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Punch Shot: Ranking the top 5 under 25

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The kids are taking over both the PGA and LPGA tours, so it got our writers thinking about who are the top players (male or female) under 25 with the brightest futures. GolfChannel.com's writers ranked their top 5 below.

By JASON SOBEL

5. Harris English: It was a toss-up between English and Hideki Matsuyama, but I’m going with the guy who’s more of a sure thing. The UGA product will enjoy a Jay Haas - or David Toms-like career – consistent and productive.

4. Lydia Ko: Two days after watching her win a third LPGA title, it’s tough to rate her this low, but there have been plenty of cautionary tales from teenagers seemingly just as talented.

3. Jordan Spieth: What else can we say about him? He nearly won the Masters not only before the legal drinking age, but while still living in the same bedroom of his parents’ house in which he grew up.

2. Lexi Thompson: Even though they’re only separated by two years, Lexi seems a bit more mature than Lydia. I feel like what we’re seeing right now is more of the finished product than what we’ll eventually see from Ko.

1. Rory McIlroy: Oh, I love a good technicality. The two-time major champion won’t turn 25 until Sunday, so I’ll take him here while he’s eligible. Ask me this question again next week, though, and he’ll have to settle for the biggest upside of any player 25-and-over.


By REX HOGGARD

On the cosmic leaderboard, the intersection of life and competition is not always an easily foreseen outcome. Marriage, children, injury, interest all dictate how far one will take natural talent and dedication, but given current track records here are the top 5 players under 25:

5. Michelle Wie: Given the hype that surrounded her career, perhaps Wie has underachieved, but as her victory earlier this month demonstrated, the 24-year-old still has plenty of potential. 

4. Jordan Spieth: Although he came up just short at the Masters, Spieth, 20, has continued to crush the learning curve since he earned his way onto the Tour last year.

3. Lexi Thompson: At 19, Thompson already has four LPGA victories including her first major earlier this month. We are no longer talking about how good she could be.

2. Lydia Ko: It’s not that Ko won her third LPGA event on Sunday so much as it is who she beat. Ko went toe-to-toe with Stacy Lewis, a former world No. 1, on Sunday in California. It was an impressive win for anyone, particularly a 17-year-old.

1. Rory McIlroy: At 24, McIlroy must top the list based on his current résumé alone. Two major championships by a combined 16 strokes is an indication of what the Ulsterman is capable of and despite his current winless streak on the PGA Tour - the 2012 BMW Championship was his last PGA Tour victory - his potential is undeniable.


By RANDALL MELL

5. Ariya Jutanugarn: If not for the shoulder injury last year, the big-hitting 18-year-old might already be ranked among the top five in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

4. Jordan Spieth: All-around game sets the 20-year-old Spieth apart. So do internal dynamics. There’s manageable fury driving him to the top.

3. Lexi Thompson: When she’s firing on all cylinders, nobody in the women’s game will touch her, but the 19-year-old might not be as consistently excellent as Ko.

2. Rory McIlroy: His two runaway routs in majors never stray far from the memory. The 24-year-old will dominate big stages again.

1. Lydia Ko: While Lexi Thompson may be more explosive, capable of more spectacular performances, the 17-year-old Ko has the game to consistently give herself chances in the biggest events.