It was a year when none of the top stars had a sustained run like Jordan Spieth last year, but did extremely well in patches to ensure they remained in the elite category of the world rankings.
Let’s just take a quick look at how 2016 was for the top-five players in the world. Actually, I will make it top-six because Hideki Matsuyama’s year was as just as sensational as the others.
Jason Day will end 2016 as the world No1, but after a superb start to the year, he struggled with his injuries and did not play at all in the last quarter. The fact that he missed only one cut — and that too at the beginning of the season at Torrey Pines — shows how much he is in control of his golf right now. I won’t be surprised if he wins early in 2017.
Rory McIlroy had a consistent year with 14 top-10s in 22 starts, but two missed cuts in the majors would have left him frustrated. A couple of late wins and the FedEx Cup triumph on the PGA Tour would have lifted his spirits no end. His desire to win the Masters and complete his grand slam will surely fire him up early in the year.
Dustin Johnson had a stunning middle half of the year that included his first major win at the US Open, but I honestly thought he should have had won much more than three tournaments considering the form he displayed.
Henrik Stenson was one of the most consistent players during the year with 13 top-10s, and if not for the injury niggle that prevented him from competing in the FedEx Cup, it could have been an even better 2016 for the Swede. His first major win at The Open, the silver at Rio Olympics and the European Tour Race to Dubai crown were the highlights and I expect him to continue performing well next year.
Spieth started the season by decimating the PGA Tour’s winners-only field in Hawaii and looked like continuing his form into another year, but his momentum was broken by the mishap at the Masters. Three wins and 11 top-10s in 24 starts is an excellent record for any player, but not when you compare it to Jordan’s 2015.
Matsuyama was unstoppable after the FedEx Cup, winning four times in his last five starts. If only he showed half of that form during the regular PGA Tour season, he would have been the No1 player in the world by far. Having said that, I won’t be surprised at all if the hard-working Japanese goes on to achieve that status in 2017.
Outside the top-six, the two biggest talking points of the year in men’s golf was the Ryder Cup and the return of Tiger Woods.
There is no doubt in my mind that the best team won in Hazeltine, and I think the American triumph will spice up the 2018 competition when Thomas Bjorn leads the Europeans in France.
As for Woods, he just played one tournament throughout the whole year, but the fact that he played through 72 holes without pain was a massive gain, as also the fact that he made more birdies than the eventual winner Matsuyama. From what little I saw of him, I am excited about what he does in the new season playing a full schedule.
Jeev Milkha Singh is a four-time champion on the European Tour.