Golf is a diverse, global sport with professional tours taking place on every continent on the planet. But from Australia to Zimbabwe, the tournaments that all players dream of winning are the four majors namely The Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
We already know the venues that will be hosting the big ones in 2021 so we can already start to build a shortlist of players who can thrive on the major stage next year. If all of the following young starlets continue their upward trend, it will not be long before they are competing for golf’s major prizes.
Jon Rahm, 25, Spain
The old saying “horses for courses” applies well to Rahm. Torrey Pines, the grand old course, will host the 2021 US Open and it is already a fixture on the PGA Tour schedule in hosting the Farmers Insurance Open.
We get to see the best players strut their stuff here on an annual basis and few enjoy the Californian layout quite like Rahm. A winner in 2017 at this track, the Spaniard was also runner-up there in 2020.
Few can boast the credentials of the four-time PGA Tour champion. Tied for third in the US Open in 2019, Rahm will be hoping to go two better at his favorite course next year.
Bryson DeChambeau, 26, United States
Nicknamed the Scientist for his thoughtful approach to the sport, DeChambeau has cooked up a formula that he is hoping will be a recipe for success. He gained 20lb in muscle mass during the PGA Tour’s hiatus in 2020 and that in turn added 50 yards to is average drive distance.
And the result? In the four events played after the season resumed, DeChambeau won the Rocket Mortgage Classic and banked top-10 finishes in the other three!
DeChambeau’s bomb-and-gouge approach won’t work everywhere but Torrey Pines is not protected against such ballistic golf aside from its tree-lined fairways. He could just be a contender in the 2021 US Open.
Joaquin Niemann, 21, Chile
So often in golf’s majors, it is the atmospheric conditions that can play a huge role in how a tournament shapes up. In particular, the wind can be a major factor, particularly on the Links courses of the British Open and the coastal hosts of the US Open.
A cross wind, be it a gentle breeze or a howling zephyr, often puts a premium on course management and Niemann in his short career to date has shown a real fondness for golf with a gust. The Chilean won the Greenbrier Classic in 2019 and other notable performances have come in the wind-affected RBC Heritage and the perennially breezy Texas Open.
Niemann also performs well on Bentgrass/Poa Annua grass, which is native to the west coast of America and so he too comes onto the radar for the US Open. Priced at +14000 in the US Open 2021 golf betting odds, the world number 69 could be a real contender at a three-figure mark.
Viktor Hovland, 22, Norway
As we know, some players become specialists in certain conditions. Hovland has shown a fondness for windy, coastal golf in his young career so far.
The Norwegian’s record at Pebble Beach, in particular, reads well. He won the US Amateur there in 2018 and recorded the lowest score by an amateur in the US Open there in 2019.
The world number 31 has since followed up by claiming his maiden PGA Tour title in the Puerto Rico Open, played in similarly blustery conditions and with renowned short-game coach Pete Cowen now also on the team, you would expect Hovland to go from strength-to-strength. The PGA Championship, hosted by the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, will be his major target.
Matt Fitzpatrick, 25, England
Fitzpatrick has played his formative golf in the UK and on the European Tour. He has a set of skills that are typically different from many of his Stateside contemporaries and he is absolutely at home playing on wide open, exposed courses where wind is the major factor.
That has helped Fitzpatrick to hone his scrambling and chipping game, which are key attributes particularly in the more challenging majors. He will love playing at St Andrews, the British Open host in 2021.
In the 2019 Masters, Fitzpatrick he looked very comfortable in his T21 finish at Augusta National. His right-to-left ball-flight could see him contend for the Green Jacket next year.