After a heavily disrupted 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the golfing world, much like the rest of sport in general, was keen to bounce back strong in 2021 with the resumption of tournaments and international travel.
As we wave goodbye to another year and welcome in 2022, it’s time to take stock and reflect once again.
We sat down with eight times Ryder Cup player, three times Ryder Cup captain, and Golf Care ambassador Bernard Gallacher to chat through the highs and lows of 2021, what he hopes to see in 2022, and the key players to look out for.
Here’s what he had to say…
Bernard’s 2021 golf highlights
- The European team’s performance at the Solheim Cup was superb. The competition took place at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, and Europe’s win was only the second time they’ve managed such a feat on American soil. Captained by the outstanding Catriona Mathews, the entire Europe team were stars – but a special mention must go to Leona Maguire. Maguire won 4.5 points out of a possible 5, setting a new rookie record and inspiring her team to victory in the process.
- Hideki Matsuyama clinched success at the Augusta Masters, becoming the first Japanese major winner and recipient of the coveted Green Jacket.
- Phil Mickelson became the oldest winner of a major at 50 years and 11 months. His victory at the USPGA at Kiawah Island set a new record.
- Spanish golfer Jon Rahm won his first ever major at the US Open at Torrey Pines.
- American Collin Morikawa, who finished number one golfer on the European Tour, impressively held off a late challenge from Jordan Spieth to win the 149th Open at Royal St George’s by two strokes. The tournament was blessed with glorious summer weather, which, in a way, made up for the tournament’s postponement in 2020.
- Patrick Cantlay claimed record winnings on the PGA Tour, winning the year-ending Tour Championship and a cheque for a whopping $15m in the process.
- Bryson de Chambeau continued to impress. His driving and prodigious length off the tee makes him the consummate showman and one of the most-watched golfers in the world.
- Young Danish twins Rasmus and Nicolai Hojgaard both won tournaments in successive weeks. Rasmus won the Omega European Masters at Crans sur Sierre in Switzerland. A week later, his brother Nicolai won the Italian Open at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome – the venue for the 2023 Ryder Cup. The fact these two are only 20-years-old makes their achievements all the more impressive.
- At age 48, British golfer Richard Bland became the oldest first-time winner on the European Tour, winning the Betfred British Masters at the Belfry.
What didn’t go so well for golf in 2021?
- One of the year’s biggest disappointments was Europe’s whopping 10-point Ryder Cup defeat at Whistling Straights, Wisconsin. COVID travel protocols meant very few European supporters were present, and the huge partisan home support spurred on the American side. The influence of the crowd at the Ryder Cup can never be underestimated.
- Although for most mere mortals, being ranked eighth in the world would be a cause for celebration, for Rory McIlroy, it shows room for improvement. McIlroy began 2021 ranked in fourth, but after a long season and just two wins, he finds himself in eighth (at the time of writing). McIlory measures his success in terms of majors, so with a tied-7th place finish in the US Open his best major result of the season, he’ll be marking 2021 as a disappointment in his books. However, I’m confident it won’t be long before we see him back winning majors again.
- The injuries Tiger Woods sustained in his car accident are so severe, I’m not sure we’ll ever see him compete in a major again. He’s not getting any younger either, which is a sad thought. However, you can never completely write him off.
Looking forward to golf in 2022
- Hopefully, 2022 will treat us to a full schedule for the new DP World Tour. Although it got off to an inauspicious start in 2021 with the opening three events in South Africa not counting on the Official Money List due to COVID, we must keep optimistic for the new year.
- The PGA Tour will continue to move forward despite the perceived threat of a Super League from Greg Norman and his wealthy cronies.
Top golfers to look out for in 2022: Bernard’s picks
- Jon Rahm – the world number one seemingly has no weaknesses in his game. He’ll continue to impress.
- Collin Morikawa – not the most powerful of players but a very impressive straight iron player with a good temperament.
- Dustin Johnson – long and straight off the tee and a good putter; it’s only a matter of time before Johnson adds to his two majors.
- Justin Thomas – a very impressive player in every department.
- Victor Hovland – already a winner on both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour at just 24-years-old, this Norwegian star has the potential to clinch a major.
- Sam Burns – one of the PGA Tour’s rising stars.
- Jordan Spieth – after a couple of years in the doldrums, we saw a dramatic improvement to Spieth’s game in 2021. He moved from 82nd in the World Rankings up to 14th.
- Tyrell Hatton – feisty player who plays a good game and has a strong determination to succeed. Hatton is one to watch for sure.
- Matt Fitzpatrick – undoubted potential and ready to break through and secure a win on the PGA Tour.
- Lee Westwood – still plays a good game and remains focused. Westwood turned down the chance to be Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain so as not to be distracted from his main goal of winning tournaments.
- Tommy Fleetwood – would be the first to admit he had a difficult season on the PGA Tour in 2021, finishing outside the top 125. However, he’s simply too good to not bounce back.
- Justin Rose – injuries and relocating back to the UK hampered Rose’s 2021 season, but I trust him to bounce back strong.
Many thanks to Bernard for giving us his thoughts. Who are you backing for golfing success in 2022?
Specialist golf insurance from Golf Care
At Golf Care, our golf insurance includes Public Liability up to £10m, Equipment cover up to the value of £7,500, and much more. Better still – it’s also underpinned by our very own ‘Ripe Guarantee’, which promises great cover and exceptional service at unbeatable prices.
Click on the banner below to learn more about our golf cover and get an instant online quote today.