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Who Will Be Golf's Next First Time Major Winner

By: | Mon 22 Nov 2021 | Comments

PROFESSIONAL golf is in a good place. The sport is awash with both established and up-and-coming young stars. This year we saw Hideki Matsuyama win The Masters, Phil Mickelson claim the PGA Championship, Jon Rahm take his maiden major victory at the US Open and Collin Morikawa become a two-time major champion when he won The Open at Royal St George’s.

America’s Ryder Cup team was packed with twenty somethings who could dominate the game for years to come. Tour pros are judged by what they achieve in the majors, and many of the world’s best players never manage to win one - Colin Montgomerie may be the best example.

Here, we gaze into our crystal ball and pick out some young - and not so young - men who could well join the major club in the not-too-distant future...

Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland

The brightest prospect European golf has had since Jon Rahm burst upon the scene. Plies his trade on the PGA Tour, and does so brilliantly. He has already won three times on the other side of the pond and then came over to Europe and threw in a victory here for good measure. More than held his own when making his Ryder Cup debut. Nothing gets him down. If he makes a mistake he simply shrugs it off and moves on. Many pundits believe his short game needs work. His results would suggest otherwise.

Most likely to win: US Open

Matthew Fitzpatrick

Matt Fitzpatrick

Although he seems to have been around forever, Fitzpatrick is still only 27 years old. His first win on the European Tour came at the British Masters in 2015. He has since gone on to claim seven titles, including two victories at the DP World Tour Championship. Fitzpatrick is a man who proves that you don’t have to hit the ball a mile to compete at the highest level. He has a short game to die for. Spending an increasing amount of time on the PGA Tour, where he is still looking to make the breakthrough. Is sometimes a little too hard on himself.

Most likely to win: The Open

Sam Burns

Burns could be the pick of the latest generation of young Americans - and that is saying something. He won twice in 2021 and lost in a playoff at WGC-FedEx St Jude. Was unlucky to be overlooked by Steve Stricker for the US Ryder Cup team, but the 25-year-old will surely be a fixture in the team for many years to come. Has only played in seven majors to date, with a best finish of tied 29th at the 2019 PGA Championship. But this boy is a quick learner.

Most likely to win: PGA Championship

Tony Finau

Finally won his second PGA Tour title in 2021. Many have questioned his motivation, suggesting that he is happy to simply turn up and collect his cheque. That is, of course, complete nonsense. In the past two seasons Finau has finished in the top 10 on no fewer than 18 occasions, making him one of the most consistent players on the planet. Apart from his victory at the Northern Trust Open, there have also been three runner-up finishes during that time. Hits the ball a long way with a short, economical swing. Has racked up an impressive 10 top-10 finishes in the majors.

Most likely to win: US Open

Xander Schauffele

It is difficult to believe that Schauffele is still searching for his first major. The 28-year-old has won four times on the PGA Tour but his victory at the Olympic Games was his first for almost 18 months. So why do I believe he is a major champion in waiting? He has competed in 19 majors, with nine top-10 finishes, including runner-up finishes at both The Masters and The Open. He has a wonderful temperament.

Most likely to win: The Masters

Sungjae Im

The Korean is a machine. Nobody plays more golf tournaments than he does. His first win came at The Honda Classic in 2020. During the 2020-21 PGA Tour season he took part in 35 events, missing just six cuts and reeling off 16 top-25 finishes. And he already has a victory to his name in the new season. Finished second at The Masters in 2020 on a course that appears to be made for his game.

Most likely to win: The Masters

Will Zalatoris

Joined the PGA Tour as a Special Temporary Member and easily collected enough points to gain full playing rights for 2021-22. The 25-year-old made the cut in 21 of his 25 starts - remember that we are talking here about a rookie. He had eight top-10 finishes and 14 top-25 finishes, which is hugely impressive by anybody’s standards. But the highlight of his year came in April. Playing in his Masters at Augusta, Zalatoris finished second behind Hideki Matsuyama. 

Most likely to win: The Masters

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Christiaan Bez

With three victories on the European Tour and four on the Sunshine Tour, Bezuidenhout knows how to win. Yes, he has a pretty poor record in the majors but his seventh-place finish in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill proves that he knows how to play difficult courses well. A big hitter who is one of the best bunker players on the planet.

Most likely to win: The Open

Garrick Higgo

Garrick Higgo

What a year the young South African left-hander has had. It has been the stuff of dreams. Having picked up his maiden European Tour victory at the Open de Portugal in 2020, he added two more victories in 2021 and then he headed over to the USA and promptly won on the PGA Tour, claiming the Palmetto Championship in only his second start on American soil. Still only 21, his potential is limitless. He may have to wait a year or two but will surely challenge for majors in the years ahead.

Most likely to win: Take your pick

Min Woo Lee

Min Woo Lee

What a year the Australian has had. In 2019 he was in 369th place in the world rankings. It’s a different story now. He is knocking on the door of the top 50, which will guarantee his place in all four majors. He won the ISPS Handa Vic Open in 2020. A string of missed cuts followed before he turned it all around by winning the Scottish Open, finishing second at the Andalucia Masters, eighth at the Portugal Masters and fourth at the Dubai Championship. Brought up in Australia, so knows how to play in the wind.

Most likely to win: The Open

Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography

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Tags: PGA Tour european tour daily picks


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