An exceptionally strong core of young American golfers asserted its dominance over the sport in emphatic style in 2017.
US stars with an average age of 25 won three out of the four available majors and the future looks extremely bright for the American Ryder Cup team. Fans across the world were treated to another thrilling 12 months of golf in 2017, a year packed full of intriguing storylines, star turns from budding giants of the game and plenty of nail-biting finishes to big tournaments. Here are the top five stars of 2017:
- Justin Rose
Rose achieved T10 finishes in his final 10 tournaments of 2017 to move up to sixth in the world. He won three of his last six, including a sensational eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Open, and heads into 2018 in fine form. He went into a sudden-death playoff against his great friend Sergio Garcia at The Masters, only to miss out on winning a second career major. But he responded superbly and improved as the year went on. At the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in October, he went into the final day trailing by eight shots but stormed back to overhaul world number one Dustin Johnson on the final day to claim an improbable victory. He will be a real threat to the golfing elite at this year’s majors thanks to his all-round brilliance.
- Hideki Matsuyama
Matsuyama can now lay claim to being the world’s best player without a major to his name. The Japanese has long held down a place in the top five of the Official World Golf Ranking chart and rose as high as number two when he finished runner-up at the US Open in June. He shared the lead at the halfway stage of the PGA Championship before falling away, and it seems like only a matter of time before the 25-year-old joins an elite club of major winners. But he still won three Tour titles, including his first World Golf Championship, along with $8.4 million in prize money in 2017, and displayed great consistency throughout the year.
- Dustin Johnson
It is testament to Johnson’s prowess that he held onto the world number one spot throughout 2017, despite suffering an injury that kept him out of the Masters. He did not add to his tally of majors in 2017, but he did win four Tour titles for the first time and moved up to sixth in the career money list. He also became the first player to ever win all four WGC crowns after a dominant performance at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event. Johnson is on the ninth longest streak atop the world rankings in PGA tour history and nobody looks like dislodging him any time soon.
- Jordan Spieth
Spieth roared back to form in 2017, winning his third career major at The Open and taking two further Tour titles. Spieth was named PGA Rookie of the Year in 2013 and continued to impress the following year, but really hit the big time in 2015. That year he won the Masters and the US Open at the tender age of 22, establishing himself as a superstar of the present and the future. He reached number one in the world and was expected to continue his dominance in 2016, but his form tailed off.
He suffered one of the most spectacular collapses of all-time at The Masters, blowing a five-shot lead, and dropped to third in the world, with just one title and no majors to his name.
2017 was a comeback year of epic proportions as Spieth, who took his 10th PGA title with a playoff win in the Travelers Championship. At Royal Birkdale he claimed The Open, becoming only the second man after Jack Nicklaus to win three of the four majors before his 24th birthday. A couple of runner-up finishes put him in contention for the FedEx Cup title, but he ultimately finished second, as well as ending up second on the 2017 money list. He is expected to continue his resurgence in 2018 and is currently the favourite in the US Masters 2018 odds as he has been exceptionally strong at Augusta over the years.
- Justin Thomas
Thomas enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 and usurped childhood friend Spieth by topping the money list, winning the FedEx Cup and claiming a first major.
Thomas was named PGA Golfer of the Year and earned a cool $9.9 million throughout 2017. While Spieth and Thomas were always considered wunderkinds, it was the former that rose to stardom quicker, soaring to the top of the world rankings, while Thomas claimed just one Tour victory in his first two years as a pro and was lurking on the outskirts of the elite. But Spieth’s success pushed him to achieve greater feats and he delivered on his promise in 2017, winning the PGA Championship ahead of Matsuyama.
He took five Tour titles in total and dominated the end of year awards. He finished 2017 at number three in the world rankings and the future looks extremely rosy for American golf thanks to the talents of Thomas, Spieth, Johnson, Rickie Fowler, US Open winner Brooks Koepka and more. But right now Thomas is in the ascendancy and he is the man to beat heading into 2018’s majors.