There is no shortage of potentially exciting storylines for the New Year but, in no particular order, here are a few that will have my attention as 2018 gets underway.
Georgia Hall, Angel Yin and Hannah Green (with special mention to Rebecca Artis):
There’s plenty of exciting young talent at the top of women’s golf and you can add these three names to the list for 2018.
Angel Yin, a long-bombing teenager of Chinese/American heritage, might be the most exciting prospect in the women’s game in years while both Hall and Green are proven performers about to make their full-time debut on the world’s biggest stage.
Yin’s excitement comes from combining the power of Lexi Thompson with the charisma of Nancy Lopez, the Californian the real deal both on and off the course.
She was a revelation as a captain’s pick at the Solheim Cup and having now claimed her first title as a professional, at the Dubai Ladies Classic two weeks ago, will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.
Georgia Hall, too, made her mark at the Solheim Cup though close observers of the game will have also noted her performance at the Women’s British Open in July.
Hall has also graced these shores, winning the 2016 Victorian Open, and now in possession of a card to play in America full time seems a certainty to join the fray at the top of the women’s rankings.
At 21 she is among the more senior members of the youth movement but her experience playing the LET the past two years should hold her in good stead.
While both Hall and Yin had bigger stages to perform on in 2017 the play of Hannah Green might have been the most impressive of the three.
The 20-year-old West Australian (pictured above) committed to a full year on the secondary Symetra Tour, despite having conditional status on the main LPGA Tour, and it was a decision that paid big dividends.
Green won three tournaments on the secondary circuit and also finished second on the money list to guarantee full access to the ‘Big Show’ in 2018, a 12-month education that appears to have prepared her to step up to the next level.
Green isn’t the only Australian LPGA rookie in 2018 though, with Artis earning a special mention for winning her card at the recent Q-School.
It was the fifth time the likeable Artis had endured the end of year torture chamber and having finally survived we wish her all the best for a successful 2018.
Xander Schauffele, Curtis Luck and Tiger Woods (honourable mention Min Woo Lee):
If he remains healthy there is no question Tiger Woods will dominate coverage of the game in 2018 and for that reason he can’t be left off this list.
But while Woods is the most compelling story not only in golf but in all of sport, there are some intriguing plot lines also playing out in his shadow.
It would be wrong to say Xander Schauffele’s Rookie of the Year performance in 2017 went completely under the radar though fair to say it didn’t attract quite the attention it deserved.
However, it was his play at the season-ending Tour Championship, reserved for the top 30 earners of the season, that impressed the most.
Schauffele became the first rookie ever to capture the title and while that achievement was somewhat overshadowed by Justin Thomas winning the FedEx Cup, it speaks volumes of the Californian’s potential in 2018.
From an Australian perspective the fortunes of Curtis Luck will be keenly followed in 2018 as the West Australian tries to play his way to the PGA Tour.
A finish in the top 25 money earners at season’s end would achieve that goal but you can bet Luck has his sights set higher than that.
A player who wins three times on the secondary Tour in any given season earns immediate promotion to the main Tour and that is what Luck will almost undoubtedly be looking to do.
He has already proved he has the game to mix it on the world’s premier circuit and now he just has to get there. A 2019 PGA Tour without Curtis Luck as a member seems a highly unlikely proposition.
Australia’s other emerging international prospect is Luck’s fellow West Australian, Min Woo Lee.
There is little left for Lee to achieve in the amateur ranks and irrespective of whether he turns professional in the new year he will once again be a player to watch in 2018.
He brings a flair and excitement to the course which makes him stand out and in a game that is ultimately about entertainment, it’s hard not to see Lee being a star of the future.
After a 2017 that was rich in both highs and lows, golf looks set for another exciting ride in 2018 and you’d better buckle up because it all gets underway in Hawaii in just 15 days.
PLAYER PROFILE - ANGEL YIN:
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