Beef: “Rory McIlroy has freed himself of the stress and 2024 will be his year!”

As we count down to the year’s first golf Major, Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston predicts who will lift the year’s biggest trophies, whether Tiger will win again, and who will be the breakout star.

Two of the things I get asked the most are “Who’s going to win the Majors this year?” and “Who’s the next breakthrough star?”. So, to save me having the same conversations again and again, I’m going to put my predictions down in print and the next time someone asks either of those questions, I’ll just direct them to this article… or perhaps my fellow columnist Iona Stephen’s predictions for 2024.

We are counting down the weeks until the Masters.

In truth, predicting any of the Major winners well in advance is total guesswork. There are so many factors to consider. So much depends on the conditions and the form of the player heading into the week. Have they played too much? Have they played too little? Will they cope with the pressure of a Major? You could be on fire heading into a Major, but those events hit differently and unless you’ve been there and done it on the back nine of one of the big four on a Sunday afternoon then it’s hard to know how we’ll react.

Viktor Hovland in action at The Masters in 2023. Andrew 'Beef' Johnston is backing him to win the Major in 2024.

The Masters is arguably the easiest Major to predict. It’s the only one that’s played at the same place every year and experience often proves key at Augusta. Like most golf fans, I’d love Rory McIlroy to get the job done and complete the Career Grand Slam and I am backing him to end his Major drought in 2024 but I don’t think it’ll be here. Instead, I’m going with Viktor Hovland to win Norway’s first men’s Major. Since winning the leading amateur prize on his debut in 2019 he’s finished T21, T27 and T7 in his next three appearances and he’s a hell of a player. Short game is key around Augusta and Viktors has come on leaps and bounds in the last 18 months, and he showed in last year’s Majors and with his performances at the Ryder Cup and Tour Championship that he’s a man who loves the pressure. And he’ll look great in the Green Jacket.

Rory McIlroy is hoping to repeat his 2014 US PGA victory at Valhalla when it returns to the venue this year and Andrew 'Beef' Johnston is backing him to end his Major drought.

I could easily find reasons to pick Rory to win all four Majors this year, but I think his best chance of success is at the PGA Championship at Valhalla. It would be a fitting venue for him to end his winless streak having won his last Major here in 2014. He loves the course; it suits his game and he seems in a great place on and off the course in 2024 having freed himself of a lot of the stresses and pressure he’s faced in previous years. It’s too early to really consider his form, but he’s looked like a man on a mission so far and I think his swing is the best it’s ever been.

Beef is backing Scottie Scheffler to win his second Major at the US Open in 2024.

The last time the US Open was at Pinehurst No.2, Martin Kaymer cruised to an eight-shot victory, hitting greens and fairways for fun, and making it look like he was playing a different tournament. I can’t see anyone making it that easy this time, but I do think another fairways and greens machine will lift the trophy – Scottie Scheffler. It’s hardly an outside bet, picking the World No.1, but there were questions raised about his game in 2023. His putting let him down, but he’s been working with Phil Kenyon and I think we’ll see him back to his free-flowing best.

And then, in the blink of an eye, we’ll be at The Open again as it returns to Royal Troon. First and foremost, I hope I’m there again! It was the scene of my best Major finish (8th) and I loved every minute of the week in Scotland. The crowds were incredible and I’ll never forget the support and the feelings. And I hope we get another epic battle like we saw between Mickelson and Stenson the last time it was played here in 2016.

Beef is backing Tommy Fleetwood to win The Open.

It’s very tempting to back Rory to lift his second Claret Jug. He was T5 in 2016 and his record at The Open and on links courses is ridiculously good, but I’m going with his Ryder Cup teammate and my fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood. A Rory-Tommy Sunday shootout would be brilliant for European golf and a great way to end the men’s Major season.

Tiger Woods will win another PGA Tour event according to Andrew 'Beef' Johnston.

As always, Tiger Woods will get loads of attention ahead of the Majors. The guy’s got 15 of them, so he’s impossible to ignore, and no one would like to see him add to that tally more than me, but I can’t see him doing it this year. However, if he does as he’s planned and manages to play an event every month then I think we’ll see him win again in 2024, which would be an incredible achievement after all he’s been through. You just can’t rule him out. He’s a man who’s won on one leg, who’s repeatedly battled back and produced the unexpected. I’m putting him down to get that 83rd PGA Tour win at some stage this year and move ahead of Sam Snead. I’m particularly keen for that to happen just so I can give John Robins, my Beef’s Golf Club host and fellow TG columnist, some abuse on the podcast because he doesn’t think Tiger will win again.

Everyone is always looking for the ‘next Tiger’. It’s hard to look past Ludvig Aberg for that position right now after his 2023. I’ve picked Scheffler to win the US Open, but I think Aberg will go close and he’s going to have an outstanding year.

Marco Penge will be a breakout star in 2024 according to Andrew 'Beef' Johnston.

In terms of a new breakout star, I’m going to base this on players I’ve seen up close so far this season. Marco Penge has had a solid start to the season, finished 4th at the Alfred Dunhill in South Africa and he hits it miles. I’d recommend watching him if you get a chance and if he doesn’t get a win, I’d expect him to make the season finale. And Casey Jarvis is another big talent. I played nine holes with him and he’s a serious player who’s shown some decent signs early in the season.

Max Homa and Rory McIlroy are being backed for exceptional seasons by Andrew 'Beef' Johnston.

Then there’s the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai and I’m going with Max Homa and Rory McIlroy respectively. Homa’s a quality player, he showed that at the Ryder Cup, and we’ll see him lift some trophies this year. And I’m going to pick Rory to win his fifth Race to Dubai title. Anyone who wins it has to beat him and across the course of the season, especially if he wins a Major, I just can’t see that happening because he’s so consistent. If you manage to finish ahead of Rory then you’ll win it.

Beef salutes the crowd at the 2016 Open Championship.

But what about my own season’s hopes? A full schedule is my aim and if I can manage to get into some of the big events like Ireland, Scotland or Wentworth, I’d be delighted. I’d love to be at Troon for The Open and if I can reach the Race to Dubai finale then it will have been a fantastic comeback year.


About the Author

Andrew 'Beef' Johnston is a professional golfer who plays on the DP World Tour, host of Beef's Golf Club, and contributor to Today's Golfer.

Andrew Johnston – Professional Golfer and Podcaster

Andrew Johnston, better known as Beef, is a professional golfer on the DP World Tour who has also played on the PGA Tour and in three of the four men’s Majors.

The Englishman, who won the Real Club Valderrama Open de España in 2016, has his own YouTube channel and is the owner and co-host of the hit Beef’s Golf Club podcast alongside fellow Today’s Golfer contributor John Robins. He has also tried his hand in the commentary booth and in front of the cameras at both The Open and the Ryder Cup.

A huge fan favorite, Beef is a Cobra Puma player and is coached by Jamie Gough. Away from golf, he is a huge Arsenal FC fan and lives in Portugal with his wife Jodie and daughter Harley.

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