Ranking the Golfers Under 25 Years Old with the Brightest Futures

Mike DudurichContributor IJanuary 28, 2014

Ranking the Golfers Under 25 Years Old with the Brightest Futures

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    Rory McIlroy is the best of the under-25s with bright futures.
    Rory McIlroy is the best of the under-25s with bright futures.Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    The talent pool of young golfers under the age of 25 who have a chance to do great things in the future is deep.

    There's a player who has won a couple majors in that group, Rory McIlroy. There's a kid who put together a magical season in his rookie year on the PGA Tour, Jordan Spieth.

    But there also other players who have great skills and talent, great mental makeups and great drive who haven't been able to break through and make a list like this.

    Here are eight of the players under 25 with the brightest futures.

8. Hideki Matsuyama

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    Hideki Matsuyama has risen to hero status in Japan.
    Hideki Matsuyama has risen to hero status in Japan.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Don't try to look for information about Hideki Matsuyama at PGATour.com.

    And there's a good reason for that. The 21-year-old native of Japan isn't a member of the PGA Tour.

    That takes nothing away from what the latest star from his country has accomplished.

    He won the Asian Amateur Championship twice and won five times on the Japan Golf Tour.

    But look at what he did in 2013.

    He finished tied for 10th in the U.S. Open, tied for sixth in the British Open and tied for 19th in the PGA Championship. All of that just two years after a tie for 27th in the 2011 Masters.

    Not a bad finish for a 19-year-old making his first trip to Augusta National. He was low amateur in the Masters and in Aug. 2012 became the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world.

    Matsuyama has played in seven PGA Tour-sanctioned events, he's posted six top-25 finishes.

    It seems very clear that this guy has as much potential as anyone to become a very big star.

7. Russell Henley

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    At the 2013 Sony Open, Russell Henley was the man.
    At the 2013 Sony Open, Russell Henley was the man.Associated Press

    A year ago, Russell Henley was in the top 50 of all but three of what PGATour.com refers to as standard statistics. Included in those are his ninth-place ranking in strokes gained putting.

    Making a lot of putts is a really good way to win a golf tournament and Henley did just that in the 2013 Sony Open. In winning his first PGA Tour event, Henley set a tournament scoring record of 24-under par.

    What got the golf world's attention, however, was the five straight birdies he made to close out Sunday's round of 63.

    Henley had been a superstar on the Web.com Tour, winning three times and posting 10 top-25 finishes in 31 starts on that tour.

    Thus far in 2014, Henley's wheels have been spinning. his best finish was a tie for 27th at the Hyuandi Tournament of Champions. Just as his putting propelled him in 2013, it has dragged him down in 2014. He's ranked 117th in the strokes gained putting category.

    Hensley has missed a couple cuts and played ho-hum golf in four other events.

    When the putting stroke starts to click, watch out.

6. Seung-Yul Noh

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    Seung-Yul Noh has the talent to become a big player in the game.
    Seung-Yul Noh has the talent to become a big player in the game.Stephen Morton/Associated Press

    Think about this for a minute.

    Seung-Yul Noh, at age 18, won the 2008 Midea China Classic. At age 20, he won a European Tour event, the 2010 Maybank Malaysia Open.

    Then in 2012, he burst on the PGA Tour scene, winning $1.6 million and finishing 40th in the FedEx Cup standings.

    Admittedly, Noh had a big drop in success in 2013 on the PGA Tour, but he did win in the Nationwide Children's Hospital event on the Web.com tour.

    He dropped from 62nd to 167th in the strokes gained putting category last year and that led to him making just 11 cuts in 25 starts.

    But, as is often noted in college basketball circles when it gets to NCAA Tournament time, what's important is his body of work and his is impressive for a 22-year-old.

    There's not much to him, as he weighs only 165 pounds. But 76 of his drives in 2013 measured at 300 yards or more.

    The kid is still learning where to get the best burgers in the United States. His schooling on how to be a great professional golfer continues as well.

5. Patrick Reed

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    Patrick Reed and wife share a kiss with the winner's trophy at the Humana Challenge.
    Patrick Reed and wife share a kiss with the winner's trophy at the Humana Challenge.(Rodrigo Pena/AP Images for Huma/Associated Press

    If there's a guy trending upward on the PGA Tour who is under 25, Patrick Reed is his name.

    A year ago, in his first season as a PGA Tour pro, he made cuts in 16 of his 26 starts and racked up five top-10 finishes including a victory at the Wyndham Championship.

    Patrick Reed won again a couple weeks ago at the Humana Challenge, giving him two wins in 31 starts, not to mention two wins in his last nine starts.

    So just how heady is that company? He is one of only three (Rory McIlroy and Harris English are the others) to have multiple PGA Tour wins under age 25.

    An interesting quirk to what is quickly becoming a dazzling resume is the fact that Reed has yet to play in a major championship.

    He helped Augusta State win back-to-back NCAA titles in 2010 and 2011, going 6-0 in match play those two years.

    This is a young man who knows how to win, at the college level and now at the PGA Tour level. Just as importantly, he knows how difficult it is to even get in position to win. In 2012, he Monday-qualified for six PGA Tour events and played in a total of 12. Of those, he made the cut in seven and posted four top-25 finishes.

    His stats page features seven categories in which he's in the top 10. Reed was one of the best putters on tour from five feet and in.

    It will be great fun to see how he does in the majors this year.

4. Harris English

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    Harris English has that wonderful combination of power and touch.
    Harris English has that wonderful combination of power and touch.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Another in the line of really, really good golfers to come out of the University of Georgia, Harris English is one of the guys who deserves the "can't-miss" tag. He wouldn't want it, but he surely looks like the guy who is a lock to do special things in professional golf.

    English is in his third year on the PGA Tour and has missed just 10 of 50 cuts, including making 22 of 27 in 2012. And he's done so with a driver, that while dangerous in the distance it can propel a tee shot, was very wide in his first two years.

    He's worked on that and, through seven events in 2014, is hitting almost 62 percent of measured fairways. If the big stick is about to find the short grass on a regular basis, even better things will start happening for him.

    He's relatively inexperienced in the majors, but had his best finish in last year's British Open, tying for 15th.

    English is tall, hits the ball far and will be hard to miss at the top of leaderboards this summer.

3. Matteo Manassero

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    Matteo Manassero has nothing but blue skies ahead of him.
    Matteo Manassero has nothing but blue skies ahead of him.Associated Press

    It seems like the name Matteo Manassero has been spoken for several years now. Which is a pretty good trick since the good-looking Italian is just 20 years old.

    But consider this. At the ripe old age of 16, he became the youngest ever to win the British Amateur Championship. Manassero briefly held the record of being the youngest to make the cut at the Masters. Oh, did I mention he also became the youngest to ever win a European Tour event? He now has two wins on the European Tour before the age of 18.

    He jumped into the top 30 of the Official World Golf Rankings after winning the 2013 BMW PGA Championship, getting that win with a birdie on the fourth playoff hole.

    Manassero has played primarily on the European Tour but has played in all four majors, his best showing being a tie for 13th in the 2009 British Open. He played in nine PGA Tour events last year with limited success.

    The fact that he is one of the top-ranked putters on the European Tour gives him an edge on the other young guys who struggle with putting.

2. Jordan Spieth

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    Jordan Spieth looks to be the man who has it all.
    Jordan Spieth looks to be the man who has it all.Associated Press

    Imagine being a highly-accomplished 19-year-old amateur who made the decision to turn professional but went into the beginning of his first season as a pro with no status.

    Not on the Web.com Tour or the PGA Tour.


    So what does Jordan Spieth do? Well, how about going out and having one of the all-time great rookie seasons in the history of the sport?

    He got started through sponsor's exemptions and quickly started posting top-10 finishes.

    He won an event, the John Deere Classic, making him the youngest to win on the PGA Tour in 82 years, not to mention the fourth-youngest winner ever.

    He was tough in the FedEx Cup playoffs and was a solid (not to mention the youngest) member of Fred Couples' U.S. team in the Presidents Cup. He finished the season ranked 22nd in the Official World Golf Rankings and $4 million in his bank account.

    He's a superstar-in-the-making and it won't take long for him to take that next step up.

1. Rory McIroy

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    Rory McIlroy hopes to get his driving straightened out in 2014.
    Rory McIlroy hopes to get his driving straightened out in 2014.Associated Press

    Rory McIlroy has been tracking toward a spot among the elite of professional golf for a while even though he's only 24 years old.

    Although he's won the PGA Tour money title and the European Order of Merit in 2012 and ascended to the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings, his reign there was much shorter than might have been expected.

    Then came a multi-million dollar deal with Nike Golf, a girlfriend (Caroline Wozniacki), some petulant behavior as he struggled with all that was going around him. Last season was pretty much a disaster for him, but things seemed to improve the later into the year he went.

    McIlroy has won two majors (2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship) and when he's gotten in tune with his equipment, he's proven just how good a player he can be.

    He's got a two-major lead on the rest of the players on this list. Don't be surprised when his career ends if he has several more than the others.