A new year and a new batch of golfers are upon us. From all around the world young talent is popping up and making a splash on the professional stage. Here are our top 15 pros to know for 2017:
: London, England
The 27-year-old, happy-go-lucky Englishman with the infectious smile and bovine nickname earned his card through his finish in the Web.com Tour Finals. He's already chalked up a win on the European Tour and a top-10 finish in The Open, and he's hungry for more success. Literally.
She's No. 10 on the Rolex Rankings and the only member in the top 10 who didn't play primarily on the LPGA Tour in 2016. Through only seven events on the 2016 LPGA, the 23-year-old earned almost $700,000, enough to gain her entry into most 2017 events.
Modesto, California, U.S.A.
One of only five players to win the NCAA Div. 1 individual championship and U.S. Amateur in the same year, the 23-year-old former SMU star isn't afraid to be different. With his all-the-same-length irons and “Matt Kuchar-meets-Sam Snead” sidesaddle putting stroke, make no mistake - he IS different.
Still only 20, this Englishwoman is entering her fifth year as a pro. She was rookie of the year on the Ladies European Tour in 2013, the same year she became the youngest player in the history of the Solheim Cup. More recently, she won the 2016’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
The latest in the line of outstanding players from Spain, Rahm 22, played collegiately at Arizona State where he won 11 tournaments. He turned pro after the 2016 U.S. Open, and in his first event as a pro, the Quicken Loans National, he held or shared the lead for the first two rounds and wound up finishing third. With his 2017 card secured, look for Rahm to turn his attention to notching his first pro win.
Ciganda, 26, hails from Pamplona, the town famous for the running of the bulls. Ciganda's game has been bullish since 2012, when she led the money list, was named rookie of the year, player of the year on the Ladies European Tour. In 2016 she won two LPGA events - the KEB Hana Bank Championship and the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
High Wycombe, U.K.
Can't quite place Hatton? He's the guy who tied the St. Andrews Old Course record of 62 in October. He did it in the third round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on his way to his first win in the big leagues. The 25-year-old Englishman also had two top-10 finishes in 2016 majors, a T-5 in The Open and a T-10 in the PGA.
Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
The daughter of a Korean mother and a Japanese father, Nomura grew up in Seoul until she graduated from high school. In 2011 she chose to take Japanese nationality. Nomura earned her first two LPGA victories in 2016, holding off Lydia Ko to win the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open by three shots, then cruising to a four-shot win in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
Rustenburg, South Africa
South African Stone, 23, has been quick to make an impression with three wins in his freshman year at the University of Texas. In Stone’s second start as pro he collected his first win (on home turf) at the South African Open. Stone bookended 2016 with a 6-stroke win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
One of the latest teen phenoms to play her way onto the LPGA tour is Nasa Hataoka, who just turned 18 this January. A T14 finish at the LPGA's final qualifying in Daytona Beach was good enough for a 2017 card. Hataoka, won the Japan Women’s Open in October at age 17, becoming the youngest winner in the championship’s history. Look for her to round out her game in 2017.
With three European Tour wins, a fourth-place finish in the Olympics, and a 4-1-0 Ryder Cup record, the 24-year-old Belgian is one of the brightest stars on the golf horizon. At 6-foot-5, 187 pounds, he could be the Dustin Johnson of the European Tour.
Ewart Shadoff's 2016 season could be regarded as a breakthrough in every category but one: The 28-year-old Englishwoman is still looking for her first win as a pro. She had LPGA career bests in scoring average (70.86), earnings ($593,296) and cuts made (25 of 26). Look for Shadoff to get the “monkey” off her back in 2017.
Rancho, Santa Fe, California, U.S.A.
At 28, Lovemark is borderline for being "up-and-coming young talent." With two wins on the Web.com Tour (’10, ’13), he has talent. 2017 offers one more chance for Lovemark to make it big.
L.A., California, U.S.A.
Alison Lee's most memorable moment in the LPGA has been, unfortunately, her involvement in "Gimmee-gate" in the 2015 Solheim Cup. Lee is still looking for her first LPGA win, but she is only 21. 2017 offers redemption and a chance to change the headlines.
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A.
Along with his brother George (26), Wesley Bryan (26) makes trick-shot videos. That's all well and good, but Bryan can play with the big kids too. In 2016 he won three times on the Web.com Tour, earning an immediate promotion to the PGA Tour. With the web.com 2016 player of the year award already on the mantel, look for Bryan to add another piece of hardware to the collection, the PGA tour rookie of the year award.
For more information on these up and comers click their names to be redirected to their PGA/LPGA bio.
Source: Golf Channel - Players to Watch 2017 ( http://www.golfchannel.com/media/players-watch-2017/)