With a new year, and decade, upon us europeantour.com has made its predictions ahead of what promises to be another exciting 12 months on the European Tour.
Jon Rahm to defend Race to Dubai title
Rahm’s consistent form in 2019 earned the Spaniard three European Tour victories, including two Rolex Series titles.
His first win came at July’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – his second triumph in three years at the historic national open – before claiming his home open, the Mutuactivos Open de Espana, and finishing off a remarkable campaign with victory at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
The last of those titles also earned him the title as European Tour Number One – the first Spaniard to do so since Seve Ballesteros in 1991 – as he topped the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex.
If the 25-year-old can continue this form into 2020, Rahm will be the hot favourite to retain the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex at the end of the campaign.
Rory for World Number One
It’s safe to say Rory McIlroy enjoyed a stellar year in 2019, picking up three victories on the US PGA Tour – at the Players Championship, the RBC Canadian and the Tour Championship, as well as a World Golf Championships triumph at the WGS-HSBC Champions - en route to winning the season-long FedEx Cup.
Add to that runner-up finishes at the Omega European Masters and the WGC-Mexico Championship, top fives at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational and season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, and a top ten at the BMW PGA Championship, and it’s been another remarkable campaign for the Northern Irishman.
His form in the Majors was impressive too. McIlroy had finished tied 21st at the Masters Tournament, tied eighth at the US PGA Championship and tied ninth at the U.S. Open. Should the Northern Irishman continue this strong form into 2020, it wouldn’t come as any surprise to see him leapfrog Brooks Koepka and become World Number One once again.
Robert MacIntyre to become world’s best left hander
Robert MacIntyre burst onto the European Tour scene in 2019 as he picked up the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award at the close of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. The Scot accumulated seven top tens in 2019, including three second place finishes at the Betfred British Masters, Made in Denmark presented by FREJA and Porsche European Open.
However, it was at the closing three Rolex Series Events where the 23-year-old really came into his own, finishing tied fourth at the Italian Open, tied seventh at the Turkish Airlines Open, tied eighth at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player and tied 14th at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
It’s fair to say the Oban native’s confidence is flowing, and he currently sits 64th in the Official World Golf Ranking. If he is to become the best left-handed golfer in the world, the Scot will have to catch multiple Major Champion Bubba Watson, who currently sits in 47th in the world rankings. We see no reason why Bob can’t overtake him this year.
Højgaard to win Rookie of the Year
Following a dream start to life on the European Tour we’re backing 18-year-old Rasmus Højgaard to continue his fine form and become the first Dane since Thomas Bjørn in 1996 to claim the coveted title.
In just his second season as a professional, and in his fifth European Tour start, the teenager held his nerve in a three man play-off by carding an outstanding eagle on the third extra hole to triumph at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
Højgaard, whose twin brother Nicolai is also a promising young player having finished as a runner-up at last year’s KLM Open, will have fierce competition from a number of outstanding prospects who qualified from the European Challenge Tour last year.
If we get anything close to last season’s Rookie of the Year race, we should be in for a thriller.
Austria to have its first Ryder Cup player
Austria has never been represented in The Ryder Cup, but we’re counting on that to change in 2020.
Following an extended injury break, Bernd Wiesberger returned to action last year and enjoyed the finest season of his career.
Three victories. Two in the Rolex Series. Six top tens. Third in the Race to Dubai. An outstanding campaign which saw the 34-year-old rise to 21st in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Also very much in the race to qualify for Team Europe this year is Matthias Schwab. No one was more consistent than the 24-year-old in 2019, with Schwab recording ten top ten finishes on the European Tour – more than any other player.
Although a European Tour victory has so far eluded Schwab, we can see a first win around the corner – and potentially a Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits too.