When Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff burst onto the PGA Tour scene in 2019 the sky seemed the limit.
It looked inevitable that this star trio would be battling each other at the summit of leaderboards for years to come. But it hasn’t panned out that way, these future stars have rather drifted back into the pack or in Wolff’s case, disappeared altogether.
Morikawa made the big leap first. A sensational iron player who looked imperious under pressure, he quickly swooped in to claim a pair of major championships (2020 PGA Championship, 2021 Open Championship) in eleven months – very much on brand for players winning majors in bunches.
Since then it has all fizzled out for the American and his gleaming, sparkling smile has turned into a frustrated frown over the last two years.
Since winning the Open Championship two years ago, Morikawa has narrowly missed out on becoming world number one, falling as far as 20th in the world in that time.
Such has been his fall (of sorts) he has been lapped as the hot shot American by Scottie Scheffler who has won the Masters, ascended to world number one and won several tournaments along the way. Had it not been for a poor putting performance all year, who knows what Scheffler would have won.
Morikawa set an underwhelming tone for his season in Kapalua in January when he blew six-shot lead with some worrying short game errors before losing a playoff in Detroit.
Looking at the stats, they are still impressive for Morikawa who ranks 11th in strokes gained total on the PGA TOUR – his best scoring to date but it hasn’t yielded the results, or the trophies.
Two years without a win is far too long for a player of his quality, but such is the depth of the PGA TOUR, he isn’t alone in feeling shortchanged in terms of silverware.
The depth not just on the PGA TOUR, but in the world of golf is astounding, after all, Rory McIlroy hasn’t won a major championship since 2014 but has won three FedEx Cup titles and had multiple stints as world number one since.
Justin Thomas, a major champion for the second time in 2022 has endured a torrid, winless season while Tommy Fleetwood, a six-time winner on the DP World Tour and may well win again in Europe before the season is out, is yet to cross the finish line Stateside in 125 attempts despite racking up over $20 million – the first player to do so without winning.
Take serial bridesmaid Xander Schauffele as another example. Still sixth in the world due to his remarkable consistency – no missed cuts all season.
The American has never been lower than 8th in strokes gained total on the PGA TOUR, yet he has never looked likely in the majors and has endured what he describes as a ‘weird year.’
A winless year for Schauffele, a winless year for Patrick Cantlay who seems to be forever stuck at world number four, good, bad or indifferent performances.
Take the influx of youngsters coming to the PGA TOUR straight out of university and the talent pool only seems to be getting deeper and deeper.
Swedish hot shot Ludvig Aberg has been tipped for stardom but such is the depth he is competing with are we being too presumptuous to assume he will crack the winners’ enclosure instantly?
Even Ireland’s own Shane Lowry has won massive events worldwide including the 2019 Open Championship and a World Golf Championship in 2015 but a stand alone win on the PGA TOUR continues to elude him.