Who Are the Best Emerging Players in Golf?

William ScottContributor IJune 26, 2012

Who Are the Best Emerging Players in Golf?

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    On the PGA Tour today, the list of emerging players is enormous, but who are the best? Opinions come from all directions and are all over the map.

    We have seen many golfers over the past couple of years who seem to have come out of nowhere, and yet somehow became champions. There are many golfers today that are capable of greatness, but few will actually make it to that level.  The golfers on the following list may be just some of those who become household names.

Rickie Fowler

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    Rickie Fowler might just be the best emerging player in golf right now.

    He finally captured his first PGA Tour win at the Wells Fargo Championship a few weeks ago, defeating Rory McIlroy and DA Points in a playoff.

    Since then, he has been playing some of the best golf on the PGA Tour. He had four top-10 finishes in a row, including second at the Players Championship and fifth at the Crown Plaza Invitational, around the time when he won his first PGA Tour event.

    Fowler is really showing the world that he is an incredible golfer, and may be close to winning a major soon. 

Webb Simpson

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    Webb Simpson emerged on the scene just last week when he won the 112th US Open.

    He had a plus-5 going into the weekend, and posted back-to-back 68's to finish at plus-1 overall for the tournament.

    He didn't have the lead at any point during the tournament, until he was in the clubhouse, where he saw Graeme McDowell miss a 23-foot putt to guarantee that he would be the winner. 

    Many do not realize that coming into the US Open, Webb Simpson was ranked 14th in the world rankings, and had won two events the previous year (Wyndham Championship and Deutsche Bank Championship).   

    So it really shouldn't be a surprise that he won the US Open.

    Webb Simpson is already one of the best golfers in the world, and he will continue to get better. 

Bubba Watson

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    Bubba Watson definitely has top-of-mind awareness when it comes to the topic of emerging players. 

    Bubba vaulted into popularity when he won the Masters in April.

    After his historic and memorable Masters victory, Bubba played one tournament, and then took a month off to spend more time with his family. That seemed to affect his play, because he missed the cut at his next tournament, The Memorial Tournament. He then missed the cut again at the US Open.

    But this past weekend, he placed second at the Travelers Championship. Could Bubba be back on track for another major championship?

    Bubba Watson is a gifted golfer. He is the farthest driver on tour, averaging over 315 yards per drive. He will be a legitimate contender for the upcoming British Open, and will continue to play his game, which many people like to call "Bubba Golf."

Jason Dufner

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    Over the last couple of weeks, Jason Dufner has been dominating the game of golf.

    He won his first PGA Tour event at the Zurich Classic, and then three weeks later, he won the HP Byron Nelson Championship. The very next week he placed second at the Crown Plaza Invitational, only behind 2007 Masters Champion, Zach Johnson. And finally, just last week, he had a fourth place finish at the US Open. 

    He is one of the three two-time winners on the PGA Tour this year. The other two are Hunter Mahan and Tiger Woods.

    He is leading in FedEx Cup points, 232 points in front of Bubba Watson (who is second in points).

    He is such a dominant player that it is impossible to keep him off this list. He is a big-time threat to any golfer, and he should continue his dominance because of his amazing consistency. 

Keegan Bradley

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    Keegan Bradley showed the world that he could really play some great golf when he won the PGA Championship last year. He is one of three golfers to win a major when it was their first major. The other two were Ben Curtis and Francis Ouimet, who is recognized from the golf movie, The Greatest Game Ever Played. 

    Bradley won five events in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, two of them were PGA Tour events. The rest of his victories were charity events, or events not associated with the PGA Tour. 

    He was also voted the 2011 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year by his fellow golfers.

    After Bradley won the PGA Championship, there was a lot of controversy with the long putter. He was the first player to ever win a major with the long putter, and many thought that the long putter gave the player an unfair advantage.

    The argument of the long putter giving an unfair advantage is weak, because, just like irons or drivers, there are different styles of putters. For example, if one golfer has a Taylor Made driver that can drive 300 yards, and another golfer has a Wilson Staff driver that can drive 250 yards, should Taylor Made drivers be banned? In much the same way, long putters should not be viewed in this fashion. 

    2012 has not necessarily been the best for Bradley, as he has not won an event yet.

    However, because of his fierce play and his determination to never give up (as seen last year at the PGA Championship), Bradley will be a contender to hold the Claret Jug at the 141st British Open.

Ben Curtis

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    Ben Curtis is the most underrated player on the PGA Tour.

    After winning the Valero Texas Open in March, he placed 13th at the Zurich Classic, was fifth at the Wells Fargo Championship, and finished second at the Players Championship.

    Ben Curtis is a fantastic player, but is not getting the recognition he deserves.  He is a big threat to win a major and certainly merits being selected to the Ryder Cup team. He is a consistent golfer who has the ability to quickly climb up the leaderboard.

    Watch out for Ben Curtis, he could surprise some people.

Final Thoughts

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    The PGA Tour is extremely competitive from top to bottom, with the best golfers in the world contending for championships each week. These players are not just the best emerging players, but they are also some of the best players on the PGA Tour. 

    All of these players could contend for the next two majors, so do not be surprised if someone from this list wins one! 

    William Scott, 13-year-old sportswriter

    Twitter: @wscottbr