British Open Field 2012: Young Guns Poised to Test the Top Stars
The recent influx of young talent has rejuvenated the game of golf, as young stars have taken the reins and have begun to lead the game into the next generation.
This week, the Open Championship field is filled with promising young talent poised to break through for their first major championship triumph.
Presented are the brightest young guns that are poised to test the headlining stars for the right to have their name etched on the Claret Jug.
Perhaps the biggest young star in the game, outside of Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler has established himself as a top player in the world and a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.
Many would argue that Rickie is already a big star, but at still only at the ripe old age of 23 and without a major under his belt, I am classifying him as a young gun.
This week, Fowler makes his third trip across the pond for the Open Championship. In his first two Opens, Rickie has shown an innate ability to play and thrive at links-style golf, as he finished T-14 in 2010 and T-5 last year.
Rickie has a chance to contend with the big stars, and possibly win his first major, because his game is naturally suited for links golf. He has a penetrating ball flight that could cut through wind, and he has sneaky power that could shorten slow, soggy courses.
His short game isn’t bad either; he possesses good touch around the greens with his wedges and is serviceable with the putter.
If and when Fowler has his major championship breakthrough, I fully expect it to be at an Open Championship.
Day is another young gun who could already be included among the big stars in the game today, but like with Fowler, he is still under the age of 25 and has yet to break through for a major championship.
While Jason’s game has taken a slight step back this season—in comparison to the monster 2010 and 2011 seasons he had—he has been able to regain some consistency with two top-10 finishes in his last three starts.
Day’s Open track record may not be fantastic, with his top finish being a T-30 in 2010, but his stellar pedigree in the other three majors makes me believe that he can turn things around in the oldest major championship.
Jason’s distance should help him this week if he can keep the ball out of the rough. He will be able to hit short irons into greens that some players will have hit mid-to-long irons to reach.
His scrambling and sand-saving ability—17th and 36th on tour respectively—should be able to save him if he finds one of Royal Lytham’s many bunkers or out of position off the green.
Huh has burst onto the scene this year, winning once and finishing in the top-10 four times in his first 19 PGA Tour starts.
At the age of 22, Huh has already surpassed the $2 million dollar mark this season in earnings and is well on his way to being named rookie of the year on tour.
This week marks his first start in a major championship, and while that would normally spell disaster for a player, John has shown ability to perform well under immense pressure.
It would be unrealistic to believe that he can break through in his first major start, especially at the Open Championship. However, I do believe he can make a spirited run to the top 10, guaranteeing his return next year and showing the golfing world that he is a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.
Kyle may be remembered for his epic collapse on the 18th at Torrey Pines earlier this season, but many forget that he bounced back the very next week to win the Waste Management Open in Phoenix.
At 24, Stanley is an excellent driver of the golf ball—sixth in distance and 12th in total driving on tour—and is fantastic with his irons.
Stanley’s major championship resume is a little light at the moment, but with his current form and his top major performance coming at last year’s Open Championship (T-44), it is feasible to believe he can make a run this year.
At 26, Bae is the oldest player on this list, but he shouldn’t be overlooked.
The South Korean product has shown potential of being a top player in the world and could be the next big Asian player on tour.
Unlike everyone else on this list, Bae has yet to win on the PGA Tour but he has been close, finishing T-2 at the Transitions Championship in March.
He has, however, won three times on the Japan Tour and was the leading money leader in 2011.
Bae’s top major performance came this season when he played well at Augusta, finishing a respectable T-37.