The Most Underrated Players in Golf Today
When we think of golf’s greatest moments or the finest players to grace the men's game these days, a selection of names spring to mind.
Undoubtedly Tiger Woods is the first, before the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and Patrick Cantlay would follow.
After all, a large proportion of the names above have won major championships and therefore, carved their name into golfing folklore for eternity.
However, you don’t need to exclusively win major championships to be a good golfer, the pressure is raised exponentially and some players can’t perform under such scrutiny.
Despite their lack of major success, there are plenty of professionals who clearly exhibit the talent to win one of golf’s grandest prizes.
With this in mind, we have compiled a list of five players that we feel are not only underrated but who also have bright futures ahead.
Pro Wins: 8
Yes, Harris English was finally given the recognition that he deserved with selection for the most recent Ryder Cup, but he continues to be overlooked by tipsters for the more significant tournaments. While English’s game has signs of simplicity, that’s the very reason he should be applauded: he refuses to make the game of golf complicated.
English has won four PGA Tour tournaments and in every single one he shot four rounds in the sixties, demonstrating he knows the secret to scoring well. While he may not have a standout strength like Bryson DeChambeau’s driving or Collin Morikawa’s iron play, he’s a reliant and consistent performer who, at the age of 32, is continuing to improve. A major championship could be closer than the consensus would suggest.
Pro Wins: 7
Billy Horschel is an incredible golfer who may have stirred one or two people up the wrong way. He featured in the same Walker Cup as Rory McIlroy and the two had words after their match, which provides support to the previous sentence. Horschel is seriously talented and for some, his name on this list might be a surprise, but generally, he’s seldom considered as one of the better players in the world, and while I believe he’s lacking that X factor to rival the likes of Johnson or Koepka, his resume is notable.
After securing his maiden PGA Tour title in 2013 (Zurich Classic of New Orleans), he has since won the BMW Championship, the Tour Championship and the WGC Match Play - his most recent victory in America, before he headed overseas and won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Similarly to everyone who will feature on this list, that elusive major title is what prevents pundits from placing a higher importance on the American. Of the 32 majors that he has participated in, he has finished in the top ten on one occasion - 2013 U.S. Open (T4) - and that clearly needs to be addressed if he wants to be remembered for the long haul.
Pro Wins: 1
While Corey Conners may only be 29 years of age, it’s still surprising to find out he has only secured one professional victory throughout his career. He turned professional in 2015 and took the traditional route of battling for a PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour. Similarly to English, while Conners may not demonstrate superiority in one discipline, his all round game is exceptional and what often keeps him in contention.
He may not have seven victories like Horschel, who is five years older, but his performances in major championships and even The Players Championship highlights that he may be better equipped for more pressurised situations. Triumphing at the 2019 Valero Texas Open looked certain to kickstart his career and it seemed inevitable that more victories would follow. While that hasn’t quite happened yet, there’s plenty of time for Conners to establish himself and to expose his talent to the global golfing audience.
Erik van Rooyen
Pro Wins: 4
Despite being 31 years old, Erik van Rooyen has only been a professional since 2013 and of the four tours that he has featured on - PGA, European, Sunshine, Challenge - he has won on each one. It feels like the South African has been around for a long time but the truth is, he hasn’t. If we consider the progress he has made in a relatively short space of time, the future does look bright for van Rooyen - who secured his maiden PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship in August 2021.
Perhaps the finest victory of his career was the 2019 Scandinavian Invitation, where he kept his composure to beat Englishman and Ryder Cup player Matthew Fitzpatrick. His best finish at a major was in 2019 where he finished T8 at the PGA Championship but his performances across the four this season were largely disappointing, missing the cut in three and failing to qualify for the Masters. However, now the duck has been broken on American soil, van Rooyen will certainly be looking for more titles at the highest level of professional golf.
Pro Wins: 11
It’s difficult to argue that a man with 11 professional wins can be regarded as underrated, but Alex Noren does not necessarily receive the recognition and praise that he deserves. Arguably no-one possesses a greater ability to shape the ball left-to-right and his fade alone is something to be in awe of. Golfers are remembered - and compared - by major championships, it’s been the common comparison tool for many years. Noren’s lack of major titles is problematic but at the age of 39, there is still time.
His best finish was T6 at the 2017 Open Championship but what is alarming is the fact he’s only recorded two top 10 finishes – both at The Open – in 31 appearances. There seems to be a theme for this list and those who have been included lack the firepower to perform when the pressure is at its highest. Still, victories at the BMW PGA Championship, British Masters and the Scottish Open are beyond impressive - although his absence of victory on American soil is something that needs to change.
There you have five golfers who we think don’t receive the recognition that they truly deserve - have we left any out?
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