We look ahead to an exciting year for British golf with the Ryder Cup in Paris on the horizon
Which Brits Will Have The Best Years In 2018?
2018 promises to be an exciting year for British golf with no less than seven players from these shores inside the world’s top-32 at the time of writing.
The Ryder Cup in September, at Le Golf National in Paris, means there is huge motivation for further success this year.
But first to look at who will excel in the 12 months ahead, we must look at those who starred in 2017.
Justin Rose was the standout performer last year, with a 2nd at the Masters followed by back-to-back Rolex Series wins in late October/November to rise up to 6th in the world. He also captured the Indonesian Masters just before Christmas.
Tommy Fleetwood can call himself Europe’s number one after winning the Race to Dubai title in a season that yielded two trophies, a 2nd place in the WGC-Mexico Championship and a 4th place at the US Open.
Tyrrell Hatton, like Justin Rose, also won in back-to-back weeks, Matt Fitzpatrick won his fourth European Tour title, rookie Jordan Smith won his first, and a resurgent Ian Poulter rose 130 spots in the world rankings.
Ross Fisher was runner-up to Tyrrell Hatton in each of his triumphs and Fisher’s season contained eight top-10s including two top-5s in WGCs.
Paul Casey, at 14th in the world, had another super solid year, with a 6th at the Masters and four other top-5s in big PGA Tour events. He has rejoined the European Tour in a bid to qualify for Le Golf National.
He’ll be hoping to regain that killer instinct that’s seen him win 17 times as a pro, albeit he’s still searching for his first trophy since the KLM Open in September 2014.
The second-ranked Brit, Rory McIlroy, has dropped down to 11th after an injury-plagued 2017 that also saw him change equipment manufacturers and get married amongst other things.
All signs point to a great year for the Ulsterman who will be looking to grab his first win since September 2016 as soon as possible.
Which Brit Will Have The Best Year In 2018?
If Justin Rose can continue his form, and there’s a good chance he will, then he can really begin to cement his legacy.
Rose has the game to win multiple majors, as most of the world’s top 200 or so players do, but more importantly he has the drive, belief and mental game to do so.
I expect another big year for Rose who could push close or beyond his highest position of third in the world.
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Without trying to put too much pressure on Rory McIlroy, most of the golfing world expect him to have a stellar year in 2018 now that he’s fit and healthy.
He lifted the FedEx Cup in 2016 and despite a poor year by his standards, still managed two runner-ups and five other top-7s.
For a man who believes he’s the best player in the world, he won’t like being ranked 11th. Let’s hope he climbs back towards the summit in 2018.
It would be great to see Paul Casey to finally lift another trophy this year, and don’t bet against him.
The Englishman has finished 11th, 5th and 13th in the FedEx Cup over the last three seasons and with the potential of a first Ryder Cup appearance in 10 years on the horizon, he could have a special year ahead of him.
Matt Fitzpatrick became the youngest Englishman ever to win four European Tour titles last year with victory at the European Masters and I expect the Yorkshireman to triumph again in 2018 and seal his second Ryder Cup appearance.
Tyrrell Hatton currently sits 2nd in the Ryder Cup points list and will be hoping for another victory to confirm his place on Thomas Bjorn’s team.
Jordan Smith may also have hopes of making the team, and, although it is unlikely, you cannot bet against the man who won the Order of Merits on the EuroPro and Challenge Tours in successive seasons before wrapping up his maiden European Tour title in his rookie season last year.
I can see the Englishman collecting his second European Tour crown this year.
Ross Fisher reminded us of the game he has last year and will be keen to make his first Ryder Cup appearance since 2012 and win his first European Tour title since 2014 this campaign.
Elsewhere two-time PGA Tour winner Russell Knox will be looking to make a charge back this year after dropping almost 60 spots in the world rankings in 2017, down to 77 from 18.
And wouldn’t it be great to see Ian Poulter lift his first trophy since the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions and make the Ryder Cup team after he missed out with injury in 2016.
Poults showed great signs of resurgence last year and, crucially, looks to have his hunger back.
Poulter was T14th at the Open this year, alongside GM Playing Editor Chris Wood who has struggled since his BMW PGA Championship win in 2016.
The Bristolian was suffering with a wrist injury last year but has the game to qualify for his second Ryder Cup if he stays injury-free.
Don’t forget about Danny Willet either, who, despite struggling after winning the 2016 Masters, has teamed up with Justin Rose’s coach Shaun Foley.
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