Golf 2018 Players ready to make the leap ESPN Jason Sobel’s list

Golf


It’s that time again.

I’ve been writing this column for nearly a decade, trying to identify which golfers are going to make The Leap.

What does that mean? Well, think of it this way: These are the players who will jump to another level this year. For example, Jordan Spieth or Dustin Johnson winning a major wouldn’t be a leap, but a player achieving his first major win — let’s say, the first name on this list — would indeed be leaping.

So, here they are. Ten picks to be movin’ on up.

Rickie Fowler

The Leap: Major champion
I know, I know. Been there, done that. So many have predicted that Fowler, who plays some of his best golf in the biggest events, will win a major at some point, only to be met with varying levels of discouragement when he comes up short. That stops this year. The best part about Fowler’s pursuit of his first major is that he’s not partial to any particular event, having contended at all four already. Which means he has four great opportunities ahead.

Tony Finau

The Leap: Top 10 in world ranking
Last year in this column, I cautiously predicted that up-and-comer Jon Rahm would ascend into the top 50 in the world. Well, technically that wasn’t wrong, but he exceeded expectations by reaching the No. 4 spot. I’m going bolder on Finau, who starts at 40th but has the game to be among the elite players.

Francesco Molinari

The Leap: Tour Championship competitor
Look, at 21st in the world, Molinari isn’t exactly sneaking up on anyone. But he still has done most of his damage overseas. That will change in 2018, when he contends for a major, wins on U.S. soil for the first time and spins his brand of solid ballstriking into a PGA Tour campaign that ends at East Lake.

Jamie Lovemark

The Leap: PGA Tour win
One of my favorite barometers for measuring the talents of professional golfers against each other is the PGA Tour’s all-around ranking, which takes into account statistical marks from multiple important categories. A quick look at last year’s list shows Fowler at the top, followed closely by Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama. In fact, each of the first 23 has won on the PGA Tour, leaving Lovemark, at 24th, as a logical choice to put it all together and finally claim his first career title.

Xander Schauffele

The Leap: Ryder Cup team member
He won the Greenbrier Classic and the Tour Championship, part of a summertime rally that compared favorably against his peers. And yet, it still feels as if Schauffele hasn’t been celebrated as much as other young players. Here’s thinking he’ll use that as fuel and claim one of the 12 coveted spots on the ultracompetitive U.S. roster, beating out a few of the more heralded prospects.

Austin Cook

The Leap: Multiple PGA Tour wins
I’m cheating here a little, since the rookie already claimed the first step of this leap, having won the RSM Classic in the early part of this season. I don’t think he’s done, though. Much like Patrick Reed before him, Cook became a Monday qualifier legend before owning status — and, as we’ve seen, that ability often translates into success when the pressure is greatest.

Dylan Frittelli

The Leap: Multiple European Tour wins
Different tour, same cheat code. Like Cook, Frittelli already owns a Euro Tour title this season (and two overall), but he’s hardly done. The former University of Texas teammate of Jordan Spieth is going to be the next young player to take familiar footsteps, using prowess in Europe to qualify for bigger tournaments, parlaying that into more world ranking points and, soon enough, a spot on the PGA Tour.

Minjee Lee

The Leap: Top 5 in world ranking

Fresh off a season in which she claimed 10 top-10 results without a win, the former No. 1-ranked amateur could be on the verge of a major breakthrough. At 21, the Aussie already owns finishes of 12th or better at every major, showing her versatility at different venues. Expect all of these close calls to become big successes this year.

Angel Yin

The Leap: LPGA win
Really, there are plenty of leaps this 19-year-old will make in 2018, but let’s start with the one that yields some hardware. With a dozen top-25 finishes last season and her first professional victory on the LET (Ladies European Tour), Yin is on the verge of bigger things. And she’ll keep hitting it big, too: She ranked fourth in driving distance at just over 272 yards per tee shot.

Andrew Landry

The Leap: FedEx Cup top 70
Besides Cook, there were some other rookies making waves in the early part of the PGA Tour season, including Ben Silverman, Brandon Harkins and Tyler Duncan. But the pick here is Landry, who contended at the 2016 U.S. Open and owns two Web.com wins. Why top 70? That would get him all the way to the BMW Championship for the third leg of the playoffs, a strong season by any measure.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *