British Open 2010: Top-Five Young Guns to Watch at St. Andrews
The potential success of the five players at, or under, the age of 22 competing at the Open Championship may reveal future stars, major winners, and PGA Tour standouts.
Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood, Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa, and Jason Day will be the youngest players battling for glory at this year's British Open.
In the midst of the media frenzy over Tiger Woods' new putter and Phil Mickelson's chances of capturing the elusive Open Championship, these young guns have gone under the radar.
But from the fierce play of Fowler at this year's Memorial tournament, to Jason Day's first professional victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, this batch of talented youth have generated a fresh level of intrigue into what the future holds for professional golf.
Jason Day: 22-years-old
The highlight of Jason Day's PGA Tour season has undeniably been his breakthrough win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Day tied for ninth place at last week's AT&T National and hopes to ride that momentum into this week's British Open at St. Andrews.
His extreme length off the tee (averaging 295 yards, No.13 on Tour) will serve him well at the Old Course if he can add a level of precision to his depth.
Playing in his first Open Championship, the most crucial element for the young Aussie to make the cut will be how he holds up on the undulating, complex putting greens of the Old Course.
Rory McIlroy: 21-years-old
Rory McIlroy, a 21-year-old from Northern Ireland, will be playing in his second Open Championship after finishing tied for 47th last year.
McIlroy generated major media attention when he shot a record-tying round of 62 in the final round at the Quail Hollow Championship, beating out Phil Mickelson and earning his first professional win.
Though McIlroy has not played the most consistent golf since his victory, his native knowledge of links courses like St. Andrews provides him with a prime advantage over his competition.
Overall, between McIlroy's experience and his ambitious nature, he has the best chance to make the cut among his young peers.
Rickie Fowler: 21-years-old
At just 5'9", 150 pounds, and in his first competitive season on the PGA Tour, Rickie Fowler has played better golf and made more of an impact than any of his peers.
Fowler's fast-paced, aggressive game has landed him five top 10 finishes in the 11 cuts he's made. Most notably, Fowler finished in second place at the Phoenix Waste Management Open and the Memorial Tournament.
The Memorial was both a learning experience and a flash of brilliance for Fowler. He played almost flawless golf during the first three rounds only to watch his lead slip away after a costly error in his final round.
However, to play at such a high level on one of the more difficult courses and pressure-filled events on the PGA Tour, speaks volumes as to what his future holds.
Fowler is my go-to guy (I played with him once in high school, my claim to fame), and is expected to make the cut and perhaps even earn top 25 honors.
Chris Wood: 22-years-old
Chris Wood has had incredible success at the two previous British Opens, finishing tied for third last year and tied for fifth the year before.
Wood's history on links courses and wide-ranging experience brands him not just worthy of making the cut, but as a potential top 10 finisher.
However, Wood has only competed in three events this season on the PGA Tour, making just one cut at the Accenture Match Play where he finished tied for 33rd, creating a shadow of doubt around his chances.
Ryo Ishikawa: 18-years-old
Ryo Ishikawa was born in 1991.
Feel old yet?
Ishikawa is without a doubt one of the most talented up-and-coming golfers in the world.
He has already won eight times on the Japanese Tour and most recently finished tied for 33rd at this year's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
Though his game has been somewhat erratic thus far in PGA Tour events, when you think about just how young he really is, the sky is the limit for his future.
Ishikawa has struggled most with hitting greens in regulation, where he ranks No. 185 on Tour and which could potentially be the deciding factor for whether or not he makes the cut at the Open Championship.
But, Ishikawa proved his reliability under pressure at the U.S. Open and may be able to use that success as an impetus as he faces the brutal conditions of St. Andrews.