Everyone knows about the stars of today on the PGA Tour: Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson among them.
But what about the stars of tomorrow?
Golfweek‘s Brentley Romine lists 10 of the most promising golfers who are 21 years old or younger – and they aren’t necessarily the current top 10 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
• • •
10. Eugene Hong
Hong, who is fittingly nicknamed “Eugene The Machine,” is verbally committed to the University of Florida for 2018 and is the fifth-ranked junior golfer in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. He’s already won an AJGA invitational (2016 Haas Family Invitational) and competed on a Junior Ryder Cup team (2016). Hong, 16, is ranked 37th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
• • •
9. Collin Morikawa
The Cal sophomore nearly won the Web.com Tour’s Air Capital Classic this summer, losing in a playoff. Morikawa, 19, has a nice golf swing and tremendous short game, and he’s ranked in the top 20 in both the World Amateur Golf Ranking and Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
• • •
8. Dylan Meyer
What the 21-year-old Meyer lacks in length, he makes up with accuracy and short game. Meyer has also shown the ability to perform in clutch situations, at the NCAA Championship and U.S. Amateur. He won the Western Amateur this year and when he gains length with age, his short game and long irons will already be elite. He is ranked ninth in the WAGR.
• • •
7. Viktor Hovland
Out of all the players on this list, Hovland, 19, might be the one that the least amount of people have heard of. That’s because until this fall he’s lived in Norway. Now, he’s a freshman at Oklahoma State and finished the fall ranked 46th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. He is also 13th in the WAGR.
• • •
6. Will Zalatoris
Zalatoris, 20, is a junior at Wake Forest and is from Plano, Texas. He also works on his short game with instructor Cameron McCormick, who also coaches Jordan Spieth. Coincidentally, Zalatoris reminds people a lot of Spieth. He won the 2014 U.S. Junior, a tournament Spieth won twice, and he’s also very well-spoken, just like the two-time major winner. Zalatoris is a great scorer on the course and his mental game has grown a lot under the tutelage of Scott Fawcett, a former pro golfer who has caddied for Zalatoris in several amateur and pro events. Zalatoris is ranked 18th and 10th in the WAGR and Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, respectively.
• • •
5. Sam Burns
Burns wasn’t invited to the Walker Cup practice session this month, but there’s a good argument as to why he should have. He is a former top-ranked junior who is coming into his own as a sophomore at LSU. He’s ranked fourth in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and 49th in the WAGR. Burns looks like he could play linebacker for the Tigers’ football team, so his frame is pro-ready. He’s a confident player and former LSU golfer John Peterson has said in the past that Burns could play on the PGA Tour right now.
• • •
4. Noah Goodwin
Goodwin, 16, is another Texan who is coached by Cameron McCormick. Born with a growth-hormone deficiency, Goodwin has caught up to his peers in size and length, and is now Golfweek‘s top-ranked junior and the world’s 10th-ranked amateur. He’s good in all aspects of his game, especially his short game, though Goodwin admitted his putting held him back slightly in 2016. Still, Goodwin didn’t finish outside the top 5 in any junior tournament he played (and finished) this year. He also made match play at the U.S. Amateur (Round of 64) and U.S. Junior (runner-up), and competed on the victorious U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team while also earning AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year honors. Goodwin is committed to join SMU in the fall of 2018.
• • •
3. Maverick McNealy
Whether McNealy, 21, decides to pursue pro golf or not (our money is on that he does after playing the Walker Cup this fall) remains to be seen, there’s no doubt that McNealy is good enough at this point to play professionally. He’s made cuts on the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour already, and he’s qualified for a U.S. Open, too. McNealy’s mental game stands out, which is no surprise considering he goes to Stanford, and he knows how to manage golf courses. Physically, he’s gotten better year after year since deciding to quit hockey and solely focus on golf. He’s the top-ranked amateur and college golfer in the world, according to the WAGR and Golfweek.
• • •
2. Sam Horsfield
Horsfield, 20, is an English native who has spent most of his life in Davenport, Fla., near Orlando. Horsfield is now a sophomore at Florida and won the Phil Mickelson Award last season as the nation’s top freshman. Horsfield has qualified for the last two U.S. Opens and has the power to compete at the pro level right now. Once he gets more consistent with his driver and mental game, he’ll be able to make the jump to the PGA Tour (or European Tour). Horsfield is close with Ian Poulter and used Poulter’s caddie Terry Mundy at the U.S. Amateur.
• • •
1. Curtis Luck
The 20-year-old Aussie just had his best year as an amateur golfer. Not only did he win a pro event, the Western Australian Open, but he also notched big victories at the U.S. Amateur and Asia-Pacific Amateur, two events that award a Masters berth to the winner. Luck, the world’s second-ranked amateur, only gets one invitation to Augusta, for 2017, but it’s hard to complain; he’ll also be eligible to play in the U.S. Open and British Open next year should he choose to remain amateur. It’s unlikely he’ll play three majors in 2017, though, as his game is ready for him to take the next step. Luck’s short game is incredible (think a young Jason Day) and he has the charisma of Adam Scott, too.
(Think we missed someone? Let us know about it on Twitter or Facebook!)