Believe it or not, men’s professional golf is potentially riding the wave of one of the biggest booms we’ve seen in decades. Troy Vayanos discusses.
It’s never been a more exciting time to tune in and watch a men’s professional tournament. Golf fans are being treated to a plethora of amazing golf by a new breed of twenty-somethings, led by Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler.
Not since the 80s and 90s when Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesterous and Bernard Langer were fighting out majors have we seen such a bunched group of top players vying for golf’s top spot.
But wait… What about Tiger, Phil, Ernie and Retief? True, these guys were great, but Tiger dominated the game for years and the other three never really, for too long, threatened to knock him off his perch. Most of the time Tiger was a one-man show and his record in majors from 2000-2009 proves that.
In early 2016 we have less than two ranking points separating the three best players in the world. Spieth, McIlroy and Day have all spent time at the number spot over the last six months and Fowler is closing in. There is definitely not much between them.
So what makes 2016’s breed of twenty-somethings so special and why is golf entering some of the most exciting times in years?
Jordan Mania Is Taking Off
The 22-year old Texan has made quite a name for himself since turning professional in 2012 and graduating onto the PGA tour in 2013. Since that time he’s won two major titles in 2015, including the US Masters and the US Open and just missing out on the Open Championship and US PGA.
But it’s not just Jordan’s impressive golf that’s been impressing golf followers. A good upbringing has made Jordan the most likeable player on tour. It’s made him humble, caring and respectful of his fellow competitors and most importantly the fans.
In fact every time he answers a question about his game or performance it is usually answered with the word ‘we’, meaning he never takes sole credit for his great golf and believes it’s a team sport because of the help he gets from his caddie, manager, coach and trainer etc.
But what about his golf game? Well, there’s a lot to like. Jordan plays an attacking style, regularly taking aim at tricky pin positions and usually coming up trumps. His putting is one of the best we’ve seen in years and so much so that many other players are considering the switch to cross handed style; just ask Ernie Els.
With so much to like about Jordan, it’s easy to see why he’s great to watch and brings so much to the current game of golf.
Rory’s Still Got Game
Despite not winning a major in 2015, the Northern Irishmen is still at the forefront of golf’s exciting boom. He won three times in 2015 on both major tours and was competitive in the majors that was partially ruined due to a sprained achilles injury that ruled him out of the Open Championship.
Like Spieth, Rory’s a very likeable person. His Irish accent and ability to take a positive out of a tough situation has made him easy to love. Who could forget what he said after his 2011 US Masters final round 80, that saw him relinquish his chances of victory.
“It will be pretty tough for me for the next few days, but I will get over it – I will be fine,” McIlroy told The Guardian.
“There are a lot worse things that can happen in your life. Shooting a bad score in the last round of a golf tournament is nothing in comparison to what other people go through.”
Rory’s golf game is aggressive, which is what the fans love to watch. With his huge 300+ yard drives he takes on the par fives and leaves nothing in the tank. On occasions it can be his undoing, but for golf lovers it’s a joy to watch. He is just one win away from a career Grand Slam if he can claim the US Masters which is fuelling his desire to playing better and better. If he does this he will surely join the elite golfer’s hall of fame.
His private life in the past has become a distraction, but currently his engagement to former PGA administrator Erica Stoll seems to have him on a nice even balance. He looks happier and content and his golf game is steadily improving week after week.
The four-time major champion has got the whole package and always brings the fans out in their droves to any tournament he’s a part of. Sit back and enjoy watching the Ulstermann for the next 10 years.
Jason Finally Delivering On His Talent
Australia’s Jason Day has always promised the golfing world something special, and in 2015 he finally delivered. He captured his first major, the US PGA and also won four other PGA Tour events. Jason has been criticized for his lack of wins but last year put all that to rest with some scintillating golf.
Day is fun to watch, he hits an enormous golf ball and plays with a controlled aggression that’s pleasing to the fans. He has a fantastic short game and is one of the best putters in world golf at wielding the blade. His attitude to golf and life is amazing and who could forget what he said after he captured the PGA title last year.
“I’ve seen multiple mental coaches,” Day told the BBC.
“But the biggest thing that prepares you for something like this is the sheer experience of failure.
“Looking at it as a positive and knowing you can learn from anything – that really gets you mentally tough.”
This made me want to pick up a club and play a round of golf that very second I heard it.
He gives back to the community through his charity called the Brighter Days Foundation, which helps families effected by Typhoon Haiyan that killed eight of his family members in the Philippines in 2013.
Jason has the complete game together with his down to earth nature and incredible talent with the golf sticks. He’s always a fan-favourite at tournaments he competes in.
Rickie’s Orange Is Rising Fast
Rickie Fowler is the final player of the top four, and despite not winning a major, he deserves his place as part of golf’s exciting new breed. Rickie’s performances in the big tournaments are starting to get recognition. In the last twelve months he has captured both the Players Championship and the HSBC Golf Championship against major strength fields underlining his ability.
Decked out in his Sunday orange, Rickie’s always great to watch. Like the other players mentioned, Rickie plays an aggressive style that the fans love and keep turning out to see. He has a great short game as well and sits regularly in the top statistical measures on tour in this area. His game continues to improve with the coaching of master instructor Butch Harmon and he’s risen to the number four world ranking and is closing fast on the top three.
There’s no doubt about Rickie’s popularity at each and every golf tournament he enters. He’s mobbed by the fans and duly gives back by signing thousands of autographs and getting photos taken. Rickie’s trendy and sometimes colourful attire is a big reason the young fans are turning out to golf tournaments. The young fans relate to him better than most after seeing him wear skateboard style hats and big buckled belts.
Rickie makes no secret of his desire to achieve golfing greatness on the course. However, off the course he is someone that gives a lot back, especially through his charity, the Rickie Fowler Foundation.
“I’d love to have a lasting impact as far as growing the game,” he told CBSSports.
“It would be cool to be remembered as a major champion. I’d like to be remembered as a great golfer but also a great person, as far as growing the game and charity work. The whole well-rounded athlete.”
Rickie has started 2016 off strong with one win and three top fives already this season. He is just a major win away from joining golfing folklore.
A Decade Of Greatness Is Here
With these four golfers, plus a multitude of emerging talent pecking at their heels, men’s professional golf is as strong as ever. The next ten years is starting to look like one of the most memorable in the history of the game.
All four players are leading a generation of some of the most talented golfers in years and it’s never been a better time to tune in and watch them play. Sit back and enjoy because there’s never been a better time to do it.
Troy Vayanos, Pundit Arena