Rickie Fowler and the Top 10 Golfers Under 25
A feature of world golf over the past couple of seasons has been the impact of young players.
Several golfers in their mid-20s have come on to the scene and impressed . The likes of Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Kim Kyung-tae are big parts of the new generation of golf that's beginning to take centre stage.
But here is a look at an even younger group of players, those aged under 25 years.
This is a glimpse into the future of golf.
10. Jordan Spieth (USA, Age 18)
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There are several more established young golfers playing on professional circuits around the world, but few have the talent of 18-year-old amateur Jordan Spieth.
This year, the young American underlined his immense promise as he became the only golfer other than Tiger Woods to win the US Junior Amateur multiple times.
Spieth has already appeared twice on the PGA Tour, being given an exemption to play in the last two HP Byron Nelson Championships. In 2010, he finished the tournament tied for 16th place, becoming the sixth-youngest player to make the cut at a PGA Tour event. He made the cut again this year and finished tied for 32nd.
The No. 2 ranked amateur in the world was also a key member of the USA in this year’s Walker Cup.
A Texas native, Spieth has committed to play his college golf at the University of Texas.
Look out for him to feature more regularly as an amateur during next season’s PGA Tour.
9. Danny Lee (New Zealand, Age 21)
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Korean-born New Zealander Danny Lee had a hugely promising start to his golf career.
He announced himself to the golfing world by winning the US Amateur Championship in 2008, beating Tiger Woods’ record to become the youngest player at the time to win the event.
Then in 2009, Lee won the European Tour’s Johnnie Walker Classic still as an amateur, which at the time made him the youngest ever player to win an event on the European Tour.
He established himself as the No. 1 amateur golfer in the world until he turned pro in April 2009.
Since then, Lee has struggled for form and failed to make much of an impact on the PGA and European Tours.
However, he showed signs of fulfilling his early promise with a solid 2011 season which included a recent Nationwide Tour win in the WNB Golf Classic and a climb back up to 209 in the world rankings.
Still only 21, Lee is set to return to the PGA Tour in 2012 and will do so a far more experienced and balanced player.
8. Bud Cauley (USA, Age 20)
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Bud Cauley is quickly rising up the ranks of world golf since turning professional this year.
The 20-year-old enjoyed a stellar college career at the University of Alabama where he established himself as a future star of the game.
He was a three-time first-team Golfweek All-American during his three years at Alabama. After finishing his junior year, Cauley qualified for the 2011 U.S. Open and decided to turn professional, foregoing his senior season.
He started his professional career promisingly and did not miss a cut in his first four PGA Tour events which included a tied for fourth at this year’s Viking Classic.
Cauley also made the cut at this year’s U.S. Open, finishing tied for 63rd. Recently, he continued his impressive season on the PGA Tour with a third place finish at the Frys.com Open and a tie for 15th in the McGladrey Classic.
He has steadily climbed his way up to 240th in the world rankings.
7. Patrick Cantlay (USA, Age 19)
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As the No. 1 amateur player in the world, Patrick Cantlay is a golfer a lot of people are talking about.
The UCLA Bruin has enjoyed a fruitful 2011 which included an appearance for the United States at the Walker Cup.
At just 19, Cantlay qualified for the 2011 U.S. Open. He went on to make the cut and finish tied for 21st—the best finish by an amateur.
He showed his undoubted potential again at the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship in June where he set a course record 60.
The Californian also won the Haskins Award as the most outstanding college golfer in 2011.
Cantlay shows experience and confidence on the course that belies his age and he has shown no sign of letting his early success go to his head.
He plans to see out his full college career before turning professional.
6. Noh Seung-Yul (South Korea, Age 20)
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At just 20 years of age, Noh Seung-yul has already notched up two professional tournament wins and is currently ranked as the 104th best golfer in the world.
After turning professional back in 2007, the South Korean has made a big splash on the Asian Tour and more recently, the European Tour.
In his first full season on the Asian Tour, Noh won the Midea China Classic and was named the tour’s rookie of the year.
Then in 2010, he won the Maybank Malaysian Open which was co-sanctioned with the European Tour. The win made him the second youngest winner ever on the European Tour after number nine on this list, Danny Lee.
He finished 2010 as the leader of the Asian Tour money list and ranked 34th on the European Tour Order of Merit.
He has also impressed on the big stage over the last two years with top 30 finishes in this year’s U.S. Open and The Open Championship, along with a tie for 28th in last year’s PGA Championship.
5. Ryo Ishikawa (Japan, Age 20)
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The Japanese phenom gained worldwide headlines in 2007 at the incredibly young age of 15.
That was when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup, as an amateur in his first ever tour appearance, becoming the youngest player to win on the Japan Golf Tour.
He turned professional in 2008 and quickly rose up the world rankings—breaking the record for the youngest player ever to reach the top 50 and 100.
Ishikawa has since racked up 10 professional wins despite only just turning 20, but all have come in his native Japan. He has failed to make much of a splash yet in USA or Europe.
But in 2011, he finally looked like he may be adapting to golf in the United States as he tied for 20th in the Masters and then tied for 30th in the US Open, playing some attractive and bold golf along the way.
Ishikawa currently sits at No. 47 in the world and is poised to take the next step in his career as he gets more experience and consistency in his game.
4. Rickie Fowler (USA, Age 22)
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After an impressive amateur career at Oklahoma State University, Rickie Fowler has quickly become one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour.
Fowler put in several impressive performances in his first couple of seasons on the PGA Tour including three runner-up finishes. In his first full season on tour in 2010, he was awarded the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
Also that year, Fowler was chosen as a captain’s pick for the US Ryder Cup team. He was just 21 at the time, making him the youngest US Ryder Cup player ever.
He didn't let the team down either. Fowler famously birdied the last four holes in his singles match with Edoardo Molinari to halve the match.
In this year’s Open Championship, Fowler had his best finish in a major when he came in tied for fifth, and he backed that up with yet another second place tour finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Fowler finally had his maiden professional tournament victory earlier this month in the OneAsia Tour's Kolon Korea Open—a six-shot win over Rory McIlroy—which saw him climb to his current world ranking of 23.
3. Matteo Manassero (Italy, Age 18)
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One of the hottest young golfers in Europe at the moment is the 18-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero who has already set several records in his young career.
As a 16-year-old amateur, Manassero finished tied for 13th in the 2009 Open Championship. The following year, while still only 16, he then became the youngest player ever to make the cut at the Masters.
He turned professional shortly after and has since gone on to claim two wins on the European Tour—the 2010 Castello Masters Costa Azahar and the 2011 Maybank Malaysian Open.
Both of these wins surpassed Danny Lee’s record for the youngest European Tour winner.
Manassero has jumped into the top 50 golfers in the world, currently holding 44th place, and with the form he has shown at just 18 years old, it looks like it won’t be long before he threatens the top 10.
2. Jason Day (Australia, Age 23)
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Australian Jason Day has enjoyed a breakout year in 2011 which has seen him rocket up to seventh in the world.
Unlike most players on this list, it wasn't a rapid rise to stardom for Day. Now 23, Day has taken a steadier approach since turning professional back in 2006.
It was then he began competing in PGA and Nationwide Tour events with just moderate success—although he won his first Nationwide Tour event in 2007, the Legend Financial Group Classic, becoming the youngest player to win on any of the PGA Tour's three tours.
It took Day until 2010 for his next win when he took out the HP Byron Nelson Championship to become the youngest Australian to win a PGA Tour event.
Day then came extremely close to winning a major twice this year. In both the Masters and the US Open, his first appearance in each event, he managed second place and flirted with the lead on both occasions.
He has proven to be a very consistent performer over the last two years and a big win looks like it is just around the corner.
1. Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland, Age 22)
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The 22-year-old Rory McIlroy has the golfing world at his feet.
Long touted as a future world No. 1, McIlroy has done nothing to suggest otherwise. He has steadily climbed up the world rankings to No. 3 and is putting in consistent performances on the course.
The Northern Irishman has registered three professional wins since turning professional in 2007—most famously winning this year’s U.S. Open.
The victory came not long after his nightmare fourth round at Augusta where he blew a chance to win the Masters after leading by four strokes after three rounds.
This showed the character of the young man to bounce back so quickly from his mistakes and learn from them.
The U.S. Open was his third title after winning the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 and the PGA Tour’s Quail Hollow Championship in 2010.
But most impressive is his list of high finishes in major events.
Before winning the U.S. Open this year, McIlroy managed to tie for 10th in 2009, he tied for third in last year’s Open Championship at St Andrews and had two consecutive tied-for-third finishes in the PGA Championship in 2009 and 2010.