Nick Dougherty believes Jordan Spieth may struggle to hold off Jason Day and Rory McIlroy in the battle for world No 1 in 2016.
Spieth stormed to the top of the world rankings after posting five victories during a breakthrough year, where he cruised to a record-breaking wire-to-wire victory at the Masters before posting another major victory at the US Open.
Although the 22-year-old was unable to complete a Grand Slam after finishing one-shot short of a play-off at the Open Championship and ending runner-up to Jason Day at the PGA Championship, Spieth reclaimed top spot after finishing the PGA Tour season with the FedExCup and Tour Championship titles.
The American heads in to the New Year with a narrow 0.57 advantage at the top of the OWGR standings, but Dougherty feels Day and McIlroy are the pair that can dominate the season ahead.
"We haven`t seen anything like [Spieth`s 2015] since Tiger Woods was dominating," Dougherty told Sky Sports News HQ. "Will he be able to back it up this season though? I don`t know.
"I just think that there`s been so much done and so much euphoria has been built around how he putts the ball and not the rest of his game.
"You look at Rory McIlroy and Jason Day and tee to green they`re phenomenal and leaps and bounds above the rest of the field, whereas Spieth relies on his putting.
"If that putter goes cold at all, which it could easily do, I don`t think he`ll be able to keep up with those guys. I think he`s still going to be there or thereabouts, but I think this year the big rivalry will be between Day and McIlroy."
Day lies second in the world standings after claiming a maiden major title as part of four wins in a seven-week stretch during 2015, with Rory McIlroy lurking not far behind thanks to ending an injury-affected season with Race to Dubai victory and as European No 1.
McIlroy still registered four wins in a year where an ankle injury ruled him out of action for two months, with Dougherty expecting even better things from the Northern Irishman over the next year.
"Rory is very much Tiger-ish when he says a year without no majors is a poor year by his standards," Dougherty added. "He`s proven himself as a great winner of major championships and he chases down records.
"I think Rory will come bounding back next season; if you needle him he gets tough and will bring out his best stuff. I really think Rory McIlroy will be putting his name on at least major championship in the coming season.
"I don`t think he has enjoyed the fact that Jordan Spieth has gone out there and performed this year, and I think deep down McIlroy believes, as he should do, that he`s a far better golfer than Spieth.
"He`s got much more in his locker than him and a much bigger, more powerful game. When he`s on song, he`ll beat Jordan Spieth week in, week out.
"Day`s got a great driving game like McIlroy and arguably putts a little bit better than him, so we`re going to have a great rivalry next year between all of these top players."
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