As the 2015 year quickly fades away, here’s our weekly look at things we noticed in the world of fantasy golf, for the week ending December 6, 2015. It was highlighted by tour de force performances by Marc Leishman and Bubba Watson, the continuation of one great run and the end of another and a new rising force in the golfing world.
1) Marc Leishman Wins at Nedbank
In a dominating performance, Australia’s Marc Leishman beat a select, but high quality field at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. The 32-year old had rounds of 68-68-66-67 to beat Sweden’s Henrik Stenson by six shots and third place finisher Chris Wood by 10.
It was Leishman’s first top 10 since he lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson at the 144th Open Championship at St. Andrews in July, and continues a trend of playing well on quality golf courses and in big events. His other top finishes last year included Top 10’s at the Memorial and at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play event.
The one thing lacking in Leishman’s career to this point has been consistency and hopefully this win will be a springboard for a very successful 2016. He has to be considered a favorite to be the next Australian to win a major.
2) When Bubba is Good, He’s Unbeatable
Two time Masters champion Bubba Watson showed again on the weekend, that when he feels comfortable at a venue, the rest of the field is in trouble. The result of Watson’s comfortable feeling this time was a three-shot victory over red-hot Patrick Reed at the 2015 Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
Bubba’s weekend included a spectacular 63 on Saturday that gave him control of the tournament. An easy looking 66 on Sunday sealed the deal.
The 4th ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking starts 2016 on a roll and it will be hard to look past him when he returns to his favorite place in the golfing universe, Augusta National, in April.
3) Reed Continues Amazing Run
Although he couldn’t catch Bubba, Patrick Reed’s runner-up finish continued an amazing run for the young American. The 25-year old Texan extended his streak of consecutive Top 10 finishes to six since the Tour Championship. In that stretch, Reed had two second place finishes and a third. The only think lacking was a win.
That next win could come in his next start, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, where he is the defending champion. Up to a career high 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking, the San Antonio native has the game and the self belief to be mentioned with the “Big 3” and will be looking to stake that claim in 2016.
4) Scotty’s Win Streak Snapped
With a T10 at the Hero World Challenge, former world number one, Adam Scott, failed, for the first time since 2000, to win a golf tournament in a calendar year. For 14 straight years, the 2013 masters Champion at one at least one world wide event, an amazing streak by any standard.
2016 promises to be an interesting season for 35-year old Australian. Facing an avalanche of young competition and being one of the players directly affected by the anchoring ban, Scott’s return to the winners-circle isn’t a foregone conclusion. Early results using the conventional putting style indicate the ability to go low is still there, but questions about whether he can string together the four solid rounds it takes to win an event is still open for debate. Definitely a player of interest heading into the new year.
5) Young English Players Among Those to Watch in 2016
For the past several years, golf success from England has been dominated by five names – Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Luke Donald. And while those players are still capable of performing with the world’s elite, a new generation of English players has risen to join them among the game’s best.
Twenty-somethings Danny Willett (28 years old), Chris Wood (28), Andy Sullivan (28) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (21), are all ranked in the Top 50 players in the world, with Willet the second highest-ranked Englishman (after the #7 ranked Rose) at number 19.
Looked for the new generation of English golfers to make some major noise in 2016.