In recent times there have been many a teen star that has started their career brilliantly with a win in their first year, after turning professional. But most find the transition from the amateur ranks to the professional ranks a difficult one.
Many of the golfers who turn professional in their teens tend to start with an early win but don't sustain it, and come back to the field. Maturing as seasoned professionals in their late 20's Aaron Baddeley, Ryo Ishikawa, Matteo Manassero and Rickie Fowler come to mind.
It has long been believed that professional golfers peak between the ages of 27 years old to 35 years old.
This is even true of Tiger Woods, who although he dominates the regular tour events, has not won a major (US Open 2008 was his last) since his 35th birthday. He won most of his "Majors" (8 out of 14) between the ages of 27 and 35.
With more "young guns" snapping at his heels, Tiger will find it increasingly more challenging as he approaches his 40th birthday.
Still, there have been players who have continued to win regularly in their 40's; golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk and Steve Striker to name a few. And the main reason is that they have looked after themselves physically, and have increased their longevity in the game compared with players in the past.
Another incentive for mature professional golfers has been the lucrative champions tour (over 50's) that has encouraged players in their 40's to stay in shape so they can continue to compete at the highest level until they reach 50 years old.
My picks are;
- Rory McIlroy
- Dustin Johnson
- Jason Day
- Jordan Spieth
- Keegan Bradley.
I haven't gone out on a limb with my predictions as these five are already proven winners on the PGA Tour and have the pedigree to win Majors which makes them stand out from the others.
Rory and Keegan have already won Majors, Dustin and Jason could have won their first major on numerous occasions.
Jordan knows how to get into contention and has notched up 2nd place four times in 2013. And looked like winning at Kapalua last week until Zac Johnson shot 66 in the last round to beat him by one shot.
After a tough year of changing equipment and off course issues like law suits with former management companies/agents, the year ended well for Rory, with him winning for the first time in 2013 at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club.
This will be a perfect springboard for him to launch his 2014 campaign and combined with his personal life back in order he announced his engagement to girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki (former number one ranked tennis player).
Mind you the engagement ring set him back 120,000 pounds which will be added incentive to play well and recoup the investment!
The former number one has slipped down the rankings, but I believe will bounce back this year.
With an all round ranking of 26th (8 categories of stats) in 2013 (which was an average year for him) he has the game to bounce back this year. Areas that require improvement are;
- Stroke Gained-Putting where he ranks 122nd
- Sand Saves where he ranks 158th.
He is a truly a world class player in every aspect. He has won 8 times on the PGA Tour and has had the opportunity to win majors at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and the US Open at Pebble Beach.
He is big guy (6'4") and could dunk and palm a basketball in year seven; in short he's very athletic.
Dustin like Rory travels all over the world to play, and draws the crowds out to watch him play. With the prodigious length he drives the ball and in 2014 ranks;
- Number one in G.I.R (84.03 %),
- All Round Ranking (1st)
- Birdie Average of 6.25 per round (1st)
Probably a little biased here but Jason is from Australia and he just keeps improving each year. After winning the Byron Nelson in 2010 his game has grown in leaps and bounds.
He's run second twice at the US Masters, and seems to play better in the "majors".
Winning the individual and the team title at the World Cup late last year was a huge boost for his confidence, as he had not won as a professional outside of the USA.
He has the game to compete in all conditions, and like Rory and Dustin, Jason needs to travel more outside of the PGA Tour to truly be considered a world class golfer.
Last year his score average was an impressive 69.763 and he ranked 11th on the money list. He drives it long off the tee, ranking in the top 20 each year on the PGA Tour.
Combine this with his Strokes Gained-Putting of -368 against the field, and a ranking of 29th in 2013, this is a recipe for low scoring. His all round ranking on the PGA Tour was 14th in 2013, and that puts him right up there with the best.
Expect good performances from Jason in the coming months leading up to the US Masters.
Keegan has left coach Jim Mclean late last year and has teamed up with Chuck Cook, who also coaches Jason Dufner and Luke Donald.
It is always an interesting time when players make a decision to change swing coaches, and not always is there a happy ending.
All I can add to that is that Jim and Chuck have similar swing philosophies so we will have to wait and see how things pan out.
Keegan has won three times on tour including a major (PGA Championship) and like the top three he bombs it off the tee (ranks 11th) and does everything else very well.
He is ranked inside the top 50 in all 8 major statistical categories, which correlates to an All Round Ranking of 4th.
And as he has publicly declared that Michael Jordan (Basketball Legend) is his Mental Coach, so it makes it even more mind boggling that he has changed swing coaches!
As he turns twenty eight in August he is in the zone where he can take his game and performance to the next level.
Jordan has only won once on the PGA Tour, but he is the first teenager to do so in 82 years!
Yes you read it right, 82 years since the last teenager won on the US Tour (that was Ralph Guldahl) and so nearly the only teenager to win twice, as he has finished 2nd four times since he turned professional.
A young player with huge amount of ability to perform at the highest level. He's a fierce competitor, and it's not confined just to the golf course. Jordan is the new breed who are "athlete first and golfer second".
At the last President's Cup (where he was the captains pick) he took on Mat Kuchar who is acknowledged as the best ping pong player on tour and beat him. Matt said "Jordan had a look in his eye that tells me I must be better prepared when we next meet at the table".
He is an also an accomplished basket ball player who can go up one on one against his brother Steve who plays guard at Brown University, and Jordan beats him regularly.
Jordan is ranked 3rd in the All Round Category and thrives on being in contention. I love watching him play as he seems from the outside to play with a lot of flow and freedom.
He is a young player who reminds me of Greg Norman in the 1980's, who the public wanted to pay money to watch play golf. The game needs more Jordan Spieth's and I look forward to following his progress in 2014 and beyond.
We have finally seen the coming of age of Adam Scott last year, and it will be interesting to follow the five players I have mentioned above and the up's and down's that they experience playing top level golf. We will watch the drama unfold on our TV's as they for victory, providing us with great moments to witness and enjoy.
And it is exciting that we might possibly be watching history being made and these young golfers try to break records and become the next generation of golf superstars.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
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