PGA Young Guns: 2011 High School Class Hits PGA Tour

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Jan 15, 2017; Honolulu, HI, USA; PGA golfer Justin Thomas acknowledges the fans as he walks up the 18th fairway during the Sony Open golf tournament at Waialae Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

What do PGA Tour young guns Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Emiliano Grillo, Patrick Rodgers and Ollie Schniederjans have in common? They are all 2011 high school graduates.

2017 may be the year of the high school class of 2011 on the PGA Tour. Justin Thomas has captured two quick early season wins. Patrick Rodgers and Ollie Schniederjans finished in the top 10 at Torrey Pines. Emiliano Grillo and Daniel Berger are looking hungrier than ever for a major tournament win; and Jordan Spieth is being Jordan Spieth. The 2017 season looks bright for the Tour’s “young guns.”

I think these names speak for themselves. All of these young guns are on the hunt for individual glory in professional golf and they all have the game in their bag to get it. Some are already established in the winning column while others are standing on the edge of the winner’s circle.  Nevertheless, in every case raw talent is present.

Let’s take a closer look at these six outstanding young guns on the PGA Tour.

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Sep 10, 2016; Carmel, IN, USA; Jordan Spieth. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Spieth

If the fiery play of Jordan Spieth doesn’t tell you anything, then let his Green Jacket, U.S. Open trophy and 8 PGA Tour victories do the talking. At 23 years old, Spieth has already set the bar high, engraving his name into the history books.

Spieth attended Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas, Texas (where he was born and raised), then took his talents down the road to the University of Texas. After being named to the all-big 12 team, earning big 12 freshman and player of the year, and first-team all American, the Longhorn was ready to make his move. Spieth turned pro after a year and a half of college golf.

Spieth quickly dominated professional golf and became one of the most talked about athletes in the world. Spieth was an immediate impact on Tour making his name well-known, as he reeled in the 2013 “PGA Tour Rookie of the Year” honors. The list can be endless for Spieth’s accolades, still only at the dawn of his career. One may wonder how much more will Spieth dominate this game?

July 14th, 2013 marked Jordan’s first ever PGA Tour win at the John Deere Classic, just two weeks before his 20th birthday, making him the fourth youngest PGA Tour winner. It wasn’t an easy victory. Spieth had to battle it out in a three-way playoff between Zach Johnson and David Hearn, showing his resilience and strong mentality, which is so important if one wants to succeed in this game. His first year of success continued when Fred Couples, captain for USA in Presidents Cup, tapped Spieth for the team.

Spieth’s career has kept rolling on since, showing no sign of stopping his reign anytime soon. Winning the 2015 Masters, 2015 U.S. Open, runner-up finisher in the 2015 PGA Championship and tying 4th in the 2015 Open Championship, makes the mind wonder how many majors will have Spieth put in his back pocket when all said and done.

2015 was an incredible year for the Longhorn, flirting with history after winning the first two majors in search for the illusive 4 major sweep. Not going to lie, he had me convinced he would collect all four. Did I mention Spieth was looking down at everybody from the #1 spot in the world golf rankings when he crowned himself FedEx champion? Yeah people, he is just that good.

Jordan is one of those names you see in the field and say to yourself “we will see him come Sunday” every time. Spieth has yet to win in 2017, although he did collect two third-place finishes on the islands of Hawaii. But let’s remember we have a full schedule ahead of us and you’d best believe Spieth’s name will be atop.

The only thing Jordan Spieth has to worry about is his balding.

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Jan 12, 2017; Honolulu, HI, USA; PGA golfer Justin Thomas. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Thomas

“JT” is one of the hottest golfers on the planet as of right now, the 23 year old has had a scorching start to 2017. Justin Thomas did a full sweep in Hawaii, claiming victories in the SBS Tournament of Champions and Sony Open in Hawaii and showing he is a force to be reckoned with on the PGA Tour.

The University of Alabama graduate sits ranked 8th in the world golf rankings, 1st in the FedEx Cup standings and has a total of 4 career PGA Tour wins as of today. Roll Tide!

Justin Thomas’ sizzling start to 2017 raises many eyebrow’s as regards to when this years majors roll around. Thomas is playing like a major champion and it is only a matter of time before he becomes one.

Watching Thomas’ early season play in 2017 has made me realize that the only one who can beat Justin Thomas . . . well is Justin Thomas. After flag hunting on the islands of Hawaii, “JT” shows no mercy with his incredible ball striking leading to an overwhelming amount of birdies. It’s a bad day to be a flag pin when “JT’s” iron game is dialed in. If Thomas keeps the train rolling, there is no stopping this golfing machine.

As far as Majors go, Thomas hasn’t had the best of finishes. His best finish coming in the 2015 PGA Championship when he finished tied for 18th. In 2016, Thomas played in the Masters (T-39th), U.S. Open (T-32nd), Open Championship (T-53rd) and PGA Championship (T-66th). Let not those numbers fool you. Thomas is out for hardware this season and he has already shown it in his performance.

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Sep 24, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Daniel Berger at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Berger

Daniel Berger’s first and only win on the PGA Tour came on June 12th, 2016 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Berger is on a mad-hunt for his second career win, totaling 13 top 10’s in 63 events played in his career. Even though Berger isn’t winning, he is still in the mix with his name on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Berger spent his college career in the Sunshine State, posting impressive numbers at Florida State University. Berger finished tied for 2nd at the 2013 NCAA Championships, later he turned pro at the age of 20.

Berger won “Rookie of the Year” in 2015, just like Spieth in 2013, and then went on to have a successful 2015 season. Berger finished 2nd in the Honda Classic when he lost in a playoff to Padraig Harrington. At the end of the 2015 season, Berger ranked 29th in the official world golf rankings. He showed consistency throughout 2015 when he made 17 out of 31 cuts.

Daniel continues to pop up in the mix, especially in last years Masters tournament when he cracked the top 10 on the leaderboard. Could this be Berger’s year? Only time will tell.

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October 18, 2015; Napa, CA, USA; Emiliano Grillo hoists the trophy during the final round of the Frys.com Open. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Emiliano Grillo

The 24-year old Argentinian is turning heads as his name appears on PGA Tour leaderboards. Emiliano Grillo’s first career win came at the 2015 Frys.com Open when he shot -15 par to take the victory. Since then the Argentine has had impressive outings in various major championships, 2016 Masters (T-17th), 2016 U.S. Open (T-54th), Open Championship (T-12th) and PGA Championship (T-13th).

The thing that stands out to me about Emiliano Grillo is his ability to make the cuts during majors. He has yet to miss a cut in any major, which gives him a massive opportunity to build skill and experience in the high-pressure environment of major contests.

Just like almost every golfer in this article, Grillo won PGA Tour “Rookie of the Year” honors in 2016. After grinding out a few years on the Web.com Tour, Grillo was finally ready to step into the top level.

Grillo has played in 38 career events on the PGA Tour, securing 6 top 10’s and 1 win.

Look for the name Emiliano Grillo. He’s going to sneak up on you as you find yourself watching him in the final group on Sunday.

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Jun 6, 2015; Dublin, OH, USA; Patrick Rodgers during the third round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Rodgers

Patrick Rodgers was in the weekend mix at the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open, as he made the final grouping on Sunday to only shoot an even par round and drop to 9th place. Rodgers and Ollie Schniederjans are the only ones on this list to not have a professional win to their names.

Rodgers however has 7 top 10 finishes in 62 events played, toying with his first taste at victory. His first Sunday triumph is only a matter of time.

Rodgers picked up some meaningful awards at Stanford University, earning the Ben Hogan Award, which is the best college player voted by the Golf Coaches Association of America. Notably, Rodgers tied Stanford Alum Tiger Wood’s record of 11 wins at Stanford.

Look for Mr. Rodgers to collect his first career win this season. His name has already popped up more than once already in 2017.

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Aug 1, 2015; Gainesville, VA, USA; Ollie Schniederjans at the Quicken Loans National golf tournament at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Ollie Schniederjans

Ollie Schniederjans hasn’t left a mark in the win column yet, but he definitely is a legend in the name game. With a name like Ollie Schniederjans, there is no limit to what can be achieved by this man. Without a doubt, Ollie takes the trophy for best name.

Now let’s talk golf, Ollie was a stud when it came to collegiate golf. His tenure at Georgia Tech lasted a full four years, raking in a fistful of accolades and awards. Those awards included, reaching #1 in the amateur golf rankings, two-time ACC player of the year, all-American team honors and played for the U.S. Palmer Cup team in 2014 and 2015.

Ollie made a fierce run last week at the Farmers Insurance Open, shooting -8 par and finishing in 9th place. Now starting his third year on the PGA Tour, Scjhniederjans brings an immense amount of collegiate success to his pro career. Keep him on your radar. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ollie will be hoisting a trophy soon.

Maybe he needs to wear a hat first. Sorry Ollie that’s OCD talking.

Who are you watching this season? Let me know which of the younger players on the PGA Tour have captured your attention.

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