Five players to avoid in the new year
Are Sergio's inner demons causing a decline in the Spaniard's game?
"Donald has never been one of the longer hitters, placing him at a permanent disadvantage to virtually all the big-names. Secondly, he just seems too nice, without a killer instinct, rarely covering himself in glory when chances to win have arisen."
Five big names, five to get against in the golfing competitions to come. Paul Krishnamurty has the details.
Nobody was more disappointing in 2009 than Garcia. He began the year widely tipped to challenge Tiger Woods' domination of the world rankings, yet ended it winless and outside the top-10. It may be time to give up on the great Spanish hope, who is in danger of being swept aside by a legion of younger challengers.
To reach the very top of this sport, one needs more than just natural ability, and Garcia looks particularly vulnerable when it comes to mental fortitude. He's been plagued by putting woes since his teenage years, and shows no sign of improving in that respect. Equally, his temperament under pressure looks increasingly suspect, which is the last thing needed by punters considering taking almost permanently short prices about Garcia.
He deserves his place in the golfing hall of fame, but as each year goes by it seems more certain that we'll never see the best of Ernie Els again. Whilst retaining the long game brilliance and magical touch around the greens that won three majors, Ernie is another player whose weaknesses appear to have got the better of him.
Ernie's problems are not dissimilar to Garcia's. On the one hand, while his putting is not in quite the same state of crisis, Ernie is not the force he once was on the greens. On certain courses where he was once a banker to contend, such as Augusta, he now looks an also-ran because the tricky greens have got the better of him. More worryingly, he shows strong signs of having lost his bottle, most recently illustrated by a disastrous finish to the HSBC Champions Trophy.
Though it seems incredible to say about a man who was once the epitome of 'cool under pressure', Goosen also appears to have lost his nerve. During the last six months of 2009, Goosen six times threw away final day favouritism in disturbing fashion.
On the positive side, one could argue that at least he gave himself six chances to win, but signs of decline have been there for some time now. Even before these recent temperament problems, Goosen's putting has been deteriorating for a few years.
It seems a long time since Donald was hailed as the British golfer most likely to win a major. He remains in the world's top-30 and will doubtless accumulate a personal fortune throughout his career, but Donald's progress has stalled. Whereas he was once always one of the main European candidates in the US majors, Luke barely rates an afterthought nowadays, especially compared to emerging stars Kaymer, Fisher and McIlroy.
Two obvious weaknesses spring to mind. Firstly, Donald has never been one of the longer hitters, placing him at a permanent disadvantage to virtually all the big-names. Secondly, he just seems too nice, without a killer instinct, rarely covering himself in glory when chances to win have arisen.
Soren may be one of the most improved European players over the last couple of seasons, but he remains a player to oppose in the outright market. Its hard to argue with his consistency, and a reliable long game has started to pay some dividends in the majors, with career best efforts in the US and British Opens this summer.
However because of that consistency, Hansen usually rates amongst the favourites on the European Tour. That may be justifiable from a place betting perspective, but it certainly doesn't reflect an appalling win ratio. He has won just twice this century, only once in the last seven years, despite enjoying dozens of good opportunities. As seen several times in 2009, he is very much one to lay at a short price on the final day.