From Rory McIlroy to Patrick Reed to Brooks Koepka, it was a great year for the young guns in golf. But who are the top five players 25 years old and under heading to 2015? Golfchannel.com writers weigh in:
By RYAN LAVNER
1. Rory McIlroy, 25: He’s the best player not just in his age group but in the world. The only thing keeping Rory from another year of global domination is off-course distractions.
2. Brooks Koepka, 24: His win in Turkey served as yet another reminder of his awesome potential. Now that he’s a full-fledged PGA Tour member, and inside the top 50 in the world, he’s poised for a multiple-win season in the States.
3. Hideki Matsuyama, 22: His week-to-week inconsistency keeps him from being higher on this list, but he’s a world-class ball-striker who hasn’t even come close to hitting his ceiling.
4. Patrick Reed, 24: You never know when his good weeks will come, but when they arrive, boy, they are spectacular. If he ever sharpens his long game, he’ll live up to his potential as a top-5 player.
5. Jordan Spieth, 21: He wore down during his first full season as a pro, and you can bet that won’t happen again. Sure, his ball-striking occasionally suffers, but this gamer has always been able to maximize his skill set because of his intangibles (clutch putting, insatiable desire to succeed, etc.).
By JASON SOBEL
1. Rory McIlroy. Let’s see … four majors … No. 1 in the world … yeah, I think he can top this list.
2. Jordan Spieth. He’s so good (and mature) at 21 that people have almost taken him for granted.
3. Victor Dubuisson. The man who left school early (before his teenage years) plays with flair.
4. Harris English. Struggled for the latter part of this year, but too good for that to last.
5. Brooks Koepka. Fun fact: Will turn 25 on May 3 – one day before McIlroy turns 26.
By REX HOGGARD
It doesn’t really matter what type of “best of” list you’re working on these days it nearly always begins with Rory McIlroy’s name, but when compiling a collection of the top-5 best male players 25 and under it’s the consensus choice to start with the Ulsterman.
After McIlroy, however, things get more interesting.
Patrick Reed may not be the most popular player on the planet, but after three wins (including a World Golf Championship) and a solid Ryder Cup debut he’s earned the penultimate spot on the list.
Similarly Jordan Spieth is an easy choice. Although he has just one PGA Tour victory (2013 John Deere Classic) his runner-up finish at the 2014 Masters and impressive starts at last year’s Presidents Cup and this year’s Ryder Cup have proven that there is plenty of substance to the Texan.
Things become a little more clouded down the list. Brooks Koepka’s victory on Sunday at the Turkish Airlines Open was his first at the “big league” level, but the consensus among observers is that he’s a five-tool player and his globetrotting route to the Tour will only help in his development.
And finally, at 22-years-old Hideki Matsuyama has plenty of time to work his way up the list. Matsuyama won this year’s Memorial, already has five victories on the Japan Golf Tour and went 1-3-1 in his rookie turn at the 2013 Presidents Cup.