For the last several years on the PGA Tour it’s been Tiger and Phil, then everyone else. While there’s been the occasional Vijay Singh or Steve Stricker to challenge the top two, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks that Tiger and Phil aren’t the two top players in the world, with Tiger’s recent struggles not withstanding. But the question is not who will be the next to challenge the top two but how many of them will do so. The twenty-something’s are making their presence felt on the PGA Tour in 2010.
With Justin Rose’s win at The Memorial that brings the total to 10 players in their 20’s winning on tour this year in just 24 events. Last year only 6 players in their twenties won on tour the whole season. What’s so special about this year’s crop of youngsters? Basically it comes down to two words: No Fear. These guys believe they belong out here with the best in the world and they aren’t afraid to show it.
It’s been 13 years (wow, I’m feelin old) since Tiger Woods took Augusta National by storm and won his first Master’s at the age of 21. At that time, these young golfers were between the ages of 7 and 17. They saw a man who wasn’t afraid to step up and take the golf world by the throat and not let go. Now that same mentality is being shared by the likes of Anthony Kim and Rory McIlroy. Kim won in Houston this year for his third career win and followed that up the next week with a furious Sunday charge on the back nine at the Master’s that earned him a 3rd place finish, his best in a major. McIlroy set Quail Hollow on fire Sunday afternoon with a closing round 62 to out pace multiple major winners Angel Cabrera and Phil Mickelson while Tiger Woods sat at home after missing the cut.
In addition to those two, Dustin Johnson won for a second time at Pebble Beach which should make him one of the favorites heading into the U.S. Open in two weeks. Also, Camillo Villegas won again this year after picking up wins in the final two Fedex Cup events in 2008. Hunter Mahan has now won multiple times on tour. Even Adam Scott, who looked lost in 2009, has regained his winning ways. Throw in breakthrough wins for Derek Lamely in Puerto Rico, Jason Day at the Byron Nelson Championship, and Bill Haas at the Bob Hope Classic and you can see just how deep the young talent pool is on tour this year. This isn’t even taking into account 21 year old Rickie Fowler, who already has two runner-up finishes in his first full season and seems destined for several victories in his bright PGA Tour future.
The question remains which of these men will be able to challenge consistently in the major championships, golf’s toughest tests. But given the level of talent and their no fear attitudes it’s a good bet that multiple major champions will come from this group. While Tiger and Phil may be the top two in the world now, these young guns have announced their presence with authority.