PGA Tour Power Rankings: The 7 Best Players Under 25 Years Old
The youth movement on the PGA Tour is now in full swing. A generation of players that were inspired by Tiger Woods' charge to the summit of world golf have now exploded onto the scene with dreams of doing the same.
A sport once dominated by experienced players is now witnessing the results of 21st century training. Experience is being trumped by strength and athleticism. Guile and know-how are succumbing to talent and enthusiasm.
The emergence of this youthful generation has caused a significant change in the landscape on the PGA Tour. Gone are the days of Tiger racking up major after major. Gone are the days of the "big five", consisting of Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh. Youth is in.
In the last four years, players such as Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson, Louis Oosthuizen, Keegan Bradley and Charl Schwartzel have claimed major championships in their twenties. And in case you haven't noticed, there's plenty more coming up behind them.
So who are golf's brightest young stars? Who will be the next dominant golfer on the planet?
Here's a look at the seven best players of the PGA Tour under 25 years of age.
7. Matteo Manassero
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
At just 19 years of age, Matteo Manassero has made some simply remarkable achievements.
The childhood prodigy is the youngest golfer ever to win a European Tour event, after he claimed the 2010 Castello Masters as a 17-year old. However, that phenomenal four-shot victory is not the only record he owns. A year earlier, Manassero set the record for becoming the youngest ever champion of the British Amateur Championship at 16 years of age when he defeated Sam Hutsby 4 and 3 in the 36-hole final.
Manassero has made just the three appearances on the PGA Tour this season, instead honing his game on the European Tour. He impressively finished in a tie for sixth at the HSBC Championship in January, with names like Woods, McDowell and McIlroy just ahead of him on the leaderboard. The 19-year-old then followed that up with a second-place finish at the Open de Andalucía Costa del Sol, only being beaten by Julien Quesne's final round 64.
Currently ranked No. 86 in the world, Manassero has been as high as No. 29 during a strong stretch last year.
The young prodigy owns a beautifully, simply and efficient swing that makes many feel as if they are watching a textbook in motion at times. With incredible talent and all the skills at his disposal, it's clear that Manassero will thrive on the PGA Tour.
6. Ryo Ishikawa
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Ryo Ishikawa is the young star of Japanese golf. A product of the sport's continued growth in Asia, Ishikawa is the type of talent we are going to see considerably more of.
The 20-year-old burst onto the scene in Japan, when at just 15 years of age, he became the youngest ever winner on the Japanese Tour by claiming the 2007 Munsingwear Open KSB Cup. The following year in 2008, Ishikawa turned professional and claimed another victory at the mynavi ABC Championship by one shot with a final round 69. By the end of that year, Ishikawa had become the youngest ever player to break into the top 100 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
The young star has dominated the Japanse Tour since, racking up nine victories as a teenager between 2007 and 2010. That form is starting to appear of the PGA Tour, best showcased in his fourth placed finish at the 2011 Bridgestone Invitational in the World Golf Championships.
Already possessing great power for a player of his size, Ishikawa is now undertaking a new strength training regime to add size to his slight frame. However, that slight 155 lb. frame still manages to average 290 yards off the tee!
With immense talent, a cool temperament, unique style and an entertaining manner on the course, Ishikawa looks certain to be a star on the PGA Tour for many years.
5. Bud Cauley
Hunter Martin/Getty Images
The first American on the list, Bud Cauley is one young star who is enjoying a fine finish to 2012.
The 22-year old from Daytona Beach has rocketed up the World Rankings in the last two months to now sit at No. 55. Cauley finished third at last month's Wyndham Championship won by Sergio Garcia after consecutive fourth-place finishes at the RBC Canadian Open and the True South Classic in July.
The star player from the University of Alabama seamlessly made the transition to the pro tour in 2011 by making the cut in his first four tournaments as a professional, which included a fourth placed finish at the Viking Classic.
Cauley, like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, avoided Q-School, and went straight from college to the PGA Tour by finishing the 2011 season at 116th on the money-list in just eight starts. Now charging up the World Rankings, Cauley seems destined to break into the top 50 by season's end.
The owner of a copybook swing with great tempo, Cauley is ranked 12th on the PGA Tour this season in total birdies, highlighting his potential to go low.
As 2012 edges towards a close, expect 2013 to be a bright one for this young star.
4. Kyle Stanley
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Kyle Stanley is famous for arguably the most amazing and dramatic two-week turnaround ever seen on the PGA Tour.
In January this year, Stanley went into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines with a six-shot lead. Seemingly unbeatable, the 24-year-old still held a three-shot advantage as he stood on the last tee. But, after laying up on the par-5 18th, his approach shot spun off the green and into the water. He then three-putted the green to finish with a shocking triple-bogey, which put him in a playoff with Brandt Snedeker that he ultimately lost.
Then, just a week later at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Stanley came back from eight shots behind leader Spencer Levin with a final round 65 to complete the third largest final round comeback in PGA history.
In his four years on the PGA Tour, Stanley has become known for his immense power which sees him currently ranked ninth on tour in driving distance at a whopping 306.9 yards. Unsurprisingly, he ranks near the top of the list for par-5 performance.
After his dramatic start to the season, Stanley has settled into some consistent play without being stellar, recording a number of top-20 finishes.
But, with a great ability to rebound from setbacks and a swing that will always see him score well, expect to see plenty more of Kyle Stanley in the coming years.
3. Jason Day
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Australia is synonymous with great golfers, and in Jason Day, they have another.
Long considered the next truly great golfer from Australia, Day exploded onto the scene in 2011 when he finished runner-up in both the US Masters and US Open. His 12-under score at the Masters was the lowest mark ever posted by a first time participant. That Masters tournament was the start of a brilliant run for Day in 2011, as he collected 12 top-10 finishes on his way to becoming the No.7 ranked player in the world.
Day is also the youngest Australian ever to win a PGA Tour event after he claimed victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in May 2010.
Fearless in pressure-packed situations, Day is a fierce competitor who is not shy in stating his desire to be crowned world number one. Unfortunately for the Australian, 2012 has been a frustrating season after a bright start at the Qatar Masters. Day was forced to withdraw from the Masters and has been sidelined by injury for much of the year. Subsequently, his ranking has slipped to No. 31.
However, his return to form at the AT&T National, where he finished in a tie for eighth, was proof that Day is returning to the levels of 2011.
With injury hopefully behind him, expect Day to feature prominently in 2013
2. Rickie Fowler
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
One of the brightest talents in golf, in part due to his clothing, is Rickie Fowler.
Everything about this young star is unconventional. His swing has arguably more panache than technique, his hair is like that of a surfer and his clothes would be appropriate at a rave. And it's exactly why he's so loved on tour.
The 23-year-old is enjoying his best year on the PGA Tour in 2012. In early May, Fowler claimed his first PGA Tour victory at the Wells Fargo Championship with a playoff victory over D.A. Points and Rory McIlroy. He then followed that up with a second-place finish at the Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach the following week, just two shots behind winner Matt Kuchar. Another top-10 was secured two weeks later at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
Now ranked 26th in the world, Fowler is beginning to show his true potential on the world's most demanding pro tour.
There will be many that say his swing is flawed, and will not produce the consistency required to win major tournaments. However, that is yet to be seen, and his talent in undeniable.
When he puts it all together, he can be simply beautiful to watch. Lets hope we see more of it in the years to come.
1. Rory McIlroy
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
There was never really any question about who would sit atop this list. Rory McIlroy isn't only the best player under 25 years of age, hes' simply the best player on the planet.
Since that famous collapse around the back nine at the 2011 Masters, McIlroy has simply dominated the PGA Tour.
At the next major after that Augusta collapse, McIlroy turned the 2011 US Open into a one-man event, smashing countless records on his way to an eight-shot victory at Congressional. Since then, he's gone on to claim trophies at the Hong Kong Open, the Honda Classic, the US PGA Championship, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship.
Those last two victories have just come in consecutive weeks, extending his lead at the top of the World Golf Rankings.
His form this year has been simply staggering. At one point, McIlroy went through 14 events, finishing in the top-five in 12 of them.
He consistency is down to a swing that has been compared with the great Ben Hogan. Few players have ever hit the ball as hard and as consistently as the young Northern Irishman.
With two major championships in his pocket, and at just 23 years of age, the sky is the limit for McIlroy. In a very short space of time, McIlroy could possible become not only the greatest golfer on earth, but simply the greatest athlete on earth.
What a title that would be.