Roddy Bisset gives his views on ten golfers to watch in 2015 on the European Tour
By Roddy Bisset:
Ten golfers to watch in 2015
The New Year is upon us, and the European Tour is entering the embryonic stages of this year’s Race to Dubai. Danny Willet leads the way as the curtain comes down on an opening trio of events in South Africa following his victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
With only two out of 47 tournaments completed, Willet faces a long slog to remain there when the Final Series kicks off in October. The fight for the 60 spots in the tour’s big money finale is set to be a fierce one.
Here are ten players who I tip to feature heavily at the top end of this season’s race…
2014 Finish: 1
After a dream season in 2014, Mcilroy will be looking to reach golfing immortality by completing a career grand slam at the Masters in April.
Few people would argue against the reigning Race to Dubai Champion’s chances pulling it off. Despite sharing his time between the PGA and European tour, the Northern Irishman has his sights set on winning every event he enters and will start the race as a clear favourite.
2014 Finish: 2
Stenson was victorious in last year’s finale at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. In a top ten littered with the biggest names in the game, Stenson saw off the field to win by two from Mcilroy, Victor Dubuisson and Justin Rose.
The Swede has consistently come close in the majors and will be looking to add one to his resume in 2015.
2014 Finish: 5
The Frenchman had a matchplay year to remember in 2014, missing out to Jason Day in an epic WGC-World Matchplay Final in his first appearance in the event. He also made a successful Ryder Cup debut at Gleneagles, forming a formidable partnership with Graeme Mcdowell.
After agonisingly missing out by two shots to Stenson at the World Tour Championship, the 24 year-old is sure to feature again this year.
2014 Finish: 4
The man who clinched the Ryder Cup with a stunning wedge to the 15th green at Gleneagles secured his place in the 2014 team with victory at the d + d Real Czech Masters in August.
He competed in 25 events last year (the most out of the top five), and if he does the same again and maintains his form, he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2015.
2014 Finish: 16
Gallacher put in one of the clutch rounds of the year at the Italian Open when he needed to finish 2nd to take the final automatic Ryder Cup spot.
The Scotsman carded a spectacular bogey-free final round of 65 to miss out by just a single shot, but was rewarded by Captain McGinley with a wildcard pick.
Despite not playing his best at Gleneagles, 2014 was a fantastic year for the Scot.
2014 Finish: 7
The German (below) was one of the surprise packages of 2014. After performing consistently throughout the year, Siem forced his way into contention with a big-money win at the BMW Masters.
He took the title in dramatic fashion, chipping in for birdie in a three-man playoff to see off Ross Fisher and Alex Levy.
2014 Finish: 31
Grace ended last season strongly with a 9th place finish at the World Tour Championship and has started this year with a bang, winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
He has proved he possesses the ability to win when big money is on the table, having claimed the Dunhill Links title on the hallowed turf of the Old Course St Andrews in 2012.
2014 Finish: 19
At just 24 years of age, Fleetwood has already clocked up two wins on tour, including the 2013 Johnny Walker Classic at Gleneagles.
Fleetwood was a consistent finisher at the top end of tournaments in the 2014 season and has begun this year in typically solid fashion, taking 14th spot at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City.
2014 Finish: 18
Ilonen finished last season well, contending for the final major of the year in the incredibly tight USPGA Championship, eventually finishing 7th.
He also took the Volvo World Matchplay title in impressive fashion. The Fin saw off the competition of those just out of the Ryder Cup cauldron a couple of weeks before, including a 3&1 victory over Henrik Stenson in the final to take the title.
2014 Finish: 25
After a solid 2014 season, Willett is an early front-runner in the 2015 race. He began the year in sparkling fashion, winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge by four shots.
The man from Sheffield continued his good run of form with a 4th place finish the following week at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
Although not a favourite to remain top of the standings come October, Willet has made a superb start to the year.