It seems that golf champions are getting younger every year and 2019 looks like being no exception. 2018 was a stellar year for the latest emerging crop of young guns, following hot on the heels of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlory and Tiger Woods.
Having made their breakthrough last year, now they will be looking to go one better and win a Major in 2019. Leading the pack of young challengers is 23-year-old Cameron Champ who recorded his first PGA Tour victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Missouri in October. Averaging 343 yards off the tee last year, the big-hitting Californian also won on the Web.com Tour in July.
Fellow American Sam Burns is another fast making a name for himself. Having made No.1 in both the junior and college rankings, the 22-year-old announced his arrival on the professional stage by beating his playing partner Woods at the Honda Classic at Florida’s PGA National Resort & Spa in February last year, where he finished tied for eighth place. He was also tied for third behind Champ in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Perhaps the most underrated youngster on the circuit, however, is South Korea’s 20-year-old Sungjae Im, who finished top of the prize money list on the Web.com Tour with two wins and three runners-up spots.
Another exciting new talent is Beau Hossler. The precocious American, who turns 24 this month, shot to fame when, aged just 17, he led during the second round US Open in 2012. Since then, he has won the prestigious 2016 Haskins Award and made 24 of 28 cuts in his rookie 2017/18 PGA Tour season, including five top 10 finishes. Hossler finished runner-up in two of the events, losing last April’s Houston Open to Ian Poulter in a playoff.
Completing the list of American contenders are Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau. Schauffele, 25, scooped the 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and won three PGA Tour titles in his first two seasons as a pro, including last year’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in October, putting him in the early running for a 2020 Ryder Cup place. DeChambeau was even better, winning four times on the PGA Tour in 2018, including two FedEx Cup Playoff events in a row. The 2015 US Amateur champion will be looking to continue his fine run after racking up an impressive six victories since joining the professional game in 2016.
Flying the flag for England are Matt Wallace and Matthew Fitzpatrick. Twenty eight-year-old Wallace was unlucky not to make the Ryder Cup captain’s pick after winning three times on the European Tour in 2018. But if he can follow up on his six wins on the Alps Tour in 2016 and his maiden European Tour triumph in 2017 then the sky is the limit. Fitzpatrick’s star has been rising since he burst onto the scene in 2014. The 24-year-old Yorkshireman has four European Tour victories under his belt, as well as representing Europe in the Walker and Ryder Cups.
Another future Major contender is 20-year-old Chilean Joaquin Niemann. After an incredible amateur career in which he won the Latin America Amateur Championship as well as six professional tournaments, culminating in him reaching No.1, Niemann turned pro last April, going on to secure five top 10s on the PGA Tour in 2018.
Women to watch
In the women’s game, England’s Georgia Hall has continued to go from strength to strength, winning her first Major at the Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in August. Becoming the first British Major winner since Karen Stupples in 2004, the mercurial 22-year-old from Bournemouth has No.1 spot in her sights after winning the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit for the second year running.
Joining her in the race for top dog is 20-year-old American Nelly Korda. The latest in a long line of a sporting family, which includes her father, Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda, and older sister Jessica, a five-time victor on the LPGA Tour, Nelly broke into the top 25 in her rookie season with her first LPGA Tour win in October and seven top 10 finishes.
China’s Ruixin Liu is another to watch out for. Topping the Symetra Tour money list with two victories and a runner-up and third place, big things are expected of this 20-year-old having been promoted to the LPGA Tour last year.
With so much new talent on show, the odds on there being a new name on one of the 2019 Majors trophies are greater than ever.