Her putting stats are up there with the best, her putting average she ranked 4th & putts per green in regulation she was 7th. This could be down to the advice she got from a chat with Inbee Park who is the best putter on tour. Also having Butch Harmon to rely on for advice & to keep an eye on her swing can only do wonders to her game so in 2022 she should be back in the winner’s circle.
After winning the LET Race to Costa Del Sol & Rookie of the year in 2021 Attaya went to LPGA Q School & finished 3rd to get her card for the year. The rookie of the year for 2022 should be easily taken care of for Attaya next year it’ll be the CME globe & breaking into the Rolex top 5 she will have her eyes on. She played 19 events in 2021 winning twice & only failed to finish in the top 10 3 times with those finishes a 14th,25th & 48th so she will be looking to bring that dominance over to the LPGA this year. A player I’m very excited to see how she progresses against the best player in the world. A major is a certain possibility this year.
In her rookie season on the LPGA Matilda managed to pick up a win at the Mediheal Championship. She also went over to Europe to get onto the Solheim cup team knowing she needed to win to get a place & she did so under all the added pressure. At the Solheim she was one of the best players going 3-1-0 winning her singles match & one foursomes & one fourballs with Anna Nordqvist. A class performance for a Solheim Rookie. To show how consistent she has been this year she has risen from the world no 220 up to 56. Statically she is ranks around the tour average for the majority of stats, but he Greens in regulation is class, 76.32% is something gofers dream of on tour. When she gets the putter going expect Matilda to be adding to her titles next year.
It was another winning year for Celine this year winning on both the LPGA & LET with the Shoprite Classic & Open De France. Five more top 10s & only three missed cuts have risen her up the rankings up to a career high 27th in the world. She was one of the best scorers last season with the 18th best average score of 70.13, this down to her incredible birdie & eagle stats. She ranked 7th for most eagles (10) & 8th for most birdies (297) on tour last year. A 3rd place finish in the final event of the year was good enough for her to finish 18th overall on the race to CME Globe, I’m sure she will have aspirations to finish in the top 10 this season.
Na Rin An
Na should be the player who come closest to Attaya with the Rookie of the year. She won the LPGA Q School 8 round event with a score of -33 hitting over 40 birdies in the process. She played all last year on the Korean tour missing just 2 cuts. It was a winless year in 2021 however she did have ten top 10s & does have two wins from the 2020 season so she is more than capable of closing a win out when she’s in contention. The world no 61 will be looking to emulate the likes of Inbee park, Jin Young Ko & Sei Young Kim by winning multiple times on the LPGA.
Players to watch on the Ladies European Tour
After finishing in the top 5 on the Race to Costa Del Sol she was invited to play LPGA Q school which she turned down. The other 4 all went & got their LPGA cards so Pia will be in prime position to dominate the LET next year. In 2021 she had two wins & four top 10s which helped her finish 2nd in the Race to Costa Del Sol only behind Attaya Thitikul. The 17-year-old is one of the longest hitters on the tour averaging just short of 280 yards in 2021 & when you combine that with her 75% of greens in regulation you can see why she had such a good year in 2021. If she can improve on her putting stats next season, she should be able to easily add to her two wins she has already & could run away with the Order or Merit title.
She turned pro last year at just 15 years old. She was born in Germany & raised in England but now calls Dubai home. Even at a young age she has already made 3 cuts from 3 starts finishing 26-40-47. Last season she also had great outings in the Let access events with a 2nd & a 7th placed finish. There will be plenty of noise made about her in the years to come but I feel her success will come down to how well she can cope with the pressures of the media at such a young age. One to keep an eye on for progress during the upcoming year.
A player who won twice in 2020 but was a no show in 2021. Now that could be because of Covid or Injury but there nothing confirming why. I’m assuming it’s because of injury as she posted on her Instagram on the 19th august ‘guess who is finally back hitting irons’ with a nice swing video to go with it. Should she return to the LET next year she will be one player who will certainly challenge the race to Costa Del Sol. Having not played for all of 2021 in any official event she has only dropped 100 paces in the Rolex ranking which shows how well she was progressing before she stopped playing. Starting the year in 182 & finishing in 284th means she will still rank higher than nearly all the LET fields.
Players to watch on the Other Tours around the world.
Sadom was in scintillating form in 2021 picking up three wins & three 2nd place finishes. He had a run of five events where he went 1-2-1-1-2. Incredible form for any golf tour. In the 9 events he played this year he finished in the top 8 in all of them. The 23-year-olds average score was 67.18 just 7 clear on the tour average. He was hitting over 70% of fairways & greens which if you have seen how tree lined & tight some of the Thai courses are, you’ll know that stat is very impressive. Hopefully he will get a few sponsors invites next year on the DP Tour to see how good he really can be. However, with the Asian tour now restarted he will want to be topping the order of merit in that first.
The 2-time winner this year on the Korea Tour will look to make a name for himself on the Asian tour. He only missed four cuts in twenty starts with four additional top 10s. His performances this year have jumped him up 400 places to a new high of 300. He is also ranked 5th in the Korea order of merit which shows how well he has played all season.
Denwit David boriboonsub
The 17-year-old won his 1st title as a pro this season just 11 months after turning pro. He won the Chiang Mai Open by 2 shots. Denwitt will look to go from strength-to-strength next year after gaining the confidence from that win to challenge the likes of Sadom Kaewkanjana & Phachara Khongwatmai. In eleven starts last year he had nine top 20 finishes & two missed cuts. In just his 2nd start on the Asian tour he managed a 2nd place finish so he will be a player full of confidence going into the next years golf.
One of the biggest world ranking movers of 2021. He was unranked at the start of 2021 but finishes the year in 283rd. He won 3 times on the development tour in Japan which got him some starts on the main tour where he made every cut in the events he played. The best finish he managed on the main tour was a 4th in the Taiheiyo Masters. Overall, his year stats are very impressive, three wins & five top 10s with just three missed cuts. I have high hopes for Ryo this year.
Amateurs to watch out for this year
Keita will finish the year as the No1 amateur in the world after picking up the Asia pacific Amateur towards the end of the year. It’s been a fantastic season for Nakajima who also won the Japanese amateur & a professional win on the Japanese tour with the Panasonic Open. He is being compared to Hideki already & you can see why. He has a spot in the Open & a spot at the Masters, so I’d be interested to know if he goes Pro after these events or not after already picking up a win on the professional tour. A Player with huge potential in golf.
Ratchanon Chantananuwat. A name that could in 10- or 20-years’ time could have landed Thailand their 1st Men’s Major title. At the age of just 14 he is already 657th in the world rankings ahead of the likes of Kevin Chappell, Oliver fisher & JB Holmes. He has already had three top 10 finishes on the All Thailand tour this year & that includes a 2nd place at Phuket Open. The kid became the youngest player to make a cut on the Asian tour shooting a 65 on the Sunday with a T15 Finish. A Player which if he can keep his head screwed on & not let the fame get to him will certainly go very far in the game of golf.
@golftipster5 Early Major Selections
Masters – Rory Mcilroy 14-1 & Victor Hovland 28-1 Both 6 places
US Open – Patrick Cantlay 25-1 & Jason Kokrak 80 Both 6 Places
PGA – Sam Burns 80-1 6 Places
Open – Jordan Spieth 14-1 & Marc Leishman 55-1 Both 6 Places
PGA Money List – Victor Hovland 20-1, Matt Wolff 66-1, Brooks Koepka 80-1, Billy Horschel 200-1 all 3 places bar Wolff who is 4 places.
Race to Dubai – Min Woo Lee 40-1, Bernd Wiesberger 40-1, Dany Willet 100-1, Dean Burmester 150-1 All 6 Places
Champions Tour Money List – Thongchai Jaidee 150-1 3 Places
Race to CME Globe – Attaya Thitikul 16-1, Danielle Kang 40-1, Pauline Roussin Bouchard 125-1 All 3 Places
Top Challenge Tour Graduate – Frederic Lacrois 16-1 4 places
Good Luck with Bets in 2022