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Thrash Talk: A Bright Future


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By Cody Thrasher via TheSandTrap.com
The early part of 2006 has seen the rise of a few young guns on the PGA Tour.

tt_title.gifTiger Woods exploded onto the scene nearly a decade ago and proved early and often that he was a force to be reckoned with on the PGA Tour. A few years later, Sergio Garcia stole the hearts of golf fans worldwide en route to stamping his claim as a young up-and-comer. Adam Scott and Luke Donald soon followed Garcia, quickly placing their names into the hat of "young guns."

Tiger's résumé speaks for itself. It's obvious he is one of, if not, the best young golfer to come along in the history of golf. Garcia, Scott, and Donald have all been very successful on the PGA Tour, and they are all currently ranked in the top 10 in the world. That's pretty awesome in its own right. While these three haven't been as successful as Woods, they will still be a huge part of golf's future.

These four were once considered the young guns on the PGA Tour. Even though they are all still young, they aren't rookies by any stretch of the imagination. They are all seasoned veterans. That being said, it's time for some new golfers to take the place of the past young guns and become a part of that class themsevles. Early in the 2006 season, three golfers have gotten the attention of PGA Tour fans everywhere.

The three golfers that have gotten everyone's attention are Camilo Villegas, J.B. Holmes, and Bubba Watson. I'm going to talk a little about each golfer and whether or not their future will be as bright as former young guns of the PGA Tour. I'm also going to mention a couple young guys I feel will break out and become young guns in the near future.

Camilo Villegas
There is no question Camilo Villegas is the most popular golfer in this new wave of young guns. The young Colombian has had an awesome following so far on the Florida Swing, and he has given fans a lot to cheer for along the way. Villegas has consistently put himself in contention on the weekend, racking up two runner-up finishes already in the 2006 season. He hasn't won a tournament yet, but he is off to a great start in his PGA Tour career.

camilo_villegas_aim.jpgAs far as Villegas' future goes, he is definitely a front-runner for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Out of all the new young guns, Villegas will win the most tournaments over his career. He is already getting used to playing in the last few groups on Sunday, and that experience will pay off much sooner rather than later. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me at all if Villegas finds the winner's circle in the next month or two.

Camilo Villegas, also known for his unique green-reading and dressing style, has quickly become a huge favorite here at The Sand Trap as well. Fellow staffer Jeff Gladchun wrote a great article on Villegas a few weeks ago, so check it out if you haven't already. The Colombian definitely has the "it" factor that only a handful of current professional golfers have.

J.B. Holmes
J.B. Holmes has something that Camilo Villegas doesn't have, and that is a PGA Tour victory. Holmes came out of nowhere to win the FBR Open earlier this season. The 23-year-old native of Kentucky has taken the PGA Tour by storm so far in 2006, but he has flown under the radar in doing so. Holmes currently sits 11th on the money list.

J.B. Holmes is currently second in driving distance, so there is no doubting his power off the tee. However, like so many other big bombers, his driving accuracy is lacking (155th). Holmes has struggled a little since winning the FBR Open, and it will be interesting to see if he will be another one-hit wonder on the PGA Tour. Nonetheless, the future is still bright at the moment for the young man from Kentucky. Only time will tell how much more success he will obtain at the professional level. There is no doubt in my mind that Holmes will win numerous times on the PGA Tour.

Bubba Watson
Like Holmes, Bubba Watson has something these others don't currently have, and that's the label of longest driver on the PGA Tour. That's right, Watson is currently ranked first in driving distance. Any time a golfer can hit the ball an average of 320 yards off the tee, he or she will garner a little extra attention. That's certainly the case for this Floridian.

While Watson is not as young as Villegas or Holmes, he is still a new face to PGA Tour fans. Watson just turned 27, so he can still be considered a young gun as far as I'm concerned. After Villegas and Holmes, Watson is probably next in line as far as top rookies go. He currently sits 38th on the money list and 10th in greens in regulation percentage. Like Holmes, Watson needs some work when it comes to driving accuracy, but hitting it 320 yards off the tee is a good start.

Bubba Watson will have a solid future on the PGA Tour, but he won't be nearly as good as Villegas or Holmes. I still wouldn't rule out a future win or two along the way, but that's often easier said than done at the professional level. At this point in time, it's nice to see the young guy playing good golf. I hope it continues in the future.

Golfers to Keep an Eye On
moore_putting.jpgThe three golfers I already talked about are getting the most rookie headlines so far, but it's only a matter of time before Ryan Moore and Bubba Dickerson make their way back into the spotlight. Both golfers are past U.S. Amateur champions and both have showed positive signs in their young PGA Tour careers. I wrote a Thrash Talk on Ryan Moore last year, and I gave him a lot of high praise.

Moore finished strong at the 2005 Masters, and he is my "dark horse" pick this year. He will be in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour before this season is over. Out of all the possible young guns, Ryan Moore will be the best. He earned his PGA Tour card for 2006 after turning professional right before the British Open. That is a great accomplishment, and he will go on to win many tournaments in his career.

Bubba Dickerson is another young golfer who has a good upside. He may be more of a long-shot than these other young golfers, but it's still a possibility. Dickerson finished in a tie for 18th at the Chrysler Classic of Tuscon earlier this season, and he had a strong performance going this past weekend at Bay Hill before shooting a final-round 76. It's taken him a little while to recover from his U.S. Amateur hangover, but he should have a strong year in 2006 and continue his improvement.

The Final Say
All of these young guns could have great careers, and all of them could fall of the planet at any given time. That's just how golf is. Charles Howell III was supposed to be the next great American after Tiger Woods, but unfortunately, it hasn't worked out that way quite yet. Howell III has played well the past few years, but he hasn't lived up to previous expectations. The same can be said for Aaron Baddeley and Justin Rose. It's just the nature of the beast.

Camilo Villegas, J.B. Holmes, and Bubba Watson have things going in the right direction this year. It's just a matter of maintaining the good play and finishing strong on the weekends. There are a lot of great golfers on the PGA Tour, and it doesn't take long for guys to fall down the list with bad play. It's a must for these up-and-coming young guns to be consistent and keep improving. After that, everything else should fall into place, and the future will be even brighter for golf fans everywhere.

That's all I have to say this week. What do you think about the article? Who is your favorite young golfer on the PGA Tour? Also, which of these golfers do you think will breakout and become one of the greats on the PGA Tour? Finally, which young golfers not listed above will explode onto the scene very soon? If you have anything to add, feel free to comment below or discuss it in the forum. Thanks for reading Thrash Talk this week and enjoy The Players Championship at Sawgrass! I know I will.

Photo Credits: © PGA Tour, © John Mummert, USGA.

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