Sam Torrance: Golf review of 2017 – Sergio Garcia at the Masters, the meteoric rise of Jon Rahm and who to watch next year

 
Sam Torrance
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The Masters - Final Round
Garcia claimed his first Major title at the 74th attempt when he won the Masters (Source: Getty)

Tournament of the Year

It has been an amazing year for Majors and it is very difficult to choose between the Masters and the Open Championship because of the dramatic finishes at both events.

At Augusta, Sergio Garcia finally broke his Major duck at the 74th attempt, beating Justin Rose in a play-off after coming from behind three times on the final round.

Read more: Garcia targets more Majors after Masters triumph

Three months later at Royal Birkdale, Jordan Spieth triumphed in a fantastic see-saw duel with fellow American Matt Kuchar to claim the third leg of a possible career grand slam.

But I have to pick Garcia’s win at the Masters, which saw him follow in the footsteps of his heroes, Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros.

The Spaniard and Rose are among my favourite players on the circuit and it was wonderful to see them go head to head down the stretch on the Sunday.

Player of the Year

For the special nature of his Masters win and many other highlights in a brilliant year, I’d pick Garcia.

The 37-year-old has been a great supporter of the game throughout his career and has been at the top for so long now.

It was heart-warming to see him put on the Green Jacket after finally achieving his goal in such determined style.

Tommy Fleetwood also deserves a mention for winning the Race To Dubai. But while the Masters was the highlight of Garcia’s year, he also won two more titles – the Dubai Desert Classic and an emotional victory on home soil at the Andalucia Masters – to run Fleetwood close in the European order of merit.

Breakthrough of the Year

World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Round One
Rahm, 23, shot to No4 in the world in his first full season on the main tours (Source: Getty)

Jon Rahm is in a league of his own here. The Spaniard arrived on the scene like a meteor in 2017, winning three events including the DP World Tour Championship.

By the middle of his first full season playing on the main tours Rahm had gatecrashed the top 10 of the world rankings. Now he is No4. No rookie has ever achieved as much as he has this year.

The US college-educated powerhouse from the Basque Country, 23, is a hugely exciting player who has everything in his armoury. And the best news for Europe is that he’s ours.

Other highlights

British Masters - Day Four
Dunne won his first European Tour title at the British Masters with a final round of 61 (Source: Getty)

Young Irishman Paul Dunne had an exceptional year, climbing from 275th in the world to inside the top 80.

The undoubted highlight was a final round of 61 at the British Masters in October that saw the 25-year-old hold off a charge from Rory McIlroy and claim a first European Tour title.

Another of the rounds of the year came from Ross Fisher.

The Englishman carded a record 61 at the Old Course at St Andrews, although that sensational performance still wasn’t quite enough to prevent Tyrrell Hatton defending his Alfred Dunhill Links Championship crown.

Players to watch in 2018

Hero World Challenge - Round Two
Woods made a successful comeback from injury earlier this month (Source: Getty)

Having landed their maiden Majors this year it will be interesting to see how Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka fare with the difficult task of following that up in the next 12 months.

Fellow American Rickie Fowler is another I’ll be keeping an eye on after his incredible 11-under-par final round earned him the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

Dustin Johnson remains world No1 after his fantastic start to the season – will he recapture that form?

No2 Spieth, meanwhile, is closing in on him and will complete the career grand slam if he wins the US PGA Championship.

From a European perspective, I look forward to seeing how Rahm, Rose and Fleetwood continue their fine seasons and how McIlroy bounces back from a disappointing year.

As much as any player, though, in 2018 I’m excited about the return of Tiger Woods.

He looked fit and healthy, and holed lots of birdies in his comeback a fortnight ago. Tiger is most definitely one to watch.

Read more: Sam Torrance: Megastar Tiger's return wonderful news for golf

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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