Writer: Lucas Garza
10. Doug Ghim
University of Texas Senior Doug Ghim made an incredible run at the U.S. Amateur in 2017. His runner-up finish gave him exemptions into the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open. The standout amateur had a great summer season in 2017, and is looking to capture the low amateur honors in the two majors he will be playing in this year.
9. Will Zalatoris
Will Zalatoris has decided to forgo his final college semester in order to turn professional. The Dallas native, who has won the Texas Amateur, will leave Wake Forest, and will play off of sponsor exemptions to try to make a spot on the PGA TOUR. This is the exact same route that another Dallas native took, Jordan Spieth. Playing off a limited number of exemptions is difficult, but gives golfers valuable professional experience.
8. Patrick Cantlay
After going through injuries and dealing with personal issues, Cantaly played off exemptions in 2017 and surprised the TOUR with his play. In just his second tournament back, he finished runner-up at the Valspar Championship. He played well for the majority of the season, and then won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at the beginning of the 2017-2018 wrap around season. Cantlay’s no nonsense attitude could give him more wins on the season.
7. Marc Leishman
The Australian who has taken many early leads in majors was able to win two big PGA TOUR tournaments in 2017. Leishman won the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since Mr. Palmer’s passing, and he was able to win a playoff event. He now has the confidence to continue playing well when he takes leads. Leishman is also one of the most likeable players on TOUR, and his charisma shows on the course.
6. Tony Finau
The big hitter seems to be putting more time into his game lately. He has had solid finishes in each of the major championships except for the Masters because he has never played in it, until 2018. FInau has been able to climb the world rankings high enough to receive an invitation to Augusta National this year. With his low, powerful cut, he could be able to contend in multiple tournaments moving forward.
5. Jon Rahm
Rahm had a fantastic 2017 buy winning three times worldwide. His short but powerful swing has been a favorite of analysts everywhere. Rahm is also known for his hot temper on the course, and has been seen yelling at fans and camera men multiple times. He has a super smooth putting stroke, and he likes to ride on his confidence. Rahm could make another run of good play as he did last year.
4. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is back. He played in his first tournament since February of 2017 last month. At the Hero World Challenge, Woods took the lead in the second round, but was taken over by a few great players. His swing has changed, but he is rotating again. HIs motions are clearly restricted way after his back surgeries, but he is hitting the ball far. When Tiger plays, people watch, so expect a larger golf audience this season as long as Tiger stays healthy.
3. Dustin Johnson & Jordan Spieth
Over the past few years, Johnson and Spieth have proven that they are the best players in the world. Tiger has been gone, and Rory has been struggling, leaving these two take over the golfing world. They have completely different games, but are both light-hearted and competitive. When the two are at the top of their games, they are nearly unstoppable and fun to watch.
2. Justin Thomas & Rickie Fowler
Justin Thomas owned the 2017 golf season, and capped it off with a win at the PGA Championship. He will be expected to carry his good play in to the new year, but he has proven to be a streaky player. 2018 has been expected to be Rickie Fowler’s year, being fueled by the major achievements of his close friends. Rickie is the best putter on TOUR, but seems to struggle making big time birdie putts in majors. No matter what, these two will be expected to win multiple times in 2018.
1. Justin Rose
Rose is the hottest player in the world right now. Since his missed cut the the PGA Championship, he has had ten consecutive top 10 finishes, including three world wide wins. Rose lost the 2017 Masters playoff the Sergio Garcia, but Rose has seemed to be in much better form since then. He will be looking to add more major championships to his 2013 U.S. Open victory.