American golf is in an interesting place right now. The sun is setting (and will be for a while) on the careers of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Several young golfers are jockeying for position to take their spots as the perennial Nos. 1 and 2 golfers in the US.
Simpson is definitely part of that conversation but probably not at the forefront of it.
You can throw out guys like Jason Dufner (he's almost older than Tiger!) and Matt Kuchar (ditto). I want to focus on the under-30 guys. The guys who have a really long landing strip for the remainder of their time on the PGA Tour.
To my surprise there were actually 21 Americans under the age of 30 on the Official World Golf Ranking top 100 list.
Here's my list of the 10 best, ranked.
1. Dustin Johnson (29): Johnson has as many wins (nine) as Nos. 2 and 3 on this list combined. Throw in his six top 10s at the majors and he's an easy No. 1.
2. Webb Simpson (28): One of only two golfers on this list with a major in hand (Keegan Bradley is the other). With his win in Vegas on Sunday he pulled ahead of Bradley in the wins department (four to three). Since both have a major, I have to give Simpson the edge.
3. Keegan Bradley (27): I think when we look back at this list in 30 years (if the Internet still exists) that either Bradley or Jordan Spieth will have the most accomplished career.
4. Jordan Spieth (20): We can argue about whether or not he has accomplished more than Fowler (probably not) all day but he's certainly a better golfer right now. His career arc at age 20 is Tiger-esque.
5. Rickie Fowler (24): I want to say that his career has been disappointing to this point but then I remember that he's just 24 (he has been on tour for four years!). I think the difficult part with Fowler is that his expectations were so high. Example: If Spieth has just one win four years from now, that's going to be pretty disappointing, isn't it?
Fowler represents the line between the stars on this list and everybody else.
6. Billy Horschel (26): 2013 was his breakout year with one win and a No. 13 finish on the money list. He has a chance to jump Fowler and maybe Spieth in 2014 with another big win.
7. Gary Woodland (29): It's weird to rank a guy who won on tour this year so low but he won the Reno-Tahoe Open while the big guns played Bridgestone. He has two wins under his belt and made it to the Tour Championship. He only played one major (PGA Championship) and finished 74th. I think he's a shade below Horschel.
9. Roberto Castro (28): Probably the most unheralded guy on this list. He finished T12 at the PGA Championship and second to Bill Haas at the AT&T National. Also scored a top 30 on the money list and made it to the Tour Championship. A name you might not know but should probably get familiar with.
10. Russell Henley (24): Struggled a little after his win early in Hawaii. Only had two other top 10s and his best major finish was 73rd at the British Open.