This was the question I would get on a regular basis on The Back Nine Radio Show on 101.1 ESPN. Just where are the great young American players?
During a time when players like Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Louis O, Charl Schwartzel were making headlines and for some even capturing major championships, American golf fans were getting worried. The Europeans were dominating the Ryder Cup and American golf fans didn’t see a promising future on the horizon.
Sure, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were flying the flag nicely for Team USA, but who was in line to support Woods and Lefty as they started to mature in their golf career?
Enter Rickie Fowler at the Ryder Cup at Glen Eagles. As a rookie on the PGA Tour, Fowler made his mark by regularly being in the mix. While he didn’t win until his 2012 season, Fowler demonstrated an ability to compete with the world’s best with a dramatic halve of his singles match at Sunday under the most extreme pressure. But even then, who would be there to join the flamboyant Cowboy from Oklahoma State?
And then came Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson and they didn’t come quietly. Bradley won at the Byron Nelson earlier in the 2011 season and then again at the PGA Championship. Simpson would break through with a U.S. Open Championship to join Bradley as arguably the top young American players.
A few years ago I remember talking with someone about why American golf didn’t seem to be producing the same caliber of player the European system was delivering. Their response – just wait as there is a crop of college players that will soon be winning and winning regularly on the PGA Tour.
Today in Silvis, IL, Jordan Spieth joined what is now a very impressive group of young American players poised to make their mark in professional golf. Just take a look at this list of players who have come on the scene in just the past year or so –
Rickie Fowler – Age 25
Keegan Bradley – Age 27
Webb Simpson – Age 27
Harris English – Age 24
Russell Henley – Age 24
Scott Langley – Age 24
Jordan Spieth – Age 19
Scott Stallings – Age 28
Billy Horschel – Age 26
Derek Ernst – Age 23
American golf is officially in good hands as they youngsters are finding their way consistently into the mix on the PGA Tour and in major championships.