While the big four of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day look set to dominate the golfing world for the next decade, there are a number of others to watch out for this year who could easily muscle in on the action.
The ‘new kid on the block’ is 23-year-old US ace Justin Thomas, who has been a professional since 2013 but blossomed into a world-class operator this year.
He won his first PGA Tour event in late 2015, taking the CIMB Classic in Malaysia by one shot from Adam Scott and then repeated the feat the following year.
That was in October 2016 and the Kentucky-born starlet has already added two more titles to his CV in 2017.
Kicking off proceedings by claiming the restricted-field Tournament of Champions on Maui, Thomas then switched Hawaiian islands to Honolulu for a seven-stroke success over Justin Rose of England the following week.
Winning once on the PGA Tour is tough but to do it back-to-back is almost unheard of – unless you happen to be Tiger Woods.
Now ranked seventh in the world, the former Walker Cup ace can be backed at 25/1 to win next month’s Masters. With such outside odds it’s probably better to check out this SBAT golf betting guide before deciding on who to side with at Augusta.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama has been runner-up to Thomas in two of his triumphs but has also got four PGA Tour titles of his own in the bag.
Now ranked fourth in the standings, the 25-year-old has been tipped as a major winner in waiting and it would surprise nobody to see him challenge at the Masters (16/1).
The Far East ace won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in both 2016 and 2017, adding the WGC-HSBC Champions for good measure in October last year, and will surely be prominent in the big events throughout the year.
Having cut his teeth on the Japan Golf Tour, he switched to America in 2014 while continuing to play on his home tour whenever possible.
Eight wins in Japan proves how dominant he has been while he already has five top-10 finishes in the majors.
The third young gun to watch out for in 2017 is England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick who, at 30 in the world, is now playing in all the big events.
The 22-year-old already has one Ryder Cup to his name at Hazeltine last year and will play in many more, with a solid all-round game and temperament to match.
The Sheffield man’s maiden European Tour success came at the 2015 British Masters while he won the 2016 Nordea Masters in Sweden and capped a fine year by taking the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
He secured a share of seventh at last year’s Masters and is priced at around 80/1 to take Augusta honours this time around.
Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur Championship in 2013 and has shown no fear in squaring off with global superstars on both sides of the Atlantic, and may be about to take his game to an even higher level in 2017.