Who will be golf’s next legend?
Next golf legend, Brooks Koepka, golf majors

Who will be golf’s next legend?

In recent years we have seen golf’s top prizes – the four majors – shared out among a wide variety of players.

Tiger Woods’ 15th major win in the 2019 Masters Tournament was a rare victory by one of the game’s all-time greats, with six of the subsequent 10 majors going to first-time winners.

We wanted to predict who could be the next golf legend to rise above the rest of the pack and dominate the sport – and identifying potential serial major winners is perhaps the most obvious way to do that.

To begin with, let us set the bar for golfing greatness. There have been 19 players in the sport’s long history who have won at least five majors in their careers, which is a fairly exclusive club, so we will try to predict who will be the 20th.

What does the average major winner look like?

The relatively low physical demands of golf compared to other sports means that golfers’ professional careers last longer than those of other athletes.

Phil Mickelson demonstrated this when he triumphed in the 2021 PGA Championship at the age of 50, becoming the oldest major champion to date.

However, Mickelson is a rare exception. Since the turn of the century, two-thirds of major winners have been younger than 35 at the time of their victory, with almost half still in their twenties.

Of the 87 trophies lifted in this period, only seven were in the hands of a player who had already turned 40; four fewer than the number secured by those under 25.

Past experience does count for something in our search for the next golf legend though, with almost two thirds of Masters Tournament winners since 2000 having already finished in the top five in the competition earlier in their careers.

Meanwhile, only one of the 18 Open Championships in the same interval was won by someone who had never finished in the top 10 before.

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Who could be the next player to win five majors?

We’ve identified nine players who meet two key criteria: having already won at least one major and still being young enough that they won’t turn 35 before the end of 2022.

The former proves that they are capable of handling a big tournament and the latter that they have enough time to rack up more wins at this level.

Two active golfers immediately jump to the top of the list, as they have each already won four majors.

Brooks Koepka won back-to-back US Opens in 2017 and 2018, with successive PGA Championships following in 2018 and 2019.

Koepka has also been the standout performer in recent majors. Across the last three stagings of each – 12 tournaments in total – he has finished among the top 10 on eight occasions, with six of these in the top five.

The other man with four to his name is Rory McIlroy, although the Northern Irish star hasn’t lifted a major trophy since his PGA Championship triumph back in 2014.

However, McIlroy is only a year older than Koepka – almost exactly in fact, given that their birthdays are one day apart – so both have a similar amount of time left on the clock.

Jordan Spieth has one fewer major to his name but is over three years younger, so will have plenty of opportunities to match the pace of his more experienced rivals.

An even younger contender to be the next golf legend is Collin Morikawa, who has exploded onto the scene with two major wins since turning professional in 2019.

The American finished the 2021 PGA Tour at the top of the FedEx Cup standings, with Spieth second, and won’t turn 25 until just before the first major of 2022.

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