What We Learned About Golf's Top Young Stars at the 2014 Majors

Mike DudurichContributor IAugust 15, 2014

This man was a majors dominator in 2014.
This man was a majors dominator in 2014.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

All things considered, the best of golf's young stars did just fine in the game's recently completed major championship season.

At the top end of the five-man group of young guns, Rory McIlroy, 25, won a pair of majors, back-to-back no less, and finished in the top 10 in another.

At the bottom end, Patrick Reed was a non-factor in any of golf's biggest events. Might that have had anything to do with his now-infamous interview in which he declared himself a top-five player in the world?

What did we learn about these young guns as they made their way through golf's biggest events?

The future of the game is in very good hands, thank you.

This group includes the dominant player in the game, his closest pursuer, a player just rounding into form, a 20-year-old with more potential than any of the others and a two-time winner this year on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy really isn't looked at like a young gun, not after having won four major titles at the age of 25. And winning two in a row this year makes him the big dog in the game.

The level of play he's exhibited this summer has defied description at times with finishes of T8, T23, 1 and 1. But we learned he can win tournaments a number of ways. He can run away from his pursuers, he can grind it out with them and he can come from behind to win.

We learned that Rickie Fowler (T5, T2, T2 and T3) has done a lot of growing up in terms of a major competitor this year. The 25-year-old had produced more flash than substance to this point in his career, but he has had the best year in the majors other than the guy named McIlroy.

Fowler found whatever it was that's required to contend in major championships, and, more importantly, we learned he was really upset about his finish in the PGA Championship. Four top-five finishes look good on the stat sheet, but the Oklahoma State kid wants to win.

Twenty-six-year-old Jason Day (T20, T4, T58 and T15) gets something of a pass because a big chunk of his season was spent not playing golf. His wrist and thumb injuries, that struck after he won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, nagged him for a long time.

But he found a way to get into a T4 at Pinehurst and was nipping at the contenders' heels Sunday at the PGA Championship before finishing 15th. We learned that he's a battler and that good golf is there, but he needs to get healthy.

Jordan Spieth ( T2, T17, T36 and MC) came into 2014 with great promise and expectations. After becoming a serious PGA star in 2013, Spieth seemed on the verge of fulfilling that promise at the Masters, battling Bubba Watson halfway through the final round before making a pair of bogeys and finishing second.

Jason Day could be big in 2015.
Jason Day could be big in 2015.Warren Little/Getty Images

Spieth didn't do much after that in major competition, allowing us to learn that the 21-year-old is indeed human, and it's not going to be a fast lane to the Hall of Fame.

Patrick Reed (MC, T35, MC and T59) won two regular PGA Tour events this year, including the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, but he missed two cuts and had two awful finishes in the majors.

What we learned about Reed is there is some serious lack of maturity involved with 23-year-old Reed. He can obviously play; those two wins earned him a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, but he certainly wasn't mature enough to handle the heat of golf's majors.

Generally speaking, we learned this core group of young players has the capability of providing golf fans lots of excitement for the next couple of decades. Their overall performance in the majors proves most of them can handle the heat, and they'll all have that to build on in 2015.