Golf's biggest disappointments in 2021

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July 28th, 2021

We are eight months into 2021 and it’s been a roller-coaster year on and off the immaculate fairways of the PGA Tour.

We’ve seen record-breaking performances, thrilling comeback victories, and flawless wire-to-wire wins, but those highs don’t tell the whole story.

Here are four of the biggest disappointments in golf this year.

Dustin Johnson

This might seem harsh, but DJ has to make this list, even though he is ranked No. 2 in the world.

Johnson rounded off 2020 with a win at the Masters and his 20-under score set a record at Augusta. He dismantled one of the toughest courses on the biggest stage.

But the player we are watching now feels a long way away from that peak.

Johnson started the year well, with an 11th-place finish at the Tournament of Champions, then won the Saudi International on the European Tour. Since that win in Saudi Arabia, DJ has as many top 10 finishes (three) as he does missed cuts, he has finished 48th or worse on another three occasions, and Jon Rahm leapfrogged him at the top of the world rankings.

He missed the cut at Augusta and had the weekend off again at the PGA Championship. He was in contention on the final day of the U.S. Open but fell to 19th.

It’s not a disastrous slump, and many golfers can only dream of playing at DJ’s level, but considering how good he was at Augusta in November, 2021 has to be seen as a disappointment.

Webb Simpson

At the start of the year, Simpson was a top-seven player in the world rankings. In 2020, he finished in the top 10 in eight of his 17 tournaments and won twice in the same calendar year for the first time since 2011, with victories at the Phoenix Open and RBC Heritage.

But 2021 has not been good.

He has already missed as many cuts (three) in the last eight tournaments as he had in the previous 54, and he failed to register a top 10 in a major this year for the first time since 2017. Top 20 finishes in both the Masters and the Open are hardly disastrous, but given Simpson’s high standard, there is a tinge of disappointment with how he’s played this year.

An opening round of 79 at Torrey Pines in the U.S. Open sums up Simpson’s 2021. Coming in as one of the favorites, he shot six bogeys on the front nine and finished 8-over. There were only two worse scores from the morning groups.

Adam Scott

In the last two decades, Scott has had a top three finish every year, bar one — 2017. Even that year wasn’t too bad, as he posted four finishes between fourth and 10th.

He has one top 10 finish in 2021, a tie for 10th in the Farmers Insurance Open. He also didn't finish inside the top 22 in at least one of the majors for the first time since 2009.

Even after a slump in form at the end of 2020, Scott was in the world’s top 15 at the end of the year. Now he sits outside the top 40. He’s played in 13 tournaments this year and has finished 35th or worse in 62% of them.

The "Big Queenslander" is a 14-time PGA Tour winner and a Masters winner, so there is no doubt 2021 has to be considered a disappointment.

Rickie Fowler

Less than two years ago, Fowler was among the top 10 golfers in the world. Now he sits outside the top 100.

This is less of a disappointment and more of an absolute disaster for a man who has finished in the top three of every major and is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour.

He finished eighth at the PGA Championship, but that’s his only top 10 of the year and is no more than a glimmer of hope for a miserable year. He has missed six cuts and finished outside the top 30 on another six occasions. He had his worst Open Championship performance since 2013 and didn’t qualify for either the Masters or the U.S. Open.

Fowler opened up in a March interview, about how difficult it has been given, and that he needs to keep grinding and play his way back into form. He is closing in on 2 1/2 years without a win on tour, and he has fallen 54 places in the world rankings just this year.