Friday, November 29, 2019
PGA’s Hungry Young Guns on the Rise
The upcoming crop of young PGA pros as simply been outstanding over the past few years. Season after season, there seems to be some hype surrounding a player thought to be the "next one."
Names like Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, Joaquin Niemann, Collin Morikawa, and Ashkay Bhatia are looking to take over the PGA before long. Four of them have already made it onto the PGA Tour (getting their player's card or via exemptions), with the exception of Bhatia, who turned pro in September 2019, and three of them have already captured an event on the Tour.
Of course, it would be extremely presumptuous to believe anyone of these kids will eventually become the next Tiger Woods. But it is refreshing, and most importantly, essential for the PGA to welcome these standout youths in their ranks.
Most of these players were able to showcase their talent during their time in college. Hovland and Wolff were key members in Oklahoma State University's conquest at the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Golf National Championship, with Wolff rolling the title-clinching putt for OSU. Morikawa had a stellar stint with the University of California-Berkeley before making his debut at the 2019 RBC Canadian Open.
Niemann's road to the top of the golf sphere was a little different since he didn't choose the college route. The 21-year-old used the PGA's Latin branch to rise through the ranks and make it onto the big scene. With his first victory coming at this year's A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Niemann has firmly established himself amongst the top players in the world. All of this before he was even allowed to drink in the U.S.
Bhatia is still grinding away to make it to the Tour. The 17-year-old has got plenty of time to make it to the top, but expect to hear from him again sooner than later. With four appearances on the Tour, the teenager got to meet and play with the best in the world. Such an experience cannot be understated in the development of a young golfer and will serve Bhatia on his road to the PGA Tour.
Don't expect these young guns to make take over in 2020 and sweep all the majors. This is simply not realistic considering the resurgence of Tiger Woods and the continued dominance of veterans like Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy. However, you should still look out for their names during the smaller tournaments.
With fewer stars overflowing the leaderboard, the up-and-comers will need to capitalize on these smaller tournaments opportunities and make the most of it. But considering the amazing talent these golfers bring to the game, it should not come as a shock to see them contend for a high-profile title on a Sunday at some point in 2020. Watch out for Niemann and Wolff at this year's Masters, as they are currently the only ones of the group to have qualified to play at Augusta, next April.
Hovland, Wolff, Niemann, Morikawa, and Bhatia are only the most recent crop of highly-skilled young golfers. The previous crop of young stars included the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, and Xander Schauffele. All of them have now won multiple tournaments, with Thomas and Spieth (3!) capturing major titles along the way. The young up-and-comers should look up to these now-veterans who were in the exact same situation not too long ago.
In the end, it is essential to remember that a golf career can be a long and it's often a long series of ups and downs. Just like the veterans, the young rookies will need to take the time to develop their game to one day reach such a level of excellence.