A lot has been said about the PGA Tour’s 2019 rookie class since the trio of Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland took the professional ranks by storm fresh out college.
The rising stars of professional golf, alongside fellow young guns Sungjae Im and Joaquin Niemann, made some history this week with their placements on the Official World Golf Ranking. For the first time, five players age 23 or younger are inside the top 25 of the world rankings.
Morikawa, 23, leads the group and sits at World No. 4 behind old-timers Dustin Johnson (age 36), Jon Rahm (age 26) and Justin Thomas (age 27).
Hovland, also 23, is next at 14th, with the 21-year-old Wolff – Hovland’s former Oklahoma State teammate – right behind him in 15th. Im and Niemann, both age 22, rank No. 18 and No. 25, respectively.
For comparison’s sake, Wolff was 9 years old when current World No. 1 Johnson won his first PGA Tour event in 2008. Do you feel old yet?
The next generation?
For the first time in the history of the World Rankings, five players in the top 25 are aged 23 or younger.
— GOLFTV (@GOLFTV) January 18, 2021
Coming off his 2019 NCAA individual title, Matthew Wolff won the 3M Open, outdueling Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau with an eagle on the last hole to join Tiger Woods and Ben Crenshaw as the only players to win an NCAA title and PGA Tour event in the same calendar year.
Morikawa was next, winning the 2019 Barracuda Championship as well as 2020’s Workday Charity Open and PGA Championship. Hovland claimed the 2020 Puerto Rico, then broke the event’s curse by winning December’s Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Im was 2019’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year after his debut season featured 26 made cuts in 35 starts, both of which led the Tour. He earned seven top-10 finishes and played 118 rounds, 18 more than the next player. In 2020 he won the Honda Classic for his first Tour win.
Niemann has jumped 20 spots from 45th since the end of 2020 thanks to consecutive runner-up finishes in Hawaii to start 2021. After missing the cut at last season’s Northern Trust, the first Chilean to ever win on Tour – 2019’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier – has finished inside the top 25 in eight of his last 10 starts. His two outside the top 25? Finishes of T-28 at the Tour Championship and T-44 at the RSM Classic.
To put a slight twist on the Tour’s old slogan, these kids are good.