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Who will be golf's superstar in 2022?

 

Who will be golf's superstar in 2022?



The PGA Tour's superstar golfer in 2022? Rich Beem on the players capable of a dominant year ahead


Rich Beem looks ahead to the 2022 PGA Tour calendar getting underway at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and picks out some of the golfers set to impress over the year ahead

Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau are both in action of the Sentry Tournament of Champions
Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau are both in action of the Sentry Tournament of Champions

The great thing about golf is you can take most of the world's top 20, certainly the top 10, and break down all the reasons why they're the next player to beat or be the superstar for the year ahead.

There are plenty of guys capable of stepping up their game and making a push to the top, it's just a case of waiting to see who it will be. Sam Burns showed us last year how quickly that progress can be made, jumping from outside the world's top 150 to within a touching distance of the world's top 10.

Could it be Justin Thomas, with Jim "Bones" and all that experience on the bag? Will it be a Brooks Koepka or Bryson DeChambeau that lets their golf do the talking and takes the sport by the scruff of the neck? Maybe it's the year for Dustin Johnson, who, Ryder Cup aside, had a very quiet 12 months?

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It would be no surprise to see any of those names in regular contention in 2022, along with the likes of Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland, but it's Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa that start the year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions as the top two in the rankings.


It's going to be interesting to see how Rahm handles starting the calendar year as world No 1, especially in the run-up to The Masters if he can stay there. He hasn't played since October and there will be more scrutiny on him as the man in that position.

There's no doubt he is an outstanding talent and I'm sure he can enjoy another successful year, possessing a golf swing where very little can go wrong with it, but he's a fiery individual and sometimes lets the small things get at him.

Rahm has held the world No 1 ranking since July, despite not featuring competitively since October
Rahm has held the world No 1 ranking since July, despite not featuring competitively since October

It's also clear that Morikawa is an extraordinary talent that's going to be around for a very long time, with his ball-striking amongst the best I've ever seen. There's a reason why he's the No 1 ball-striker in the game and could be world No 1 very soon.

There's absolutely no need for him to change anything with his swing and he certainly doesn't need any more distance, as he hits it plenty far and can compete with any of the big-hitters in the game - at any venue - with the tools that he currently has.

Morikawa needs a top-three finish in Hawaii to have a chance of leapfrogging Rahm into the world No 1 spot
Morikawa needs a top-three finish in Hawaii to have a chance of leapfrogging Rahm into the world No 1 spot

He won a WGC, The Open, and the order of merit on the DP World Tour in 2021, where we also saw improvement in his chipping and putting, so you would expect to see him enjoying plenty more success over the year ahead.

Beemer's ones to watch in 2022

He might not be featuring in Hawaii this week, but I think a lot of us are keen to see what McIlroy brings to the table this year. He's one of those players that makes the game look too easy when he's firing on all cylinders, so it'll be interesting to see how he builds on a strong end to 2021.

We saw his passion and emotion for the game at the Ryder Cup and then witnessed him winning The CJ Cup in Las Vegas, although he will admit himself that he has got to give himself more opportunities in the big events over the coming months.

McIlroy's victory in Las Vegas was his 20th PGA Tour title
McIlroy's victory in Las Vegas was his 20th PGA Tour title

How's he going to get better on a weekly basis? He won twice on the PGA Tour last year, but he wants to be in the mix a little more often and remind those around him that he's a four-time major champion.

It's certainly about the majors for him and if he's not contending in at least three of the four majors each year, he's going to be disappointed. McIlroy didn't do that in 2021, so will need to keep progressing to get players seeing his name on the leaderboard.

It's not going to happen each and every time he tees it up, but he needs to more often than he is now. He's about as exciting as it comes in the game when he's driving it great, so having more chances to win on a Sunday is exactly what he - and fans of the game - want to see.


Another player I'm really looking forward to seeing develop once he returns later this month is Will Zalatoris, who won the PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year despite starting the season without membership! The putting stroke looks a little iffy at times, but I'm looking to see how he will follow up on what happened last year.

Zalatoris finished runner-up at the Masters and contented in plenty of other PGA Tour events, with the talent clear for all to see, with the only thing missing really being the victory that would have taken him into the FedExCup play-offs.

Will Zalatoris claim a maiden PGA Tour title in 2022?
Will Zalatoris claim a maiden PGA Tour title in 2022?

He accomplished so much last season but didn't reap a lot of the rewards when you think about it, as he wasn't eligible to play in the play-offs so missed out financially and in the rankings. It's not very often you can feel ripped off after making nearly $4million in a season, but Zalatoris could have made it an even more memorable year in those weeks!

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