Beyond big names, Europe’s talent runs deep

Robert Karlsson after winning the Dubai World Championship.

There were so many storylines from this year’s European Tour that some important ones got lost in the ether. Yet they are nearly every bit as important as the stories that made headlines.

Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, the Molinari brothers, Matteo Manassero, Rory McIlroy and a Ryder Cup victory are just some of the banner headlines from the best European season ever. Look deeper into this season, though, and Europe has much more to celebrate.

A bunch of young Europeans made their marks this year to prove that the European Tour has enormous depth.

Rhys Davies displayed his magic putting touch to win the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco. The Welshman also made a respectable run at a Ryder Cup spot. In the end, the former East Tennessee State player had to settle for action as Colin Montgomerie’s buggy driver at Celtic Manor. That experience will have him busting a gut to make the 2012 team.

England has an embarrassment of riches in world golf right now. Westwood leads the way, with the likes of Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter in hot pursuit. Further down the ranks are a host of good young English players yearning to follow in their footsteps.

You couldn’t walk 10 yards on the practice ground at the Dubai World Championship without bumping into a rising English star. David Horsey and John Parry played on the same 2007 Walker Cup team. Not many earmarked them as future European tour winners then, yet Horsey won the BMW International Open, while Parry captured the Vivendi Cup.

Meanwhile, fellow English players Danny Willett, also a member of the same 2007 Walker Cup team, Gary Boyd and Chris Wood also made it to Dubai for being among the top 60 on the money list. All three look favorable to win soon.

It isn’t only English golf that’s healthy. Gareth Maybin, a former player at University of South Alabama, finished 40th on the European Tour money list this year. Two runner-up finishes indicate that it shouldn’t be long before he follows Northern Ireland compatriots McIlroy and McDowell into the winner’s circle.

Richie Ramsay, who captured the South African Open Championship, was the only Scottish winner on this year’s tour, and one of two along with Stephen Gallacher to finish in the top 60. 

Former Arizona State player Alejandro Canizares came back from a few dismal seasons to finish 38th on the money list with two seconds and a third. Meanwhile, Dutchman Joost Luiten posted six top-10 finishes, including second in the Portugal Masters, to finish 28th on the money list with just under €1 million in earnings.

It’s not too long ago that I thought Europe’s second-tier players were no match for the PGA Tour’s supporting cast. That’s no longer the case.

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