Is Rory McIlroy still the best golfer under 25 years old in the world?
With all of the recent hubbub surrounding Rory McIlroy, we sometimes forget that there are some other pretty darn good players out there who have yet to turn 25 years old.
Due to the sophistication and growth of golf over the past 20 years, today’s 25-year-old has a lot more experience and poise than those of the past. Just look at Jordan Spieth who, at only 19, has not only won his first tournament but manages the golf course like a wizened pro.
As Tiger Woods showed as a teenage phenom, and as Rory has shown by winning two majors already, youth should not be held against the young.
As you peruse this list of budding stars, know that all possess the talent, grit and desire to win big, early and often in their careers.
OK, so he’s only 14 and he only played in a couple of tournaments. Except one of those was the Masters and he made the cut beating out a bunch of seasoned pros who were awed by the kid’s game.
Guan, who hails from China, became the youngest player to make the cut in PGA Tour and finishing 58. Two weeks later he made the cut again at the Zurich Classic.
He may not be the best under 25 but he sure is the best under 15.
The 24-year-old Southern Californian comes to the PGA tour with a solid record on the web.com tour where he averaged 69.80 and was ranked in the top 10 on the money list.
Lovemark drives the ball a ton, averaging 316 yards off the tee. His best finish as a pro was at the 2009 Frys.com Open where he tied Rickie Fowler for second place. At 22, he was the youngest to win the Nationwide Tour money title.
He will be coming off neck surgery when he returns to the tour next year and will be primed for early success.
Cauley originally made a name for himself by becoming the first rookie of 2012 to post consecutive top 10 finishes when he finished in a tie for fourth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and a tie for eighth at the Shell Houston Open.
By the end of the year, he had amassed six top 10 finishes and over $1.5 million in earnings.
While his sophomore year has been a bit more rugged, Cauley has shown that he can play well and is now in search of that first big win on the tour.
Ishikawa played his first events on the PGA Tour at the ridiculous age of 17 and has never looked back.
Ishikawa, the youngest player to make the President's Cup team, already owns nine wins on the Japanese tour.
Although he can only count five top 10 finishes among his PGA finishes, he has shown that he can compete.
The powerful kid from Japan made news with his slow play at Open Championship but he has made his mark in more positive ways.
Let’s just look at how Matsuyama has performed in majors: A tie for 27 at the 2011 Masters, a tie for 10 at the 2013 U.S. Open and a tie for sixth at The Open Championship. That’s an entire career for some pros.
He also finished tied for 16 at the recent RBC Canadian Open, making that three top 10 finishes in four events that he has entered on the PGA tour.
Meanwhile, the 22-year-old also won the second pro event he entered, the 2013 Tsuruya Open on the Japanese Golf Tour and recently broke into the top 50 in the official world golf ranking.
English has already had two excellent years on the PGA, accumulating seven top 10s and his first win at the FedEx St. Jude Cup where he shot four rounds under 70.
He also finished in the top 20 of his last two tournaments including a tie for 15th at the Open Championship in Muirfield.
Huh blasted onto the American scene by winning the fifth tournament he entered, the 2012 Mayakoba golf classic. In all, his inaugural season included four top 10s and 22 made cuts in 27 events, culminating with the Rookie of the Year Award.
Huh shot an amazing 63 to come from seven strokes behind and push him into a playoff with Robert Allenby who he bested after eight holes.
This year he has already finished in the top 20 at both the Masters and the U.S. Open.
The 24-year-old Henley won in his first start as a pro when he birdied the last five holes to take the Sony Open title in January.
Henley was a super talent at the University of Georgia where he won the Fred Haskins Award as top collegiate golfer.
He has made the cut in each of the last two U.S. Opens and has already won more than $1.8 million.
He is ranked in the top five in the Tour's All-Around category and is eleventh in total strokes gained—putting, showing his ability to score when it counts most.
Before young Ghan from China played this year, it was Manassero who was the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters in 2010 when he did so at 16 years, 11 months and 22 days old.
He is also the youngest golfer to win a European tour event. Then was the first teenage to win three times on the tour.
The 20-year-old Italian has already won six times outside of the U.S. and is ranked 27th in the world.
Although it took Fowler a few seasons to get his first win at the Wells Fargo Championship, he has competed at a high level since appearing on the scene.
He has made close to 80 percent of the cuts and won just about $10 million since turning pro in 2009.
But, it was his standout play in the Ryder Cup when he was a Captain’s pick that secured Fowler’s position as one of the new bright stars. Playing against Edoardo Molinari, he posted birdies on the final four holes to come from 4–1 down and halve the match at a crucial time in the tournament.
Rickie Fowler finally got a victory on the PGA Tour last year at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Known for his head-to-toe orange outfits, Fowler has a flare for creating his own style and for playing the game that will surely lead to greater success down the road.
Spieth is making a good case as one of the best golfers of any age.
After skipping Q-School and not having to play on any secondary tours, Spieth won his first tour event this year becoming the youngest winner on the PGA Tour in 82 years.
Spieth outlasted Masters winner Zach Johnson and David Hearn to win the John Deere Classic earlier this year and add to a budding list of accomplishments.
He has already made 13 of 17 cuts that includes six top 10 finishes, and ranks 19 among money winners and is 12 in FedExCup points.
Oh yeah, he is also the only golfer besides Tiger Woods to win multiple U.S. Junior Amateur titles.
Some pretty good footsteps to follow.
Despite all of the talk about Rory and his imminent demise, the 24-year-old has still finished in the top 10 four times this year and amassed over $1.3 million.
And, oh yes, the young man from Northern Ireland is also ranked third in the world.
Right now, Rory is beset by a number of issues, having played dismally in his last three events which includes a missed cut at the Open Championship.
But, for a guy who has already won two majors five months earlier than Tiger Woods and who has won 10 tournaments since the age of 18, what is happening now can only be considered a temporary slump.