Paul Krishnamurty marks your card for the new PGA Tour season, recommending five potential superstars fancied to make big progress in the year ahead...
"DJ says he's 'dialled in' and when he returns in February, it will be no surprise to see career best performances. He's recently turned 30, often a milestone when players truly come of age."
Forget the media outrage at the failings of a young man, Dustin Johnson's ban from the PGA Tour could be just the jolt his career needed. You don't win eight PGA Tour titles before the age of 30 without being something special and there was always clearly more improvement left in the bag, both in golfing and as we now know, attitude terms.
DJ says he's 'dialled in' and when he returns in February, it will be no surprise to see career best performances. He's recently turned 30, often a milestone when players truly come of age and the birth of a first child is also often a turning point. Johnson will win majors and this year's USPGA Championship, returning to the Whistling Straits venue where he was cruelly denied a play-off in 2010 by a harsh final hole penalty, offers the perfect fairytale scenario.
There is no more obvious first-time winner-in-waiting than Koepka, who broke through on the European Tour in stunning fashion at November's Turkish Airlines Open. The field on that occasion was the equal of most PGA Tour line-ups, and the way he chased down victory in nerveless fashion carried all the hallmarks of a champion.
The 24 year-old's progress has been quite remarkable. It's less than two years since he was plying his trade on the European Challenge Tour and he looked a contender immediately on both main tours. That willingness to travel can only improve his all-round game and, in time, he could be a multiple major winner. Right now, he is best backed on low-scoring courses, ideally with the full quota of par-fives for this massive hitter to overwhelm.
Another power player with almost limitless potential, the long-touted Woodland should be at the stage of his career where he starts breaking through in the biggest events. Although he didn't manage to win a third PGA Tour title in 2014, it was his most consistent, missing only one cut and registering an impressive 13 top-25 finishes.
To date, Woodland has saved his best for standard tour events, but the fact he made the top-30 in all four majors during his rookie 2011 season shows he has the tools to cope with championship venues too. He came with a run over the weekend at last year's Masters and extreme power off the tee makes him well-suited to Augusta. After three attempts on that nuanced layout, he looks ready to challenge.
After going off the boil throughout the second half of the season, English could be forgotten by fickle betting markets and that presents an opportunity for patient punters. Few youngsters have impressed so immediately in recent years and it wasn't long ago that he was regarded as roughly equal to wonderkid Jordan Spieth. Whereas Spieth is a mere 17.016/1 chance to win the Masters, English is now available at 180.0179/1.
In addition to length off the tee and a hot putter, English has really impressed with his attitude in contention. His two victories during the 2013 season, only his second on tour, were an eyecatching achievement and the confident manner in which he thwarted Rory McIlroy's challenge for last year's World Matchplay lingers in the memory.
Three years ago, a 21 year-old Cauley arrived on the PGA Tour with a big reputation and immediately got himself into contention. The result was wild market over-reaction. If memory serves, he was trading below 40.039/1 for some events, but we're still waiting for the breakthrough win and he failed to even make the top-125 and FedEx Cup play-offs last year.
However the way he finished 2014, winning a competitive Web.com Tour event and earning his PGA Tour card, suggested we might begin to see that potential realised. Cauley is still very young in golfing terms and has a touch around the green that will be invaluable if and when developing a more consistent long game. With huge odds available most weeks, now could be the time to follow him.