Despite the coronavirus pandemic which has greatly upset the golf season, several explosions have marked the year, from Bryson DeChambeau to Dustin Johnson via Victor Perez and Sophia Popov. Retro shot.
Victor Perez, rigor and efficiency
Sixth in the 2020 Race (best performance by a Frenchman since its creation in 2009), Victor Perez, renowned for his rigor, has undoubtedly succeeded in his season. And this, despite the pandemic linked to Covid-19 which resulted in an interruption of the game on the European Tour for more than four months. His figures speak for him: 14 starts, 11 cuts, an average score of 70.64. And a faculty worthy of the best to sublimate itself in major events. Thus, of the four Rolex Series remaining on the calendar, the Tarbais finished second twice (in Abu Dhabi on January 19, then in Wentworth on October 11 at the BMW PGA Championship). Seventh at the DP World Tour Championship less than a fortnight ago and also 14th at the Scottish Open (October 4), the one who lives year round in Dundee, in the north of Scotland, has pocketed in cumulative the modest sum of 1,324,889.68 euros in earnings on these only four tournaments with seven million dollars (minimum) of endowment. In Major, the current 32e world player, only 28 years old, posted encouraging results. 22nd at the USPGA on August 9, he took 46th place in the Masters final in November by playing the first two rounds under par. At the US Open in mid-September, however, he could not cope with the extreme complexity of the course of Winged Foot (New York), missing by three points the cut set at +6. Firmly installed in the two qualifying rankings for the next Ryder Cup (September 24-26, 2021 in the United States), he could become the fourth French golfer to play this biennial competition after Jean Van de Velde (1999), Thomas Levet (2004) and Victor Dubuisson (2014).
Sophia Popov, the beautiful story
Like the Japanese Hinako Shibuno, victorious at the British Open 2019 for her first attempt, Sophia Popov also wrote the history of women’s golf this summer, in a raging weather on the side of the Royal Troon. Aged 27, she arrives in Scotland in the most complete anonymity while her experience in Major tournaments boils down to four attempts with the best result a 57th place in the PGA Championship 2018. Professionally deadlocked, relegated to the Symetra Tour, the second US division, lacking convincing performances, the German of Bulgarian origin even plans to stop her career at the end of 2019. But the health crisis linked to Covid-19, curiously, will to save. She takes advantage of the absences of the best South Korean players on the LPGA Tour and a 9th place signed at the LPGA Classic to win her ticket to the British. Only 304th in the world, she managed to thwart the pitfalls of the Scottish links and its appalling weather to finally win with a total score of -7. Golf sometimes offers stories worthy of Cinderella. This is one of the tastiest …
»READ ALSO – The tragedy of Jean Van de Velde at the British Golf Open
Collin Morikawa, the chef’s surprise
Barely a year after turning professional, the Japanese-born American won the PGA Championship on August 10 with a total score of 267 (-13), the first Major of a season totally shaken by the health crisis. For his very first participation, this young man of 23 years has confirmed here all the good that we thought of him. He remained on 22 cuts in a row on the PGA Tour, approaching the record held by a certain Tiger Woods (25). Very precocious, Morikawa had already opened his counter at the highest level by winning the Barracuda Championship 2019 and the Workday Charity Open on July 17, 2020. By also landing a first Major at a young age, he joined in the legend of boys like Jack Nicklaus, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. What definitively classifies the man … Now it remains for him to confirm and to remain as long as his illustrious elders at the top of the hierarchy. “It’s the dream of my life. As a child, I watched all these players, and I knew that was what I wanted to do (…) We compare a lot the beginning of my career to that of Tiger. But Tiger is a whole different level. That said, when your name is associated with very big ones like Jack, Rory or Tiger, it means that, somewhere, what you are doing is pretty good. ”
Bryson DeChambeau, the Terminator of the fairways
It only took him sixteen major starts to win the 2020 US Open. Bryson DeChambeau, 27, was indeed the king of Winged Foot (New York) last September, one of the most difficult courses in all of the United States. Author of an impressive 274 (-6) final, six strokes ahead of his first pursuer, the Californian of French origin joined in the history books Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, also winners of the US Open after winning the varsity championships (NCAA) and the US Open amateur. Completely transformed (he gained 20 kilos of muscles following a high protein diet), DeChambeau announces a new breed of golfers, able to send missiles over 380 meters thanks to the driver, his favorite “weapon”. Nicknamed The Scientist because of his ability to analyze everything, a hard worker, he also annoys part of his audience, reproaching him in particular for his almost unhealthy slowness of reading on the greens. Cleavage at will, the American did not only make friends in the circuit. But he doesn’t care. If his method of smashing the fairways calls out, this one gives results. Since joining the pros in 2016, he has already posted seven victories on the PGA Tour. One (at least) each year since 2017 …
Dustin Johnson, the green giant
In a 2020 Masters unlike any other, played behind closed doors and in a very unusual month of November, Dustin Johnson demonstrated a very surgical mastery, winning at -20, a new record in Augusta, erasing at the same time tablets the former (-18), co-owned by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, respectively in 1997 and 2015. Winner of the very lucrative FedEx Cup a few weeks earlier, the current world No. 1, who therefore comes from put on his first green jacket, won in Georgia for the 24e times in a pro career launched in 2007. He has especially mastered this bad habit of going through his last Grand Slam lap and letting the victory slip away, as was the case during the US Open 2010 and 2015. It is however in another US Open, in 2016 this time, he opened his counter in Majors, despite a penalty for moving his ball at address. Not frankly the most charismatic, swinging every time or almost distressing banalities at a press conference, this sturdy American makes up for it on the courses where his strike force regularly works wonders. At 36, his “reign” could therefore last a long time, despite a very ambitious new generation (DeChambeau, Rahm, Wolff, Morikawa, Hovland…)!
We also liked:
* The victories of the French Joël Stalter, Romain Langasque and Antoine Rozner between mid-July and early December on the European Tour.
* The third Race (European Tour) won by the Englishman Lee Westwood, 47 years old please, after 2000 and 2009.
* The outbreak on the European Tour of the Danish Rasmus Hojgaard, 19, victorious in December 2019 in Mauritius (in the playoff against Antoine Rozner and the Italian Renato Paratore) then at the end of August 2020 at the UK Championship.
* The great feat of the amateur Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, only 20 years old, who crossed the cut of her first women’s US Open on December 11, 2020.
* The return to the foreground of Victor Dubuisson at Saudi International (February 2), sixth five strokes behind the winner, Graeme McDowell, thanks in particular to two cards of 65 on Friday and Saturday.