Europe's young guns poised for Major success?
Post by Sports Writer, Derek Clements
SO WHAT about Europe's young guns? Where and who are the guys who are going to replace Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Luke Donald?
It goes without saying that Rory McIlroy, still only 26 and already the winner of four majors, tops the list. But do we have any great strength in depth, especially when compared with the United States?
We would all like to think that the answer was yes, but things could be better.
When you think about Europe's best golfers, names such as Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia come to mind. They are all in their thirties and, in a couple of cases, are fast closing in on 40.
David Lingmerth won the Memorial Tournament. He is 27 years old and he is Swedish, but he speaks with an American accent and is not a member of the European Tour - and that is something that needs to change, and quickly.
Tommy Fleetwood, 24, is beginning to look like he might be the real deal, but, to date, he has won only once. Chris Wood, 27 won at the weekend and is still making progress despite being blighted by injury.
There are high hopes for 20-year-old Matt Fitzpatrick, the Englishman who won the US Amateur Championship. He comfortably sailed through qualifying school but has struggled on the European Tour this season and is still a long, long way short of securing his card for 2016. There is no reason why he shouldn't make the breakthrough, but there are no guarantees.
Victor Dubuisson will be looking to build on a great start to his career
France has a production line of potentially great players, none better than Romain Wattel, 24, Alexander Levy, also 24, and the incomparable Victor Dubuisson, 25. It was widely expected that Dubuisson would go on to become a serial winner after claiming the Turkish Open and reaching the final of the world matchplay, but there is a sense that Dubuisson tries too hard to be an enigma, when he should instead focus on becoming the great golfer that he should be.
Levy is a proven winner, but can he climb the next step on the ladder and win in America? I am not convinced. In my view, Wattel is far and away the brightest prospect in European golf. He has the lot, but does he have the temperament? Still only 24, he won on the Challenge Tour back in 2010 as an amateur. He has contended this season, but has still to make the breakthrough. And the longer it takes, the harder it becomes.
Matteo Manassero was a boy wonder, winning his first title on Tour when he was just 17, and he went on to land the BMW PGA Championship and climb into the top 35 in the world rankings when he was still only 20. Even now, Manassero is just 22 years old, but already he looks like yesterday's man. There is no reason why he should not rediscover his form, but perhaps we have already witnessed the best he has to offer.
Take a look at this year's winners on the European Tour and, by and large, you see tournaments won by men in their 30s - Alex Noren, Richie Ramsay, Danny Willett, James Morrison. Sure, there have been several young guns claiming victories, but they are not Europeans - George Coetzee (South Africa), Byeong Hun An (South Korea) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand).
Don't think for one minute that the future for European golf is bleak, because nothing could be further from the truth. McIlroy is the best on the planet, Fleetwood and Wood will turn the corner, and then there is Russell Knox, the Scot plying his trade so successfully on the PGA Tour. He is surely a shoo-in for Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup team next year.
There are those of you who may not have heard of Knox. Let me enlighten you. He is 29 years old and was born in Inverness. Knox is 33rd in the FedEx Cup standings and is ranked 77th in the world, but he won't be for much longer. This season he has already finished third on two occasions and won $1.45m in prize money. He hits the ball straight and putts beautifully, and he is definitely a decent dark horse for Chambers Bay.
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Tags: european tour