PGA

10 Best Young Players on PGA Tour

Fred AltvaterContributor IIMarch 31, 2014

10 Best Young Players on PGA Tour

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    Is Rory McIlroy the best player under 30 on the PGA Tour?
    Is Rory McIlroy the best player under 30 on the PGA Tour?Associated Press

    With the proliferation of talented golfers under the age of 30 winning PGA Tour events, who is the best young golfer currently on the PGA Tour?

    Rory McIlroy (24), Keegan Bradley (27) and Webb Simpson (28) all have major championship trophies on their mantles.

    Patrick Reed, at the tender age of 23, has three PGA Tour wins and is confident that he is one of the five best players in the world. 

    A few who did not make this list include, Rickie Fowler (25), Ryo Ishikawa (22) and Gary Woodland (29).

    Brooks Koepka (23) and Peter Uihlein (24) both have wins in Europe, but are not yet members of the PGA Tour. 

    Dustin Johnson has been close to winning majors and has won at least one PGA Tour event each year for the past six years, but he will turn 30 in June. 

    Here is a list of the 10 best young players on the PGA Tour.

10. Hideki Matsuyama

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    Hideki Matsuyama is a rookie on the PGA Tour.
    Hideki Matsuyama is a rookie on the PGA Tour.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Even though 22-year-old Hideki Matsuyama is a rookie, he has become one of the best young players on the PGA Tour.

    He has won five events on the Japan Golf Tour, finished T-10 in the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion and T-8 at the Open Championship last year.

    He also earned a spot on the International Team for the Presidents Cup last October.

    Thus far in 2014, Matsuyama has entered nine PGA Tour events and finished inside the top 25 six times.

    He collected two top-10 finishes with a T-3 at the Frys.com Open and T-4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    He has earned $889,000 this season, ranks No. 26 in the world and No. 35 in the FedEx Cup race.

    Don't be surprised if you see him holding a trophy soon.

9. Chesson Hadley

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    Chesson Hadley won in Puerto Rico.
    Chesson Hadley won in Puerto Rico.Ricardo Arduengo/Associated Press

    Chesson Hadley is another rookie on the PGA Tour and found the winners circle in the Puerto Rico Open.

    After missing six cuts in his first nine tournaments, Hadley finished T-24 in the Honda Classic, won in Puerto Rico, was T-14 at the Valspar Championship and T-26 in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    After the Palmer tournament, he had earned $1.2 million for the year and was No. 24 in the FedEx Cup standings.

    He started the week at No. 56 in the Official World Golf Rankings and needed a high finish at the Valero Texas Open to qualify for the Masters.

    He shot a solid 69 on Thursday, but rounds of 73-71-80 left him at five over par, good for T-56 in San Antonio. 

    It does not appear that he will make the trip down Magnolia Lane this year.

     

8. Russell Henley

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    Russell Henley got his second win at the Honda Classic.
    Russell Henley got his second win at the Honda Classic.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Russell Henley won the first PGA Tour event in which he was eligible to enter last January at the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii.

    He went on to post three top-10 finishes last year and won $2 million.

    After starting slowly this season, he won his second title at the Honda Classic in March. 

    He is No. 23 in the FedEx Cup race, No. 50 in the world rankings and has earned $1.2 million this season.

7. Harris English

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    Harris English has not missed a cut in 2013-14.
    Harris English has not missed a cut in 2013-14.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Of all the young golfers listed, Harris English is the most consistent and one of only four golfers under the age of 25 to have more than one win on tour.

    Russell Henley, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy are the other three members of that exclusive club.

    In just his second year on tour, he already has two wins, 10 top-10 finishes and has amassed $5.9 million in career earnings. 

    English won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba (Mexico's only PGA Tour event) in November in the wrap-around schedule and has only finished outside the top 25 in four of his 13 starts this season.

    At No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 36 in the world rankings, he is gaining confidence with every round and has the perfect game for Augusta National.

     

     

6. Jordan Spieth

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    Jordan Spieth is the youngest player in this list.
    Jordan Spieth is the youngest player in this list.Matt York/Associated Press

    Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic, was chosen as a Captain's pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup Team and won the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award.

    He has continued his stellar play this year with a runner-up finish at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and seven top-25 finishes in nine starts.

    He was ranked No. 13 in the world and No. 13 on the FedEx Cup after the Arnold Palmer Invitational. A 10th-place finish at the Valero Texas Open will improve these numbers.

    For Spieth, it is all about winning. 

    If he can survive the sophomore jinx and not put too much pressure on himself, he will be winning in bunches.

5. Webb Simpson

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    Webb Simpson is only 28 years old.
    Webb Simpson is only 28 years old.Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    With a win at the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour wins, it is hard to think of Webb Simpson as one of the young players on tour, but he is only 28 years old.

    He has already won $2 million with a win and five top-10 finishes in his nine starts this season.

    Simpson is No. 21 in the world and No. 8 in the 2014 FedEx Cup race.

    Great iron play and a streaky putter make him a good bet on difficult golf courses.

4. Jason Day

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    Jason Day won the WGC-Accenture Match Play.
    Jason Day won the WGC-Accenture Match Play.Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Jason Day turned professional at the age of 19. He qualified for the PGA Tour in 2008 via the Web.com (Nationwide) Tour. 

    In his six years on tour, he has two wins, six runners-up and has won nearly $16 million.

    Over the last 13 major championships, Day has posted six top-10 finishes. He finished third in the Masters, tied for runner-up in the U.S. Open and was T-8 in the PGA Championship last year.

    His win at Royal Melbourne in the World Cup last fall and a big win this year at the WGC-Accenture Match Play prove that he is a big-game hunter and not afraid of the spotlight.

    Day has climbed to No. 4 in the world and is looking to climb even higher.

    Two top-10 finishes in the last three Masters make a big favorite heading to Augusta this year.

3. Keegan Bradley

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    Keegan Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship.
    Keegan Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Keegan Bradley is another of the young guys that already has a major championship title on his resume.

    At just 27 years old, he also has won the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone and the 2011 Byron Nelson Championship.

    One of the longer players on tour, he possesses a solid iron game and is not afraid to see his name on the leaderboard.

    Bradley has one runner-up and seven top-25 finishes in his 10 starts this season. 

    He has earned $1.4 million, is No. 17 in the FedEx Cup and No. 18 in the world.

     

     

2. Patrick Reed

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    Patrick Reed holding the 2014 WGC-Cadillac trophy.
    Patrick Reed holding the 2014 WGC-Cadillac trophy.Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Patrick Reed does not lack for confidence in himself or his golf game.

    We aren't sure he is one of the top five players in the world just yet, but he is definitely one of the five best young players on the PGA Tour.

    He won his second title of the year at the WGC-Cadillac at Trump Doral, and with over $3 million in earnings was No. 2 in the 2014 FedEx Cup standings after the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Reed is just 23 years old; his first win came last August in a playoff versus Jordan Spieth at the Wyndham Championship.

    Three wins in less than seven months has moved him up to No. 22 in the world, and he will be making his first appearance in the Masters.

    He is aggressive and plays with a confident swagger on the golf course.

    Just the sort of player U.S. Ryder Cup team captain Tom Watson will be looking for in September.

1. Rory McIlroy

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    Rory McIlroy is still the best young player on tour.
    Rory McIlroy is still the best young player on tour.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Until further notice, 24-year-old Rory McIlroy is the best young player, not only on the PGA Tour, but in the world.

    He won two major championships by eight strokes each. No one other than Tiger Woods does that kind of stuff.

    After winning the money titles on both the PGA and European Tours in 2012, he struggled in 2013.

    McIlroy's win in the Australian Open over Adam Scott at Royal Melbourne last fall served notice that he was back.

    He still has not won in the U.S. since the 2012 BMW Championship, but has been showing improvement this year.

    He held the 54-hole lead at the Honda Classic, but struggled on Sunday and lost in a playoff.

    He has fallen from No. 1 to No. 7 in the world, but golf fans can expect him to move back up the world rankings in the near future.

    He is still one of the best drivers of the golf ball in the world, and when he puts it all together, birdies come in bunches.

     

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