Somebody mentioned to me the other day that in order to usher in 2020 with a sprightly, fresh-faced, flab-reducing sense of purpose, I should do something that gets me out of breath a couple of times a day. That clearly means I’m going to have to start smoking.

Before I light up, then, and become wreathed in great billowing plumes of reek, let’s have a quick peek at some odds and sods that are wafting our way in 2020.



Nowhere in the world of golf does sugary reverence quite like The Masters.

Indeed, by the time we reach the ceremonial tee-off, the levels of gloopy, syrupy schmaltz will be so high, images of Augusta National will come with their own red-label warning from the Food Standards Agency.

In this “tradition unlike any other”, the routine of Rory McIlroy turning up to complete the career grand slam but failing again is becoming something of a tradition in itself.

In five of his last six trips to Augusta he has finished inside the top-10 but the quest for this particular milestone continues to be a millstone.

McIlroy’s glory-laden 2019 – majors apart – was sublime with a level of consistency unparalleled in his career. But you can’t help feeling Augusta will have an air of familiarity about it.

McIlroy will probably turn up in fine fettle with an early season win under his belt, us lot in the media will be talking up his chances and then he’ll post a modest opening round, rally over the weekend and finish in a share of ninth . . . behind Masters winner Tiger Woods. There, I’ve said it.



If we thought McIlroy’s pursuit of the career grand slam was one of prolonged futility then the bold Phil Mickelson’s quest to land all four majors has led to the kind of grumbling, groaning frustration you’d get with a constipated bear looking for the woods.

The US Open has remained the elusive one for Lefty even though he has finished runner-up six times in his own national championship.

Mickelson will turn 50 two days before June’s US Open at Winged Foot, the venue where he should have won the title in 2006. Father Time is certainly not on his side. The oldest major winner in history is Julius Boros at 48 – at the 1968 US PGA – while Mickelson’s career slide saw him drop out of the world’s top 50 in 2019 for the first time in 26 years.

In 2020, he will be a young ‘un starting out on the senior circuit. Knowing how those fickle golfing gods work, Mickelson will probably win the over-50s US title at the first time of asking having spent 30 years chasing the main US Open. It would be cruelly poetic.



In 2016, when golf returned to the Olympics for the first time in over 100 years at the Rio Games, many of the world’s best male players had a ready-made excuse to mask their shrugging apathy.

The phrase “withdrawing due to fears over the Zika virus” became so widely spouted in golfing circles even Norman and Bessie used it to pull out of the Palacerigg Husband & Wife Salver.

Of course, such fears proved unfounded and the battle for golfing gold was a terrific success. In golf-daft Japan this year, it could be huge on the simple basis that Tiger is likely to be there.

A raft of other leading lights have expressed their desire to compete while the women’s field, as it was in 2016, will be top class.

Let’s face it, Woods’ Masters defence and the Ryder Cup will be the biggest things in golf this year but the Olympics could really flex its muscles.



There was a point when the Ladies European Tour (LET) seemed to be working to such an unsustainable model it just about got a ticking off from Greta Thunberg.

The decision by its members to support a joint venture with the LPGA Tour hopefully means some stability, more opportunity and greater financial rewards for LET players left beleaguered by years of tour mismanagement and sponsor evacuation.

Under Mike Whan’s canny stewardship, the US-based LPGA Tour’s overall purse has risen from $47.6m when he took over in 2009 to a record-breaking $75.1m this year.

Forging strong ties with Whan and his team can’t be a bad thing. After a thrilling European Solheim Cup win in 2019, let’s hope the foundations can now be laid for a strong, prosperous schedule the LET’s talented players deserve.



After much discussion, debate, data-gathering, statistical analysis and probably a few nice lunches, the high-heid yins at the R&A and the USGA will release the results of their Distance Insights Project in February.

The effects of distance, primarily in the pro game, has been a hot topic for years.

Will the results of the study call for robust action? Will there be a reined-back tournament ball? Could bifurcation – different equipment rules for amateurs and pros – be introduced? Or will it just be business as usual?

All, or indeed nothing, will be revealed in 2020.