In recent years the start of the pro season has also marked the start of the search for Tour up-and-comers who might take on Tiger Woods. Here, in descending order, are seven 25-and-unders who we think could someday hang with the world's best player. (Buyer beware: By age 25 Tiger had already won 15 Tour events.)
7. COLT KNOST, 22: After graduating from SMU last spring, the 2007 Conference USA player of the year won the U.S. Publinks and the U.S. Amateur before turning pro. He finished 49th in his first Tour start, the Texas Open, but failed at Q school and is now on the Nationwide.
6. ALEJANDRO CANIZARES, 25: A four-time All-America at Arizona State and the son of seven-time European tour winner Jose Maria, Canizares turned pro in '06 and won (Russian Open) in only his third start on the Euro tour. He was 69th on the Euro money list in '07.
5. RYAN MOORE, 24: One of the most decorated amateurs in history as a champion at the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Publinks, NCAA, Western Amateur and Sahalee Players in '04, he's been injured (left hand) and streaky (20 top 25s but 26 MCs in 69 starts) as a pro.
February 4, 2008
4. KEVIN NA, 24: Na dropped out of high school after his junior year to turn pro and played the Asian tour in '02, finishing fourth in earnings. He made it through Q school in '03 and has kept his card since. A terrific short game (third in both scrambling and putts per round in '07) bodes well.
3. NICK FLANAGAN, 23: Slight (145 pounds) but long (298.6 yards per drive in '07) and straight (67% fairways hit), the '03 U.S. Amateur champ from Australia won three Nationwide events last year to earn a so-called battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour.
2. ANTHONY KIM, 22: Kim turned pro in '06 and tied for second in his Tour debut (Texas Open). Last year he had four top 10s and was 43rd in the FedEx Cup standings. Biggest assests: textbook swing, abundant self-confidence and developing relationship with Woods's mentor Mark O'Meara.
1. JASON DAY, 20: His goal: "Become the Number 1 golfer in the world." In '07 he became the youngest winner of a Tour-sanctioned event (Legend Financial Group Classic), and had six other top 10s, finishing fifth in Nationwide earnings. Key stats: sixth in driving (306.8 yards) and ninth in putting.