The youth movement has officially arrived and apparently has no intentions of going back into hiding. There have already been 3 first time winners in the 2011 PGA Tour season and from week to week the leaderboard is littered with young talent seeking their 1st victory. So will the youth movement continue at the 2011 Masters and who are some of the golfers flying below the radar that would make for an amazing storyline this week? There is more than enough to choose from, anything from The Young Guns, to The New Breed, to The Aussie, to The Euro Tourian, to The Redeemer…so let’s jump right in there and take a closer look.
The Young Guns: 2011 is showing just how quickly the young talent has emerged with the “win now attitude”. With that said, the two Young Guns that stand out this year are Jhonattan Vegas & Gary Woodland. Ironically, Vegas beat Woodland in a playoff early in the season at the 2011 Bob Hope Classic. Since then, Woodland strung together two top 10 finishes in four tournament starts before capturing his 1st victory at the 2011 Transitions Championship. Both come to the Masters playing the tournament for the first time and history be told, Fuzzy Zoeller is the last player in the past 75 years to have won the Masters on their first try. So, will history repeat itself again this year?
The New Breed: Ricky Fowler and Ryo Ishikawa represent the future of golf. Young, aggressive, confident and need I say fashion conscious. Both have immense talent and will win their fair share of majors throughout their career. What would make for a special story would be to see either one capture their 1st PGA victory at the Masters.
Fowler has been banging on the door for his 1st win ever since he turned professional, finishing 2nd at the 2009 Frys.com Open in only his 6th career start. Fowler then had a stellar 2010, capturing the Rookie of the Year Award with eight top 10’s, including two 2nd place finishes. Other than his colorful display of clothing and oversized caps, Fowler is best known for his impressive Ryder Cup display against Eduardo Molinari, birdying the last 4 holes of his singles match to keep the USA in the hunt for the Cup. Now that’s the mental fortitude of a major champion!
Ishikawa has been a little quieter, considering that he doesn’t play regularly on the PGA Tour. Nonetheless, at the age of 19, he already has 9 professional victories from the Japan Tour and valuable Masters experience, having played the event in 2009 & 2010. Considering the tragic events that have transpired from the tsunami in Japan, Ishikawa is donating all of his 2011 prize money to the relief efforts. Ishikawa is also eager to bring home some inspiring news to Japan and there is no better way of doing that but to win the Masters!
The Aussie: Very few are aware that an Australian player has never won the Masters. Hard to believe when you look at the great Aussies like Peter Thomson, Greg Norman, Steve Elkington, Ian Baker-Finch, Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott. For this very reason, who will become the first? My guess would be to look forward to a young Aussie that is remerging into golfing consciousness Aaron Baddeley A.K.A “Badds”. Great things were expected out of Badds when he turned professional in 2000, however Badds struggled to create a name for himself on the PGA Tour. Following a successful 2007 PGA Tour season with one win and six top 10 finishes, Badds golf game derailed for several years, as he experimented with the Stack & Tilt golf swing. Bad idea Badds…but thankfully, in 2009 he reunited with his original golf coach Dale Lynch and returned to the swing mechanics that brought him early career success. Badds then captured his first tournament victory in 4 years at the 2011 Northern Trust Open and is coming off a solid T4 finish at last week’s pre Masters tournament, the 2011 Shell Houston Open. Therefore look for Badds down the stretch at the Masters.
The Euro Tourian: Charl Schwartzel who???…that is usually what happens before someone emerges as a major champion. Take for instance his fellow countryman from South Africa, Louis Oosthuizen. Oosthuizen also went unnoticed before he won the 2010 Open Championship with only one previous European Tour victory to his credit. Schwartzel actually has 6 European Tour victories under his belt and is one of a few players that not only made the cut at all four majors in 2010 but also finished inside the top 30. Following a successful 2010 season as a nonmember, Schwartzel wisely took up membership on the PGA Tour in 2011, thereby giving him access to the FedEx Cup. Therefore, do not overlook the young South African this week. After all, Ernie Els is his mentor and Els has already endorsed good ole Charl as the future #1 player in the world.
The Redeemer: I beg to ask, how many more times can Steve Marino come close to winning his 1st PGA tournament before it starts to take a psychological toll on his ability to ever win on tour? If you have not done so already, please read my article on Marino that profiles his struggle to win over the past several years. http://prosportsblogging.com/pga-tour/pga-tour-sleeper-steve-marino/ Since that article was written in early February; Marino had opportunities at the 2011 Pebble Beach National Pro Am and the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational to secure his first victory. Fortunately, what Marino has going for him these days is only his perseverance but valuable experience having played in the 2010 Masters. No doubt, Marino remains a long shot to pull off his 1st PGA Tour win at the Masters, however if there is anyone right now that deserves this improbable feat, it would be him.
About the Author
Written by High Fade
I am a PGA and European Tour golf enthusiast with a passion for writing. My goal is to provide you with insightful and informative player profiles and tournament content.