After a decade of golf dominated by Tiger Woods, new players begin to emerge and flourish in larger tournaments. Although Woods is still participating, he is no threat to the leader board with a 7 over par at yesterday's PGA Championship. The door is now open for other potential superstars. Let's take a look at these rising stars.
Rory McIlroy has yet to reach his full potential. The Northern Ireland golfer had his first win in 2009 on the European Tour and went on to represent Europe in the 2010 Ryder Cup. He was finally Internationally recognized after winning the U.S. Open with a record 16-under-par at Congressional Country Club. With his first Major win under his belt, McIlroy is poised to become the next Tiger Woods.
Hunter Mahan, a rising U.S. star, is also a younger player eager to fill the spot left open by Woods. After turning professional in 2003, Mahan went on to get his first PGA Tour victory at the Travelers Championship and lifted himself into the top 100 of the Official World Golf Rankings. He has also won the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2010. While Hunter hasn't had any Major wins, he has been rising in the ranks at each Major, placing as high as sixth place. Mahan is another amazing player ready to upgrade to superstar status (and not because of his boy band "Golf Boys").
Brendan Steele, another American golfer, has been doing spectacularly in the PGA Championship and will continue to do so in future Majors. Brendan became a pro golfer in 2005 and went on to win the Golden State Tour four times and the 2010 Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island. Steele's breakthrough was when he won the Valero Texas Open which not only gave him a 1.1 million dollar payday, a Tour card until 2013 and an invitation to The Players Championship, Bridgestone Invitational, 2011 PGA Championship and the 2012 Masters, but he was moved up from 115th to 19th in the FedEx Cup standings. With a first place position in the PGA championship at the moment, Brendan Steele will be tough competition in the years to come.
Charl Schwartzel, a South African professional golfer, turned pro in 2002 and qualified for the European Tour later that year. Schwartzel went on to get six European tour victories including the Dunhill Championship, the Open de Espana, the Madrid Masters, the African Open and the Joburg Open twice. His best performance so far has been at the 75th Masters Tournament in 2011 where he won his first Major after overcoming a four stroke deficit. This win moved him up to 11th from 29th in the Official World Golf Rankings and garnered him international recognition.
Keegan Bradley turned pro in 2008 and plays on the PGA Tour. His first PGA Tour victory was in the HP Byron Nelson Championship, where he defeated his opponent, Ryan Palmer in a playoff. While he is still new and inexperienced, Bradley shows much potential. He is currently participating in the PGA Championship where he is doing extremely well as he is in the top 10 at this moment.