There’s little doubt on Tour that the game is getting younger. Players arrive on Tour more prepared than ever and some of the best golfers in the world today are only beginning their careers in the game.
Ahead of 2019, we thought we would profile the best of the best when it comes to the younger generation.
Below are the ten best players on the European Tour aged under 25 years old. The list is ordered by their current Official World Golf Ranking.
10. Sean Crocker
Sean Crocker is a Zimbabwe-born American currently competing on the European Tour. His father, Gary, played cricket internationally for Zimbabwe and was forced to move his family to California when Sean was very young. From there he went to the University of Southern California, where he was a two-time All American. He lost to Bryson DeChambeau in the semi-final of the 2015 US Amateur before turning pro in 2017. In 11 Challenge Tour tournaments that year, Crocker finished in the top three on four occasions to secure a European Tour card for 2019. He also qualified for The Open Championship last year, where he made the cut and finished in a tie for 47th.
9. Sam Horsfield
He represents England but Sam Horsfield has lived in the US since he was five years old. He attended the University of Florida for two years, being named an All-American in 2016, before turning professional in 2017. In one of the most gruelling weeks in golf, Horsfield put his name on the map by winning the European Tour Qualifying School by eight shots thanks to a final round 63. In 29 starts in his rookie year, the 22 year old had three top five finishes including a runner-up finish at the Tshwane Open and an impressive tied fifth result in his debut appearance at the British Masters.
8. Marcus Kinhult
The son of a teaching pro, Marcus Kinhult is one of a group of young Swedish players making a name for themselves on the European Tour. His junior career was highlighted by appearances at the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup and Youth Olympics, where he won a silver medal behind fellow pro Renato Paratore. A year later he became only the third amateur to lead a European Tour event at the halfway stage after opening with 68-67 in the Nordea Masters in his homeland. Kinhult earned his Tour card via the Challenge Tour in 2017, where he finished fifth in the Order of Merit. In 2018, the 22 year old had three top five finishes on the European Tour, including at the HNA Open de France where he led after 54 holes.
7. Ardi Arnaus
Although a European Tour rookie this year, not many players have a golfing resume to match Adri Arnaus. Born and raised in Barcelona, Arnaus attended Texas A&M University from 2012 to 2016 before returning to amateur golf in Spain. In 2017 he won the Spanish Amateur Championship before leading the Spanish team to victory at the European Amateur Team Championship. After a season on the Alps Tour, where he won twice, Arnaus broke out on the Challenge Tour in 2018 with eight top ten finishes in 22 starts including a victory in the season-ending Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final. The 24 year old ended 2018 with a ninth place finsh at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in just his third start of his rookie European Tour season.
6. Aaron Rai
Known to many as the “guy that wears two gloves”, Aaron Rai has proved to be far more than that. The Englishman turned pro in 2012 aged just 17 and has progressed through the PGA EuroPro Tour and Challenge Tour to gain full status on the European Tour. After a solid rookie season on Tour, that saw him finish in the top ten four times and qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, Rai hit the headlines in November. In the first event of the 2019 season, Rai won the Honma Hong Kong Open in wire-to-wire fashion, holding off fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick to triumph by a shot.
5. Shubhankar Sharma
It’s almost a year since Shubhankar Sharma announced himself on the European Tour, winning the Joburg Open in just his tenth start. Less than two months later he doubled his win tally with a final round 62 at the Maybank Championship. The Indian added another two top ten finishes in what would amount to an excellent campaign in 2018, when he became the Rookie of the Year. On the verge of the top 100 in the world and with full playing rights in 2019, the future looks bright for the 22 year old.
4. Lucas Herbert
Big-hitting Australian Lucas Herbert enjoyed an notable first season on the European Tour in 2018. He had the most top ten finishes of any rookie last season, with seven, including a runner-up finish in Portugal where he led after 54 holes. He also made his first two Major starts at the U.S. Open Championship and Open Championship. Having started last year ranked outside the top 700 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Herbert enters 2019 ranked in the top 85.
3. Li Haotong
Aged just 23 years old, Li Haotong has already put together an impressive career in the game. Having turned pro aged just 16 in 2011, Li won three times on the PGA Tour China in 2014. In his first full European Tour season two years later, Li won again in his home country at the Volvo China Open. In 2018, he became the highest-ranked Chinese male golfer ever following his second European Tour win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Now a regular at the top of European Tour leaderboards, Li is certainly one to watch in 2019 and beyond.
2. Matt Fitzpatrick
It seems strange to consider Matt Fitzpatrick as a youngster on Tour, but at 24 years old he is still early on in his career. A former Boys Amateur Champion, US Amateur winner and Silver Medal winner at The Open, Fitzpatrick’s joined the paid ranks with an excellent reputation. Now five years on, Fitzpatrick has become one of the top players in Europe with an all-round game based on consistency. Along with Alex Noren, he is the only player to win in each of the last four European Tour seasons and has already amassed 26 top ten finishes.
1. Jon Rahm
As well as being one of the best young players in the game, Jon Rahm has solidified himself as one of the best players in the world. Currently sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking, the Spaniard has been as high as Number Two. Having turned pro just two years ago, Rahm has picked up six professional wins, with a win rate second only to Tiger Woods. In 27 starts on the European Tour, Rahm has three wins, 11 top tens and just two missed cuts. With two top five finishes in Majors in 2018, the 24 year old will have his sights set on the game’s top tournaments in 2019.