Our Fantasy Golf game is back for its fifth season which is set to be the biggest and best yet. It was a fantastic year last year with nearly 10,000 of you signing up to play and Mark Rogers claiming overall victory by a record 218 points.
The free-to-play game will once again take in events from both the European and PGA Tours over an eight-month season that starts at the Masters and reaches its conclusion at the DP World Tour Championship. As well as the regular season, the Knockout Cup competition returns to add some extra spice for those at the top and a final shot at glory for the strugglers! There are thousands of pounds worth of travel and equipment prizes up for grabs and we’ll once again try to help you along the way with in-depth tournament previews on the TG website and regular game updates in the magazine. Go to the game homepage where you can register your team, learn how to play, study the tournament schedule and see all the amazing prizes on offer. Good luck!
Looking back: The 2014 season in numbers
9,812: Managers who took part in season four
3,510: Mark Rogers’ winning points total
463: Highest weekly points total (Michael Boland at The Open)
14: Managers defeated by Kirk Jones en-route to Knockout Cup victory
15.93: Percentage of you that selected eventual winner Henrik Stenson at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship
433: Players to choose from in the game
Looking forward: Team TG’s 2015 predictions
To get you in the mood, we asked Team TG for their ‘Dead Certs’ and ‘Longshots’ ahead of the 2015 season. These are best taken with a pinch of salt…
Chris Jones, Editor
Dead Cert: Rory to win the US Open and The Open. The new venue at Chambers Bay in Washington levels the playing field at the year's second major; no-one has played it (other than Peter Uihlein, who won the US Amateur there). It's a links, so June's fairways and greens will be hard. Rory is the best driver of a ball in the game, so he'll pound shots that fly dead straight and run for miles. Then his ability to hit sky-high irons gives him a huge advantage on those greens. Same story at St Andrews, where at least six par 4s are drivable for him. He's also shot 63 in the last Open there before getting unlucky with the draw and being blown off the course in the second round.
Longshot: Tiger will win again in 2015. It's hard to fathom right now as he takes a leave of absence from the game, but this is Tiger Woods we're talking about. TIGER WOODS! He's taken the time off so he can work out his game without the public's glare. Right now he'll be beating balls at his Palm Beach course, and there's too much talent there for him not to come good. I'm not saying he'll win a major this year – leave that until 2016 – but I can see him with another "W" to his name before the end of the year.
Rob McGarr, Features Editor
Dead Cert: Bubba won’t win the Masters. Yes, I know he’s one of the favourites. Yes, I know he shot three rounds in the 60s and dominated last year. Yes, I know the course is set up perfectly for him. But I just don’t think he’s mentally tough enough to defend his jacket. The only players to achieve that feat are Nicklaus, Faldo and Tiger. As good as he can be, I don’t think Bubba is at their level. He’s still too volatile and dramatic; too reliant on tree-defying wonder shots that can easily go wrong.
Longshot: Chesson Hadley will break into the World’s top 10. He’s got a long way to go, but 2014’s Rookie of the Year is following in the footsteps of Jordan Spieth (2013), John Huh (2012), Keegan Bradley (2011) and Rickie Fowler (2010), who have racked up 14 wins between them. Hadley already has a PGA Tour win under his belt, with a tournament record 21-under total at the Puerto Rico Open. He won’t be at the Masters, but has already secured entry to the Players and the PGA Championship and could be set for a big year.
Kevin Brown, Courses Editor
Dead Cert: Monty to continue senior surge. After waiting so long for a victory in a major, it was in typical London buses-style that two arrived almost simultaneously for 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie last year - his second campaign on the seniors circuit. Expect more of the same from Monty this time around and for the Scot to secure his majors hat-trick at the very least.
Longshot: Lee Westwood to win a major title. ‘Westy’ has enjoyed a highly successful and lucrative career and so far the only thing that is missing is a major championship. He’s been agonisingly close on numerous occasions – I vividly recall him coming unstuck on the back nine at Augusta National in the 1999. That’s 15 years ago and Westwood is still looking to break that duck and avoid joining the likes of Colin Montgomerie as one of the best players never to have won a major.
Joe Downes, Staff Writer
Dead Cert: Luke Donald will win the BMW PGA Championship. Winless and consigned to his sofa for the Ryder Cup, last year was a disaster for the Englishman who took matters into his own hands by returning to former coach, Pat Goss. Early signs are good with a third-place finish at December’s Nedbank Challenge following this proclamation after the Turkish Airlines Open: ‘It’s all starting to come back.’ He will crown his return to the game’s elite with victory at Wentworth in May where his career record is mighty (3, cut, won, won, 2, 35, 3, 7, 25, 18).
Longshot: South African stars will dominate in Scotland. It’s a big year for South African golf with their biggest names likely to underpin the International tilt at a second Presidents Cup in October. Their record on the links in recent years is incredible, claiming two of the last five Opens (Oosthuizen 2010 and Els 2012). Oosthuizen was followed home at this year’s venue, St Andrews, by Goosen (sixth) and Schwartzel (14th). At the Alfred Dunhill Links, Oosthuizen, Sterne, Mulroy, Schwartzel, Grace (won, 2012) and Coetzee have all registered top 10s in the last three years, with the latter duo finishing second (Grace, 2013) and third (Coetzee, 2011) at the Scottish Open too.