It’s a New Year and that means one thing – a new season of golf. The 2010 PGA Tour season kicks off this week at the SBS Championship at Kapalua, the European Tour season started a few weeks back, the Champions Tour starts its season next week, the Nationwide Tour kicks off in the first week of February and the LPGA will ramp up its season the third week in February.
With a stellar year in 2009 including 23 wins worldwide, Nike Golf athletes look to continue their winning ways in 2010. Here is my list of athletes to watch this year:
ATHLETES TO WATCH IN 2010
Paul posted three wins in 2009 (two on the European Tour, one on the PGA Tour), but a rib injury sidelined him for a good part of the second half of the season. We hope Paul has made a full recovery and has a stellar year in 2010, starting with this week’s SBS Championship.
The Champion Golfer of the Year posted 4 top 10 finishes in 2009 — look for Stewart to have another fine year and challenge for more than one title this season.
With a standout performance and T2 finish at last year’s U.S. Open, David can build on the confidence he gained from challenging for major championship again. Hopefully we’ll see David get back to world-class form and contend for a title in 2010.
The U.S. Open champion now has the premier player status that comes with winning a major championship. With 6 top 10’s in 2009 Lucas hopes to convert his solid play into additional wins this year.
With the exception of his participation on the victorious U.S. President’s Cup team, 2009 was a somewhat disappointing year for Anthony. He looks to rebound in 2010 and (in Tiger’s absence) be one of the premier players on tour this year. With multiple wins and a standout performance at the Ryder Cup in 2008, Anthony looks to get back to the top of the leaderboard this season and be on the U.S. roster at Celtic Manor in October.
Justin posted six top 10 finishes in 2009, and with a T2 at the season ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic he looks to take that momentum into 2010. Look for Justin at or near the top of more than one Sunday leaderboard again this season.
With two top 10 finishes in 2009, look for this standout from Venezuela at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday at least once in 2010.
The 2009 Q-school medalist looks to lead the 2010 rookie class and establish herself as one of the future stars of the LPGA Tour.
With one win and 12 top 10 finishes in 2009, look for Suzann to continue her strong play and be in contention on Sunday more than once in 2010.
After breaking through with her first tour victory at last year’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational and her strong play at the Solheim Cup, Michelle seems comfortable with success at the professional level. Look for her at the top of more than one Sunday leaderboard next year.
With two wins at the end of the 2009 Champions Tour season, look for John to continue his momentum and possibly win early in 2010.
With two wins in the second half of the 2009 European Tour season (his second and third career victories), Simon now has the confidence that comes with winning multiple times. Look for him to contend again in several events in 2010.
With a win under his belt already in the 2010 season and contending in the second event, Pablo will try to notch multiple victories this year.
After his win at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup with brother Eduardo at the end of last season, Francesco looks to break through with a solo victory on the European Tour in 2010.
Charl finished second in the first event on the 2010 schedule, and with several close brushes with the lead in 2009, look for Carl to break through with a win this season.
Notably absent from the list above is Tiger Woods — after off-course issues made front page headlines at the end of 2009, his taking an indefinite leave from professional golf leaves us wondering when we will see him on the course again. Until we get an answer to that question, we will be closely watching the rest of Nike Golf’s athletes to see who will rise to the top and continue Nike Golf’s winning ways in 2010.