The Niggle: Who will be the next American Major winner?October, 2014
Who we fancy from Gleneagles to pick up a big one
The Ryder Cup might have ended up with another European victory (eight in the last 10 in case you had forgotten) but there’s still plenty to like about the Americans’ chances in next year’s Majors.
Among their dozen are plenty of world-class attractions and six Major champions. We pick out who is the most likely to be the next American Major winner.
MT: I know most of the chat was about Patrick Reed but I’ll go with his playing partner Jordan Spieth. It seems ridiculous that he’s still only 21 and only turned pro in 2012.
KH: Spieth was impressive when he had Reed beside him. He had a good start to the Ryder Cup and everyone was surprised when he didn’t come back out for the afternoon on Friday. But seeing how he coped on Sunday makes me wonder whether he’s quite ready to go out there and win on his own. While Reed embraced the occasion, Spieth seemed to wilt when in the spotlight – I wonder if he’s not quite ready and he’d do the same when faced with the final day of a Major?
MT: True, McDowell absolutely ate him up on the back nine – he was three up at the turn – but the Ryder Cup is a different animal to playing for yourself and this was his first match and he was in the top slot.
What most impressed me was how many brilliant shots he hit when it most mattered and the way he kept repeating those shots. He’s cool and he’s already led at Augusta, on his debut this year. Who are you thinking?
KH: Spieth will win a Major eventually because he clearly has the ability, but if we’re asking who will be the next winner from the American team, then I don’t think it will be him.
Bubba is so comfortable at Augusta, and its the first Major of the year, so if you were to play the odds, he would have to be favourite. Sure he didn’t perform at the Ryder Cup, but I’m not sure how much it actually means to him. The guy’s not exactly a renowned team player. Whereas the Masters – now that’s something he really enjoys.
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"Fowler is the obvious one but I’ll ignore him as often it’s tricky to follow up on the Major year that he’s just enjoyed" MT: If you look at who the bookies fancy then Bubba’s your man at 20-1. Though, of course, there is another American who wasn’t in Scotland who is 12-1. Clue: he’s won 14 Majors including four Green Jackets. Next up at Augusta is Mickelson (22) and Fowler and Spieth (both 33s).
Fowler is the obvious one but I’ll ignore him as often it’s tricky to follow up on the Major year that he’s just enjoyed.
If I was allowed a second pick I’ll go with Hunter Mahan. Yes, yes we all know his short game can still be a bit wonky but it’s 10 times better than it used to be and he’s a proven winner. And his Major record is slowly coming together.
And your second pick would be…
KH: Fair enough with Hunter Mayan, though I’m not sure if his short game’s improved enough yet. And yes Fowler would be the obvious choice because, like Spieth, he will win a Major at some point.
I’m tempted to go with Jim Furyk. He is always going to be up there in the top five of any tournament and if everything comes together for him and he manages to shave a few shots off, he could easily find himself enjoying one last day in the sun.
But assuming that Furyk continues to be Mr Average, and Fowler, Spieth and Mahan have off-days and Tiger doesn’t come back on top form and my first pick Watson doesn’t win. Assuming all that happens, then why not Jimmy Walker?
He was impressive during the Ryder Cup and 2014 was his strongest year so far. So I’m going to say he’s going to continue that form into next year and grab one of the big prizes.
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