The Major Players In 2011- Those Who Will Contend In The Majors
2010 was an incredible year in golf and an incredible year in the four biggest tournaments—The Majors.
2011 will have a lot to live up to but I have high hopes that it can—even in a non Ryder Cup year, which I suspected led to even more brilliant play and competing than normally this year.
To make this easy for people to read I am going to split it into "nationality sections" of golfers who I believe can challenge in majors this season.
First of all, those from England who can challenge:
Lee Westwood- Well where better to start than the recently crowned number one.
Incredibly Lee is yet to win a major, but I just have a sneaky feeling 2011 could FINALLY be his year. Over 2010, he became an even better player and finished second at two Majors (The Masters and The Open) and became one of the players other golfers fear.
To me he proved he could tame Augusta and if it hadn't been for the performance of Phil Mickelson, he would surely have been putting on a Green Jacket.
He is also a superb links player and I fully expect to see him challenging at The Open at Royal St Georges.
Ian Poulter- I love watching this guy play all the time. His passion at the Ryder Cup in October was brilliant and transformed the whole team on the final day. He has great ability and should be a player who is up there all the time, but for some reasons just isn't.
If he gets his head together and everything in his game clicks (like it has done at the Ryder Cup in 2008 and 2010) then he could be lifting his first major.
Paul Casey- Like Poulter, he has the game to win Majors but it just hasnt happened yet. He has the perfect game for links golf and if it hadn't been for one horrific hole at St Andrews this year, he might have won the Open.
A possible contender at all four majors.
Luke Donald- A player who embodies consistency. He hasn't done as well in Majors up until now. However, if he can find the accuracy off the tee he can challenge at the first Major of the year at Augusta where he has done well before.
Ross Fisher Although the 2009 Open was all about Tom Watson's fairytale (although we shouldn't forget a great win by Stewart Cink), this man also produced some great golf.
If he hadnt gone into the final day with the pressure of his wife about to go into labour, then I feel he would have lifted the Claret Jug. A nice man and a great ball striker, I feel he has the game to compete at any course.
Rest of Europe
Martin Kaymer- This German is my favourite golfer at the moment. And unlike everyone in the "English" list, he has proven he can win a Major with his victory at Whistling Straits in the 2010 US PGA tournament.
Also, the winner of the Race To Dubai, this man will become a multiple Major winner and I actually expect more than hope that he will win a Major in 2011, possibly even defending his PGA title.
Graeme McDowell- Like Kaymer he's another major winner and he was only just pipped by him in the Race To Dubai. He was also the hero of the Ryder Cup team, holing the winning putt on the historic Monday at Celtic Manor.
His performance at Pebble Beach to win the US Open was a joy to watch and he has the mental and natural ability to be right up there again at St Georges or Congressional.
Rory Mcilroy- Still only 21, he has already finished in the top 20 of all the Majors.
His 63 at St Andrews in the first round last year was simply sensational but sadly he fell away with an 80 in the 2nd round. He is arguably the best golfer in the world when he tears up a course and could do that anywhere. I think he will win a Major in 2011.
Padraig Harrington Europe's most successful golfer of the last 10 years with three major wins to his name.
However, sadly he has been off the boil for a while now which I put down to a baffling decision to remodel his swing after those Major wins. He has shown brief signs of form towards the end of the year and due to his brilliant mental tenacity I simply cannot rule him out, and if the weather is bad in Kent in July, he will win the Open again.
The Molinari Brothers- Perhaps cheating here slightly, by including both of them when the limit is five per category but they have been the revelations of 2010.
Both have great ability in all aspects of the game and in particular the U.S. course suit their game, so I could see one if not both of them challenging at the U.S. Open or the PGA.
Tiger Woods- If I am being honest, I could have written a whole article about his chances in 2011's Majors.
He is back in some sort of form and everyone has forgotten he did have two top-five finishes in the first two Majors of 2010. He will still be feared by 95% of the field and loves Augusta where he has won four times.
Im going to hold back and say he will be in contention there, but I cannot say about the others.
Phil Mickelson- Another American like Tiger who is struggling badly with his form and hasn't showed me anything to suggest he could win a Major but he is on this list because of his experience.
He loves Augusta and his performance last year to win his third green jacket was simply sensational. A golfer who can blow fields away and is surely due an Open performance!
Dustin Johnson- A man that really should have won a Major in 2010, especially when he blew it at Pebble Beach.
He is a superb ball-striker and has the game to destroy Augusta or any U.S. course. If he can hold his mental state together then he will be a Major winner sooner rather than later.
Matt Kuchar- The leading money winner on the PGA tour this year, so he simply must be in this list.
He has a great all-around game and has the mental ability, as he showed in the Fed Ex Cup play-off victory against Martin Laird. A real rising talent who will contend in 2011.
Jim Furyk A golfer who I don't particularly like watching as I find him boring but another American who has a great all-around game and really should have won more than one Major (the 2003 US Open).
He could challenge at all four majors next year if he gets his A-Game on.
Rest of the World
Ernie Els- Perhaps a surprising choice to start with, but he came back in 2010 and his injury woes seem to be behind him.
He won the U.S. Open in 1997 at Congressional so memories might inspire another Major victory. A player whose name still strikes fear into many fellow golfers, he will contend in 2011.
Retief Goosen- Another South African who had a good 2010 and is one of the best putters in the game ( a key to any Major victory). He can contend at Augusta although he might not be long enough and also at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
Geoff Ogilvy- Although he didn't have a great year this year, he is a superb all-around player who is a Major winner, having won the 2006 U.S. Open, and can surely challenge next year if his game is ticking.
Has the mental game to challenge anyone.
Camillo Villegas- Blows hot and cold, but has great natural ability but when he blows hot he could beat anyone on his day.
Hasn't done as well at Majors as I thought he would have this year, but his putting is outstanding.
KJ Choi- Maybe a surprise final choice, but he has a superb record at the Masters, coming close to winning on occasions and also has a good record on many Open courses, where I often wake up on the first day to find him leading the championship.
Here's to a great four Majors and who knows, maybe my predictions could win you some money!
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