Something happened in golf this year.
23-year-old Swedish rookie Ludwig Eberg, who has never played in the majors, was selected for the Ryder Cup alongside his lesser-known 22-year-old Danish twin Nicolai Højgaard. Two 25-year-olds and 21-year-old Runing Yin won four of the five women’s majors, and one of the biggest stories in sports, 20-year-old Stanford phenom Rose Zhang, went from historic amateur to fastest LPGA Tour winner.
Amateur Sam Bennett kept his name on the Masters leaderboard for two days in Augusta. Victor Hovland went on a historic August warm-up to stake his claim as the best golfer in the world – before his 26th birthday. Oh, and South Korean star Tom Kim has reached world No. 11 at the age of 21.
Youth has always been an integral part of golf, a sport that has always produced celebrities and superstars since childhood. So maybe this isn’t new. But since this is such an exciting time for young golfers, it’s a great opportunity to take a look at the 25 best golfers you’ve ever known.
A few you already know because their successes have demanded your attention, and some are operating under the radar but could be next. Without further ado, meet your next generation.
(Note: List is in alphabetical order by last name)
Ludwig Åberg (24, Sweden)
He is tall. He is strong. Except for one or two players in the world who can drive the ball more and more accurately. And Ludwig Åberg doesn’t come anymore. He is here. After winning All-National Collegiate honors at Texas Tech and breaking some of Rickie Fuller’s Big 12 records, Åberg immediately turned pro and hung in the top 40 in all events. Then he won the European Masters and got himself a place in the Ryder Cup 23. He and partner Victor Hovland dominated the foursomes in two perfect matches – including the biggest explosion in the history of the Ryder Cup against Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka – on the way to Europe. Victory. And then he rolled on the PGA Tour fall slate, going T2, T13 and T10 before winning the RSM Classic on Sunday to qualify for the Masters and two signature events. The only remaining question is if he can compete for the majors in 2024.
Akshay Bhatia (21, USA)
Instead of going to college, Bhatia decided to turn professional at the age of 17. While other stars his age (and on this list) were winning college awards and learning how to be top dogs, Bhatia was learning how to be a pro. This means learning how to deal with the good and the bad. He didn’t make the cut in the 2020 season, and 2021 wasn’t much better, so he went down to the Korn Ferry Tour and found out. And with all that, he’s still only 21. Now, he’s playing well in the PGA Tour’s fall events, indicating he may be ready to step up.
Sam Bennett (23, USA)
The best thing about Sam Bennett is that no one saw it coming. He wasn’t the most celebrated young star when he won the 2022 US Amateur. In the year And then, while people still wrote it off as a good story, he turned pro and got a T20 at the Canadian Open and made the tournament at the US Open. His form has dipped this summer and autumn, but we can’t forget Sam Bennett. He is competitive.
The teacher’s most shocking rival is the gum of Sam Bennett
Jacob Bridgman (23, USA)
Bridgman was a star at Clemson, winning the ACC title and finishing second in the PGA Tour University Rankings, earning him a spot on the Korn Ferry Tour. And at 23, Bridgman had an impressively consistent first full professional season. 14 top-20 wins and a 14th place finish in the final KFT standings earned him a tour card in 2024. He’s undefeated yet, but he’s proven he can be a week-in, week-out professional and undefeated. Vol.
Nick Dunlap (19, USA)
It was Åberg. Then there is Gordon Sargent (more on him later). And then the next in line of superstar amateurs is Dunlap. He went to Alabama last year as the top junior golfer in the country, and by the end of his freshman year he had announced himself as a star to watch. He won the US Amateur in June, beating Sargen in a playoff to earn first-team All-SEC honors. He joins Tiger Woods as the only male golfer to win both the US Junior Amateur and the US Amateur, and he is already No. 3 in the world.
Parker Cuddy (23, USA)
Parker, the older of the Cuddy twins (by 37 minutes), was a key part of Texas’ 2022 national title team and finished T2 in the individual national title. Then, he turned pro on the PGA Tour Canada that summer and won an event in Manitoba before moving to Korn Ferry in 2023. He missed four of his first five cuts, but warmed up and finished with five top-five finishes and a top-30 season and a PGA Tour card for 2024. The Cuddy brothers are the grandsons of 1971 Masters champion Charles Cuddy. .
Pearson Cody (23, USA)
Both Cuddy brothers earned their PGA Tour cards this year, but Pearson earned it in slightly simpler fashion. Once the world’s top amateur, Pearson was also on the 2022 national title team in Texas and immediately earned Korn Ferry status by finishing first at the PGA Tour University. He then won his first professional tournament in 2022 in just his third event, and won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2023, easily securing his card for 2024.
Adrian Dumont de Chassart (23, Belgium)
Dumont de Chassart, the Big Ten Golfer of the Year at Illinois, won his first Korn Boat Tour as a pro in June at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. Perhaps more impressively, he opened his pro career with six consecutive top-10 finishes, entering the conversation as a wild-card Ryder Cup candidate. So, in a few months in the minor league, Dumont de Chassart was able to jump to number 11 on the KFT rankings and get himself a PGA Tour card in 2024. He is likely to make European Ryder Cup teams in the future. .
Austin Eckroth (24, USA)
At just 24 years old, Eckroat announced himself with a US Open record-tying 29-under at Los Angeles Country Club on Sunday to finish T10 for the first time as a professional. The four-time All-American from Oklahoma State had to fight for his PGA Tour card in 2022 at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, and his 2023 was impressive. He missed 13 cuts but finished T2 at Byron Nelson, 5th at Punta Cana, T10 at the US Open, T16 at Charles Schwab and T24 at the Travelers Championship. But when he had a chance to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he missed a series of cuts. Eckroat is a huge talent, ending his fall campaign with a top 10 finish at RSM, so he’s an interesting one to watch in 2024.
Ayaka Furu (23, Japan)
Furu has emerged as a star on the Japan Tour, without an LPGA card until 2022, but has established herself as one of the most competitive golfers on the verge of making the leap. In addition to winning eight tournaments in Japan, she earned her first LPGA win in 2022. But perhaps the most surprising thing is that Furu has put herself in major tournaments. At the age of 21, she finished 4th at the Evian Championship and finished 2023 with runs of T8, T6, T36 and T21 in the last four majors. She is clearly on her way.
Nasa Hataoka (24, Japan)
She is probably the closest any golfer has ever come to the most majors without winning one. At age 17, Hataoka became the youngest player and first amateur to win a Japan LPGA major and joined the LPGA Tour the following year. By the time Hataoka turned 23, she had six LPGA wins in Japan and six more. Hataoka thrived in majors, albeit in short bursts—nine top-10 finishes, and two majors she made the finals in, losing both. The first came at the 2018 PGA Championship in a triple play at 19, and the second came to Yuka Saso at the 2021 US Open.
Nicolai Hodjard (22, Denmark)
Apart from the European-winning Ryder Cup team, Højgaard didn’t steal the show or command the attention like Åberg did, but he had plenty of moments to express his talent in clutch moments. He’s been accumulating accolades for years now, winning the 2018 European Amateur and helping Denmark win the 2018 Eisenhower Cup, but last weekend’s win at the DP World Tour Championship against many of the world’s best golfers could be the final step. He is certainly one of those people. He now has three DP World Tour wins and has made cuts at both the PGA Championship and Open Championship this summer, even earning a T23 at Royal Liverpool. Højgaard must be one of the next generation stars.
Rasmus Højgaard (22, Denmark)
The second set of twins on this list, Rasmus actually has more wins than Nikolai with four DP World Tour wins to his name. He didn’t reach the public highs the way his brother received Ryder Cup calls. Still, Rasmus has some big wins like the European Masters and is currently 4th in Europe, T25, T26, T16 and T6 in his last five events. Ranked 10th in the DP World Tour Race to Dubai, he missed out on 10th place after a disastrous finish to the championship, but has no doubt been a big part of the Scandinavian’s progress.
Tom Kim (21, South Korea)
If this list ranks, Kim might be the top male golfer. In the year In 2022, at age 20, he announced himself by winning the Wyndham Championship, the Shriners Children’s Open and stealing the show at the Presidents Cup. But in the year 2023 looks like the year to prove that hype right. He climbed to No. 13 in the DataGolf Rankings with 15 top-20 finishes in his first full PGA Tour, and excelled at majors with T16 at Augusta, T8 at the US Open and T2 at the Open Championship. His win again in Las Vegas in October made it even more clear – Kim may not have the drive length of other young stars, but his ironwork and play have the potential to create a special career.
A 20-year-old boy unlike any other is golf’s next global star.
Christo Lamprecht (22, South Africa)
Remember Christo Lamprecht? The 6-foot-8 South African who beat the British amateur and took a first-round lead at the Open Championship a few weeks later? Well, it’s not just some amazing story. He’s an exciting young man who jumped to No. 1 in the world amateur rankings this fall after winning another amateur in September. The Georgia Tech star is currently No. 2 in the PGA Tour university rankings (where the winner gets an automatic tour card) and has automatic exemptions for the 2024 Masters and US Open, so we’ll get plenty of chances to see that. An absurdly tall young man.
Ingrid Lindblad (23, Sweden)
Once Rose Zhang turned professional, Lindblad became the world’s No. 1 amateur. She is the Swedish star most famous for holding the 2022 amateur US Open 18-hole scoring record. She scored a 65 at Pine Needle in 2022, helping Sweden win the 2019 and 2020 European Women’s Team Championships and was named SEC Player of the Year. at LSU. The following year, she won the 2021 European Ladies Amateur Championship in Italy three times and then finished second at the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur. She’s made a big turnaround so far, but Lindblad is one of the best young stars in golf.
David Pugh (21, Spain)
The only LIV golfer on this list, Puig’s move from Arizona State to turn pro and join LIV was a major coup for the fledgling league. He was becoming one of the best amateurs in the world, and joined Torquay GC in 2023. He finished 31st in the LIV rankings and is currently a free agent, but has finished T5 and T3 the last two months before warming up on the Asian Tour, including a win in Singapore. Time will tell what happens with the LIV golfers when it comes to the European Ryder Cup team, but in theory Puig has the talent for the next generation of European majors.
Gordon Sargent (20, USA)
Sargent is a superstar on the amateur circuit, even though he currently has no first place overall and has never won a US Amateur. He’s the name everyone’s talking about, a long, controlled driver who won the 2022 individual national title at Vanderbilt and won the US Open in June. While the excitement surrounding his talent is at Åberg’s level, Sargent is four years younger. And thanks to the new PGA Tour U Accelerated program, Sargent will automatically have PGA Tour status every time he turns pro.
Yuka Sasso (22, Japan/Philippines)
Sasso is a Filipino-born Japanese golfer who turned pro at age 18 and won two Japan LPGA events in one year. Then, just weeks before her 20th birthday, Sasso made a big leap by winning the 2021 US Open in a playoff against Hataoka, winning the event for the youngest. She is currently ranked No. 24 in the Rolex Rankings and has two top-five major rankings in 2023.
Caleb Surratt (19, USA)
By the end of his freshman season at Tennessee, he won an individual SEC championship, became the first first-team All-American in school history and made the Walker Cup team that took down Great Britain and Ireland in St. Andrews. He then made the cut at the Bermuda Butterfield Championship on the PGA Tour. Still in his teens, he could be up there as a top name to watch for years.
Ataya Thitikul (20, Thailand)
It’s been a dream come true for Tittle, world No. 1 at 20 and LPGA Tour Rookie at 19. At 19 she won the Open Championship and at 16 she became the world’s top amateur. In the year In 2022, she won two LPGA Tour events.
Michael Thorbjornsen (22, USA)
For whatever reason, Torjornsen hasn’t gotten the same attention as Sargent, Åberg or Dunlap, but he’s been one of the top amateurs for years, winning the Pac-12 title last year and making it to the 2019 US Open. Still 18. Thorbjornsen has done well in a limited professional start, with a T17 at the 2022 Travelers Championship and a T17 at the John Deere Classic in July, plus a T20 at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic. The Stanford star is the No. 4 amateur in the world, and will be one to follow when he turns pro.
Running Yin (21, China)
This September, Yin became world No. 1 at just 21 years old. It was a rapid rise – she dominated the Chinese amateur circuit, winning nine junior amateur events and the national amateur championship. As a 17-year-old professional, she won her first three China LPGA Tour events (a record) and took the top 10 in the world rankings with her first win of the 2023 PGA Championship this year.
Angela Zhang (14, USA)
Meet the 14-year-old golfer from Washington who qualified for the US Open this summer. She reached the semifinals of the US Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship (against 14-year-old Alice Zhou) and won her first women’s 7-9 drive, chip and putt event at Augusta National. She drove the ball 33 yards from her nearest competitor. She can now drive 240 meters, and we will see her in more major locations soon.
Rose Zhang (20, USA)
Let’s save the big event for last. Zhang is a Tiger Woods-esque phenomenon in women’s golf, the former Stanford star who won the 2020 US Amateur and then captured the individual national titles in 2022 and 2023. Oh yeah, and she won the 2023 Augusta National Women’s Amateur. And she held the women’s record for 142 weeks as the world’s No. 1 amateur. Turning pro this year was big news when she won her first professional LPGA Tour event. And to top it all off, she’s had three consecutive top-10 majors this year, only proving that she’s on pace to become one of the all-time greats.
The world is ready for Rose Zhang. Is she ready for the world?
(Best photos: Jonathan Bachman, Orlando Ramirez and Dylan Buell / Getty Images)