2020 in pro golf: The five stories that defined the year

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 21, 2021 16:32

For most of us amateur golfers, the biggest issue of 2020 was struggling to get onto a course for several months throughout the year. Even when the courses opened, stringent measures put in place made it difficult to get a tee time.

However, on the professional circuit, it was – more or less – business as usual. Golf was one of the first professional sports to restart again back in June 2020, and we were treated to relentless action right up until the traditional offseason period in December.

But beyond golf’s brief hiatus from television screens and a lack of fans on the courses, what were the stories that defined the year? We have picked out the most intriguing five below:

DeChambeau’s transformation

Bryson DeChambeau’s muscle gain and emphasis on putting power off the tee ahead of accuracy has been the most talked about subject in golf in 2020. It’s intriguing because it transcends the pro ranks, with many of us wondering whether sacrificing accuracy for power could help our scorecards. It is, of course, a little more complicated than that, and reading Bryson DeChambeau’s profile will tell you that “The Scientist” studies every part of his game. The jury is still out on whether it’s a revolutionary tactic or not, but that’s why we haven’t been able to keep our eyes off him in 2020.

Bryson De Chambeau at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Dustin Johnson’s perfect Masters

It might seem like hyperbole, but Dustin Johnson may have played the greatest four rounds of golf in modern times at Augusta in November. After all, he did set the Masters record with his 20 under par victory. We can debate whether it was the greatest or not, but it was definitely a masterclass. Johnson glided around Augusta seeming not to have a care in the world, making shot after shot with effortless ease. When the American is “in the mood”, he has always been fantastic to watch – but this was his best-ever performance.

Popov lights up Royal Troon

Women’s golf now, and one of the best underdog stories of the sporting year. 27-year-old German golfer, Sophia Popov, took the Women’s Open at Royal Troon, winning by two strokes. Remarkably, Popov was placed outside the world’s top 300 at the time. Popov has been playing on the LPGA Tour for several years, but rarely made an impact. That was all set aside at Royal Troon in August when she went seven under for the weekend, remarkable given that she was only one of four players to finish under par for the tournament.

American dominance continues

Given the results over the last few years, it might not surprise you to learn that 11 of the world’s top 15 players at year-end 2020 are American. But the dominance has been incredible. American’s took all three Majors in 2020 (The Open was cancelled), and 12 of the last 14. More pertinently, it seems there is every chance that dominance will continue going into 2021 and beyond when you consider the American young guns – Collin Morikawa (23), Matthew Wolff (21) – have shown their mettle in Majors this year.

Hope for The European Tour

Some have said the European Tour has been declining in quality in recent years. The money just isn’t there, and that’s something that will always impact the players you can attract to the tournament. In November 2020 the PGA Tour took a minority stake in the European Tour’s media production group. As ESPN puts it, we are going to see a “more unified golf schedule around the world”, and the two tours will be more “partners” than rivals. It might be the first step in changing the European Tour irrevocably, but it might also lift up the quality levels in some of your favourite tournaments.


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick January 21, 2021 16:32
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