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Golf is a sport constructed on custom and a deep reverence for the previous. However the recreation’s future is all the time fluid. For the reason that period of Tiger Woods’ dominance ended, first-time main winners have flourished. In each single yr however one because the yr 2000, at the least certainly one of golf’s 4 majors featured a first-time winner, most not too long ago Wyndham Clark on the 2023 U.S. Open in June.
With golf’s expertise stage deeper and broader than ever earlier than, it’s solely a matter of time earlier than we see one other first-time main winner. Right here, in alphabetical order, are 10 of the likeliest candidates to hoist their first main trophy quickly, whether or not at Royal Liverpool in July or in 2024.
Sam Bennett: The reigning U.S. Novice champion performed this yr’s Masters on an exemption, and proceeded to roll up a full sleeve of “first newbie since” marks. He was the primary newbie since 2003 to be within the prime three heading into the weekend since 2003, the primary newbie to be inside the highest 10 heading into Sunday since 1964, and ended up carding one of the best end (T16) by an newbie since 2005. In his first main as a professional, the 2023 U.S. Open, he completed in a tie for forty third. The previous Texas A&M Aggie seems set for a shiny future.
Tony Finau: Now that he’s discovered how one can win tournaments, majors are the subsequent rung on the ladder. He’s cooled off a bit because the 2018-21 period, when he carded at the least two prime 10s annually. However he’s all the time a fan favourite, and because of his prominence in Netflix’s “Full Swing,” he’s a TV star, too. He stays a menace at each course, even when he’s one of many Tour’s friendliest guys.
Tommy Fleetwood: He owns two of one of the best Sunday rounds in main championship historical past — a pair of 63s, most not too long ago this month on the U.S. Open — and has precisely zero majors to indicate for it. He’s knocked on the door, exhausting — he has solo second-place finishes in each the U.S. Open and the Open Championship — and his time is now.
Rickie Fowler: Just some weeks in the past, he wouldn’t have been anyplace close to this listing, consigned to the best-to-never-win class together with gamers like Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker. However Fowler has loved a resurgence of late, and his sterling efficiency on the U.S. Open means that the onetime neon-clad hero of hundreds of thousands may nonetheless have one thing left to say.
Max Homa: Golf’s Everyman has changed into a dependable PGA Tour skilled, profitable six occasions on the PGA Tour already. He wins the interview room each main, however hasn’t but put all of it collectively on the massive stage; his finest efficiency is a tie for thirteenth finally yr’s PGA Championship. But when he can channel his limitless constructive power for 4 days at a significant, look out.
Sungjae Im: The 2018-19 PGA Tour Rookie of the 12 months, Im has flourished on the Masters, the place he has two top-10 finishes up to now 4 years. He hasn’t fared as effectively on the different three majors, however his creativity and resilience have led him to victory everywhere in the world, and it’s solely a matter of time earlier than he begins threatening at extra majors.
Viktor Hovland: The most effective breakthrough wager on the board, the perpetually smiling Hovland is so near main victory he can style it. Previous to ending in solo nineteenth place on the U.S. Open, he loved a three-major run ending no worse than T7. He couldn’t maintain tempo with Brooks Koepka within the closing spherical of this yr’s PGA Championship, however these sorts of losses could make a participant stronger and extra ready for the subsequent tense Sunday, each time that comes. With Hovland, it ought to come very quickly.
Tom Kim: At simply 20 years previous, he’s so new to professional golf that he’s performed the Masters and The Open Championship just one time apiece. Even so, he’s already claimed two PGA Tour wins and established himself as certainly one of golf’s most partaking, pleasurable gamers. He’s coming off his finest end at a significant, a tie for eighth on the U.S. Open. With many extra years forward, he’s received loads of time to learn to dangle in all the best way to the ultimate grouping on Sunday.
Xander Schauffele: Golf’s reigning Olympic gold medalist is racking up the shut finishes at majors. Whereas he’s struggled at The Open Championship, he has 11 prime 10s in 25 majors, together with second-place finishes at each the Masters and The Open. He’s getting shut, so shut, and as soon as he places every little thing collectively on a Sunday, many majors might move his method.
Will Zalatoris: There’s some measure of honor in ending second at majors — each Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson have carried out it many occasions over — but it surely helps if you happen to truly win just a few apart from. Zalatoris is a few missed putts from having at the least two majors, having completed no decrease than a tie for second at three totally different ones. Accidents have saved him within the clubhouse for all of 2023, however the best way he performed in 2022 — together with a T6, 2, T2 run within the yr’s first three majors — signaled that it is a main expertise simply ready for a significant second.