The world’s finest golfers will have just three opportunities to win a major in 2020 after The Open Championship was cancelled due to the global pandemic. The season has been turned on its head and the first major of the year will be the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park on August 6-9. The US Open will take place the following month, and the Masters will be the final major of the year. Several elite golfers will bid for their first ever major in the months ahead, and these are the players with the best chance of success:
DeChambeau used the three-month hiatus to put on 20 pounds of muscle and he has emerged from the lockdown in monstrous form. He is now the leading player on the PGA Tour in average driving distances, and that could be a game changer. DeChambeau has proved controversial in the past due to his slow play, and his transformation has split opinion – some applaud his dedication in the weights room, while others have called for his long drives to be curbed – but you cannot deny how much more dangerous he looks right now.
The 26-year-old Californian first raised eyebrows when he hit a 367-yard drive at the Charles Schwab Challenge, the first tournament after the lockdown. He secured a T3 finish and was just one shot behind winner Daniel Berger. He then finished T8 at the RBC Heritage and T6 at the Travelers Championship, before winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic by three shots. He has been the most consistent player since the restart, and he is on course to set a new seasonal record for average driving distances.
DeChambeau is now up to seventh in the world rankings, and he looks poised to break into the top five soon. His game will not suit every course, but he could be devastating at Augusta, and he is now the second favourite after Rory McIlroy to win the Masters. DeChambeau is also second in the betting for the PGA Championship, after McIlroy, and third after McIlroy and Brooks Koepka for the US Open.
Rahm is currently the world’s best player without a major to his name. He has just claimed number 1 ranking in the world, and he has been hovering around the top five for years. The Spaniard is still just 25 years old, but he already has four PGA Tour wins and six European Tour wins under his belt. Rahm finished fourth at the Masters at T4 at the PGA Championship in 2018, and then T9 at the Masters and T3 at the US Open last year, and he will be desperate to clinch his first major.
He won the Memorial Tournament in July and he should be well suited to the course at TCP Harding Park in San Francisco, which will host the PGA Championship from August 6. Two of his PGA Tour victories have come in California, and he seems to enjoy playing in the Golden State. Rahm boasts a powerful swing and a very strong all-round game, while he generally looks composed under pressure, so he should join the ranks of major winners soon. He is sure to be among the favourites for the PGA Championship and deservedly so.
Cantlay has quietly established himself as one of the world’s best players over the past year. He secured a second PGA Tour win at the Memorial Tournament in June 2019, breaking into the world top 10 for the first time. That followed an eye-catching T3 finish at the PGA Championship. He was the fourth highest earning player on the tour in 2019, with nine top-10 finishes from 21 starts.
Cantlay has looked impressive since the PGA Tour resumed last month. He finished T3 at his last tournament, the Memorial, T7 at the Workday Charity Open and T11 at the Travelers Championship. It is rare to see him outside the top-20 at any tournament he enters, and he will be dangerous at the majors this year. Augusta looks particularly interesting for Cantlay. He finished T9 there last year, but he has improved considerably since then, and his calm demeanour should stand him in good stead as he vies for the green jacket.
Morikawa announced himself as a force to be reckoned with when he secured victory at the Workday Charity Open last week. He and Justin Thomas finished four shots clear of the chasing pack and went into a playoff, where the 23-year-old held his nerve against his talented compatriot. It was his second PGA Tour win, following his triumph at the Barracuda Championship a year previously.
Morikawa is just 23, but he has already made a significant impact upon the tour. He tied for 14th place on his debut at the 2019 RBC Canadian Open, and went on to make 22 consecutive cuts. It was the second longest streak of made cuts to a professional career, behind only Tiger Woods’ run of 25. He is now ahead of Woods in the world rankings, which is impressive for such a young player. He has only played in one major – he finished T35 in last year’s US Open – but Morikawa has the world at his feet, and he looks perfectly capable of upsetting many of the most famous names in the game this year.
Schauffele has been on the brink of winning his first major for a few years now. He was named Rookie of the Year for 2016-17 after securing two PGA Tour victories, including a one-stroke triumph over Thomas at the Tour Championship. He has since increased his haul to four PGA Tour wins and one European Tour victory, but his performances in majors have gained the most attention. Schauffele has played in three US Opens and finished T5, T6 and T3. He has also secured T2 finishes at both the Masters and The Open Championship, and he is regularly in the mix on the final day.
Now he needs to get over the line and add a major to his haul. His US Open track record is remarkable, and he should be among the leading contenders for victory at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York later this year. Talented players like Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama will be feeling intense pressure to finally end their major hoodoos, but Schauffele looks more likely to get the job done in 2020.
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