Is Fowler Deserving of Elite Status? cover

Is Fowler Deserving of Elite Status?

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Rickie’s win early in the year at Abu Dhabi was a continuation of his great golf over the last eight months, with four solid victories. The hiccup in the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open is concerning. He is now ranked 5th in the world. Not bad for the “most overrated golfer” per the survey last year. I have always maintained no golfer can be considered over or underrated. World rankings are earned, and speak for themselves. That said, is he in the elite class of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy?





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Is Fowler Deserving of Elite Status?

Elite?

Rickie’s win early in the year at Abu Dhabi was a continuation of his great golf over the last eight months, with four solid victories.

The hiccup in the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open is concerning. He is now ranked 5th in the world. Not bad for the “most overrated golfer” per the survey last year.

I have always maintained no golfer can be considered over or underrated. World rankings are earned, and speak for themselves. That said, is he in the elite class of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy?

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler

photofriday / Shutterstock.com

Evaluations

He held off both McIlroy and Spieth in the Middle East.

Impressive, but still no majors, so, for now, Rickie is still knocking on the door. Spieth’s huge victory at Kapalua keeps him firmly entrenched as number 1. Rory’s limited schedule makes him harder to evaluate.

I remain concerned that his putting will hold him back, but the jury is still out, and his switching this week to a crosshanded grip.

Where is Jason Day? It looks like he had a great off-season, but it included little golf. Rusty at Kapalua, and ill to start the Farmers insurance Open, leaves us wondering what he will do this year. Healthy, he still seems the best too me, with no weaknesses in his game.

Expectations

With the West Coast Swing completed, here is what I expect to see in 2016.

Predicted End of the year World Rankings (current ranking):

1. Jason Day(2)

2. Jordan Spieth (1)

3. Rory McIlroy (3)

4. Rickie Fowler(5)

5. Kevin Kisner (20)

6. Louis Oosthuizen (19)

7. Justin Rose (7)

8. Henrik Stenson (6)

9. Brooks Koepka (18)

10. Justin Thomas (31)

Current Rankings

Here are the current world rankings for all players.

Major Winners:

Masters: Jason Day

U.S. Open: Rory McIlroy

British Open: Louis Oosthuizen

P.G.A.: Brooks Koepka

No Spieth, No Fowler? Hey, these are just guesses. I think each of these players is likely to win a major this year…just not sure which one.

FedEx Champion: Jordan Spieth, but Henrik Stenson seems to have an amazing ability to challenge in this event.

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson

Mitch Gunn / Shutterstock.com

Other Predictions:

Phil Mickelson will challenge in at least a half dozen events (he has already been there in a couple).

He is always a threat in The Masters, and his game could work in The British Open. Unfortunately, I do not see him as competitive in the U.S. Open. He is still going to be my sentimental choice.

Tiger Woods will be a non-factor this year, although I think he will try and make it back. He might even play well the first two days at Augusta. He posted this video of himself swinging on a simulator.

Veterans

One of the grizzled veterans, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Adam Scott or Sergio Garcia will have a great year.

(I wrote this before Snedeker and Scott got their wins).

Patrick Reed, J.B. Holmes, Danny Lee, Bill Horschel, Tony Finau and Daniel Berger will win a PGA event.

Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson will be the biggest disappointments…unless they’re not. (Watson has already proven me wrong at Riviera, so watch out for him at Augusta)

Some “below the radar” Australian will have a great year in the majors.

In Summary:

2016 will be the best, and most competitive year on the PGA since Tiger joined the tour.

I cannot remember a time when so many great players were vying for the top honors. I can only hope that the golf industry becomes a beneficiary of the phenomenal level of talent representing the sport. I can hardly wait.

Worst

Image via Twitter: @BenCadiouJdgolf

Worst

Weekly Observation: Love Rickie Fowler, but those high top shoes? This could be the worst fashion trend ever. More views here.

Paul Laubach is completely unqualified to provide expertise with respect to golf course rankings and design, however, he is a highly opinionated golf addict who believes everyone should be entitled to his thoughts. He has recently released Confessions of a Golfaholic: A Guide to Playing America’s Top 100 Public Golf Courses; now available in hardcover edition. Please visit tophundredgolf.com regularly for more (im)practical information.