Top 10 Golfers With The Best Chance To Become The Next Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has won 14 major championships and was the dominant player in world golf from turning professional in 1996 to winning his latest major which was the US Open in 2008. Woods stated aim is to win more major’s than Jack Nicklaus whose final tally was 18.
The former world number one played his way into contention in each of this year’s four Grand Slam championships, only to play moderately over the weekend and ultimately fail to contend. Woods has won three regular tournaments on the US Tour this season but failure to win a major will be cause for disappointment.
Some judges, including Sir Nick Faldo, have suggested Woods will not win another major unless he can be more accurate and effective when driving from the tee. However, Nicklaus won his last Grand Slam title aged 46 so in theory Woods has another ten years and forty chances to add to his tally.
Another factor suggested for Woods overall average performance in recent major championships is the fallout from the lurid details about his private life. His personal reputation has taken something of a hammering with stories of matters away from the course.
The Woods era may not be over just yet but there are plenty of young players aspiring to be the next Tiger. We are presenting a Slideshow which identifies 10 players who have the potential to be the next multiple major champion. Our list consists of five Americans, two Europeans and three players from the rest of the world.
Jason Dufner has reached his potential relatively late in his career but he has shown enough ability over the last year to suggest he can win at least one major title. He lost in a play-off to Keegan Bradley in the 2011 PGA Championship but that effort gave him the confidence to finally win a tournament this year. In fact for several weeks during the spring he was the best player on Tour. He won two tournaments in that spell and was second in another, a run of success that has taken him to a career high of number 10 in the world rankings. Dufner made the cut in all four majors this season with his best performance coming at the US open in which he finished tied fourth.
Ryo Ishikawa is the 21 year old Japanese player who has already established himself on the PGA Tour. He has played 18 times this season on the regular Tour. Eight missed cuts have been offset by four top 20 finishes, including a second place at the Puerto Rica Open in March. In 2007 Ishikawa became the youngest winner of a regular event on the Japan Golf Tour. In September 2009 he also became the youngest golfer to reach the top 50 of the world rankings. As a teenager in the same year he was the top money earner in Japan and graduated to the PGA Tour soon after.
Webb Simpson is older than most of our other players with the potential to win majors. However, he has emerged over the last two seasons as a genuine contender in major championships. Some commentators have suggested that this year’s US Open was lost by Jim Furyk. However, Simpson played the back nine in one under par and got up and down from a difficult lie on the final hole to clinch the championship. Only Luke Donald won more money on Tour last season so Simpson is proven at the highest level and has the game and temperament to win more majors.
Several experienced and knowledgeable commentators have suggested that Dustin Johnson is a potential world number one and multiple winner of major championships. He is one of the most naturally gifted players in the world who has consistently moved up the rankings in the last few years. At aged 28 Johnson has already won six PGA Tour titles and is currently at a career high of 15 in the world rankings. He missed three months of this season through injury but showed his class and ability with top 10 finishes in each of the FedEx Cup play-off events. Johnson has played in 16 majors and finished inside the top 10 on six occasions.
Matteo Manassero became the youngest player to win a European Tour event when he took the Castello Masters in October 2010. He has since also won the Malaysian Open to take his tally to two regular Tour wins before leaving his teens. He is also the youngest player to make the cut at the US Masters, achieving that before reaching the age of 17. Over the last twelve months Manassero's’ career has taken something of a dip but there is no denying he has the potential to be a leading contender in majors for the next twenty years. In seven major championship appearances he has only missed the cut twice.
Jason Day finished second in two major championships in 2011. He looked the most likely winner of the US Masters before Charl Scwhartzel birdied the last four holes to clinch his first major. Day was runner up to Rory McIlroy in the US Open of that year. He also had a top 10 in the Player’s Championship against the strongest field of the year. Day has not been able to maintain such a high standard this year but injury and events away from the course have halted his development. However, the Australian is a definite future major champion and destined to be a top 10 player for many years.
Rickie Fowler is seen by many as a future world number one and multiple major champion. In December 2009 Fowler earned his playing privileges for the following year's schedule aged just 20. He proved himself to have substance and style when he won his first PGA event at the Wells Fargo Championship this June. He made the cut in three of the four major championships he has contested this season. He looked a potential future British Open winner when finishing fifth to Darren Clarke last year. He handled the difficult conditions better than most and showed a great aptitude for links golf.
Branden Grace has won more regular tournaments than any other player this year. He has won four times in Europe during 2012 and that run of success has taken him to a career high of 38 in the world rankings. He has seen by many good judges as the next winner of majors from South Africa and at aged just 25 he will be a leading contender in Grand Slam tournaments for the next 15 years at least. Before joining the European Tour Grace was a proven winner on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, the environment in which Retief Goosen, Ernie Els and Charl Schwartzel thrived before winning their majors.
Bud Cauley is one of a handful of players to retain his card after only playing on sponsor’s invites and not embarking on a full schedule. Woods and Phil Mickelson are amongst several others to match this achievement. Cauley was exempt for 2012 after earning enough money to avoid qualifying school from a limited schedule. He can build on a return of 23 cuts made from 30 appearances during the current season. In his rookie year Cauley finished inside the top 10 on five occasions and his first win is expected over the next twelve months. He is a former world number one in junior golf and a similar achievement in the men’s game is within his capabilities.
Rory McIlroy is the youngest player to earn 10 million dollars on both the PGA and European Tours. He has already won two major championships and at aged 23 is the youngest player since Seve Ballesteros in 1980 to be a multiple major champion and the 6th youngest of all time. McIlroy had a great chance to win the US Masters in 2011 but a four shot advantage was lost as his game fell apart. It showed great character and ability to then win the US Open by eight shots two months later. McIlroy won the 2012 PGA Championship by the same margin and is the current world number one. He won three regular tournaments on the PGA Tour during 2012, including two FedEx Cup play-off events. McIlroy is rightly the player we feel has the most potential to be the next Tiger Woods.
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