The future of Australian golf is looking bright after the recent emergence of a few young stars. With neither Jason Day or Adam Scott having won on tour in nineteen months, Marc Leishman has temporarily filled that void on the PGA Tour with a pair of wins this season. That being said, it won’t be long before the next crop of Australians cement their names on the big stage, with promising signs showing already.
Over the weekend, Cameron Smith (24 years old) won the Australian PGA Championship in his native state of Queensland. Smith emerged victorious from a sudden death playoff with New South Welshman Jordan Zunic (25). The previous week, Cameron Davis (22) won the Australian Open on the back of a final-round 64, unexpectedly leaving world no. 12 Jason Day in his wake. Lucas Herbert (21) played in the final pairing with Day, ultimately finishing T6 but throwing his name in the mix too. Travis Smyth (22) won this year’s Northern Territory PGA as an amateur, capping off an illustrious career in the unpaid ranks, before making the jump immediately after the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. He has enjoyed a successful start to his professional career, with three top-20 finishes in as many weeks down under. Brett Coletta (21) also won a professional event as an amateur, doing so at the 2016 Isuzu Queensland Open. He received three invites to PGA Tour events this year, with a best finish of T25 at the Memorial Tournament.
We can’t forget West Australian Curtis Luck (21) who made the cut at The Masters as an amateur, an exemption he received from an impressive victory at the previous year’s US Amateur Championship. He made ten PGA Tour starts this year, with his highlight being a tie for 5th at the Quicken Loans National. His fellow Sandgroper, Min Woo Lee (19) can’t be far away either. The younger brother of LPGA sensation Minjee Lee is by no means in the shadow of his big sister, making his own mark in the amateur and professional world. Lee sits comfortably at the top of the Golf Australia Men’s Rankings, and enjoyed success in his 2017 campaign which saw him make the quarter finals at the prestigious Western Amateur, finish 2nd at the Sahalee Players Championship, and runner up at the Australian Amateur Championship, funnily enough to Matias Sanchez (also 19), who took showed poise beyond his years to collect low amateur honours at the Australian Open last week.
If recent success is anything to go by, Australian golf is on the cusp of its next golden era. The upcoming generation is rising to join Day, Scott and Leishman at the pinnacle of the game. It would not be surprising to see a plethora of Australian talent dominating the world in years to come. This is a testament to all those involved with the Golf Australia High Performance program. They have a vision to grow the next generation of major champions, and clearly their investment in the future is beginning to pay off in a big way.
Photo Credit: NT News