Golf

5 Golfers You Should Be Paying Attention To

With Tiger Woods’ latest setback and his return looking iffier than ever, it’s looking more and more likely that Tiger will fade off into the sunset without giving us a few vintage performances in the twilight of his career.

Woods is the only favorite golfer I have ever known. His performances in the 1996 U.S. Amateur and 1997 Masters spurred my love for the game of golf. With his future murkier than ever, it’s come time for me to look for potential new players who can fill the Big Cat’s shoes.




While the PGA Tour is filled with plenty of young star power such as Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, I want in early on a player so I can taste the benefits of his mainstream popularity IPO. So, I’ve dug in and thought hard to find five guys that I am going to keep an eye on this season, while hoping that Tiger returns to a shell of his former self.

Thomas Pieters

The world got its first glimpse of Pieters at this year’s Ryder Cup where the young Belgian put on a clinic, regularly launching bombs off the tee and dropping clutch putt after clutch putt on the Americans en route to a 4-1-0 record. Before the Ryder Cup rookie’s breakout performance at Hazeltine, Pieters had a cult following among die hard golf fans who remembered his NCAA individual title win while the young star was at the University of Illinois. Despite his sparkling performance at the Ryder Cup, my lasting memory of Pieters from the season will be his epic club break at the Open Championship…one for the ages.




 

 

Tony Finau

An American bomber that some may recognize from his year on Golf Channel reality show “The Big Break.” Athletics are in Finau’s genes as some of his cousins include NBA small forward Jabari Parker, NFL players Haloti Ngata and Sione Pouha, but very few thought the rangy Finau would find his way into professional athletics through golf.




Unsurprisingly, the 27-year-old Finau’s path to the PGA Tour wasn’t like most players as Finau was the son of an immigrant from Polynesia and one of nine kids growing up in the inner city of Salt Lake City (I didn’t know that existed). Finau’s golf game prospered as a youth despite lacking the financial means to play and practice the traditional way (golf course and driving range), instead learning on a homemade garage practice area. Finau said “f*** it” at the notion of college and turned pro a 17, living the unglamourous mini-tour life for a number of years before breaking through Web.com Tour Q-School in 2013. After a successful season on the Web.com Tour, Finau found himself as a rookie on the PGA Tour in the 2014-2015 season and had a solid showing before breaking out for his first career win in his 2nd year on Tour at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open. Finau’s long drives and athletic make up make him a candidate to move into the upper-echelon of golf.

Jon Rahm

Unlike Finau, Jon Rahm has had star written all over him for sometime. Rahm turned pro last season as the number 1 ranked amateur player in the world and the first ever back-to-back Hogan Award winner (most outstanding college player) at Arizona State.




How good is Rahm? His college coach, Tim Mickelson (yes, Phil’s brother), quit his cushy job as ASU’s golf coach to become his manager. Rahm earned his card by killing it during his sponsor’s exemptions needing only 3 of his allotted 8 starts to earn enough money to get a special membership on Tour. I expect Rahm to win soon, like in the next 10 events. I am just not sure I can get behind a Spaniard as my top guy.

Bubba Watson

Just kidding…

Daniel Berger

The dudes instagram name is @db_straitvibin…enough said. While Berger might be a little too mainstream to be on this list, I just enjoy watching the guy play golf. He has a very unorthodox swing, makes a ton of birdies and was hosed when he was passed over for a Ryder Cup spot in 2016. I expect Berger to move into the top 15 in the world and become a factor on Sundays in majors during the 2017 season.

Harold Varner III

Varner goes by HV3 and hails from Charlotte, NC. Varner made headlines recently by beating his idol, Steph Curry, in a (basketball) shooting contest (he really just made one shot before Steph) at this year’s Safeway Open.




 

On the course, Varner is a bad man. He finished last year’s rookie campaign 75th in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Standings and proved he belonged with 4 top 10 finishes. I am expecting HV3 to break out in the 2016-2017 season and notch his first win on the PGA Tour.

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