Top 10 Child Golf Prodigies of All-time
golffan77Using only their junior golf resumes and putting little emphasis on their adult accomplishments as a golfer. A few of the prodigies are yet to reach adulthood but already have impressive accomplishments. Any golfers that had not played past the age of seven were not considered. I realize that Jack Nicklaus was omitted and almost put him on, but he didn't become really good until his teenage years and really was a teenage prodigy and never a child prodigy. Just remember, on some level everything is debatable, this is one reason these lists are so intriguing.
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The Top Ten
golffan77More comments about Joshua Martin - North Carolina, USA
No prodigy has been in the spotlight as early as young Eldrick. At the age of 2 he was regularly appearing on national television for his talent at striking a golf ball. He won the first of his 5 Junior World titles at the age of 8. He won well over 200 junior tournaments and at 11 he went the entire year undefeated (36-0).
No one on this list has had a year like that. Tiger followed this with epic play throughout his teenage years including 3 consecutive USGA Junior titles. This 3-peat will never be broken and probably never equaled. His pre-teen record can be debated against the aforementioned Martin, Liu and Abrams. What cannot be debated is his overall resume from junior golf to college golf to his professional golf. This resume is the game's most complete and covers nearly 30 years of greatness. This is why he may not be the greatest child prodigy, and that is up for debate, but he is the greatest golfer in the history of the game we call golf.
I hate the "next Tiger" moniker as much as the next writer, but this guy may be just that. He won 4 US Kids World Titles and shot 59 at a major regional tournament by the time he was 12. He became the youngest ever winner, at 14, of the USGA junior in 2010. He is currently ranked in the top five junior boys AJGA rankings. Typically 17 and 18 year olds occupy this elite group. A PGA Tour event will invite him soon if they haven't already. Maturity and competitive fire are said to be in abundance with this rising phenom. Sound familiar?
golffan77More comments about Stephen Abrams - North Carolina, USA
Some people may argue with putting her first, but the facts are in for me. She played tennis very early as well but preferred golf by the age of 7. She was big for her age from the start and she dominated the girls her age to the point of embarrassment. At the age of ten she qualified for the U. S. Women's Amateur Public Links, at twelve she won the Hawaii State Women's Open by 13 shots, at 13 she shot 66 in the third round of the LPGA Kraft Nabisco and was in the final group on Sunday. That same year she made the cut in the U. S. Women's Open while also winning the Public Links. At 14, she played against the men at the PGA tour's Sony Open, shooting an amazing 68 from the mens tees. Michelle accomplished things no junior player, boy or girl ever has. She basically skipped the junior ranks and went straight to the adult amateurs and professionals of both genders. She was fearless and had many believing she could challenge the men on the PGA tour someday. She has since turned pro and has won just once in three years on the LPGA, but she is a fixture in the World's Top Ten and the biggest name on the women's tour. When she fully matures she should dominate. She certainly dominated from the junior ranks in a way no golfer male or female ever has.
This girl dominated every tournament she played in as a 10/under player, The titles are numerous and many were multiple stroke affairs. At 12 she became the youngest to qualify for the U. S. Women;s Open.
After the Open, she played at and won at the highest levels of women's amateur and junior golf. At 15 she turned pro and placed 2nd at one of her first pro events, the Evian Masters. This girl is the real deal and has proven she belongs on the LPGA Tour with the world's best. She and Michelle Wie will make great rivals over the next two decades. iIchelle Wie is the best girls' prodigy ever but she is a strong second.
The first golf Prodigy of any consequence. Young Bobby learned the game as a toddler and won his first title at six. By the age of 14 he made it to the third round of the U. S. Amateur Championship which was one of golf's 4 major tournaments back then. He won the Georgia State Amateur At 14, shocking sportswriters and golf fans of the day. Had Bobby played the same junior golf system we have today with all the age-appropriate tournaments we have now, he would have dominated almost every event. He didn't have that opportunity though and often played against much older juniors and adults well before he was physically mature enough to make it a fair game. Nonetheless, he still managed to win several. One thing is for certain though, from the age of 14 on up, he became the greatest player anyone had ever seen.
Phil only won 1 World Junior title growing up but I was assured by those who saw him play that he was Mozart on the fairways, pure genius. They insist that even as a young boy he would pull off shots that pros could not. He did win a lot of tournaments, but he wasn't dominant nationally and lost tournaments against lesser competition. Many say his true passion was for practice and would rather do that than play in tournaments. His early play was undisciplined and almost experimental in nature. He still won tournaments in spite of this though and became more disciplined in his teenage years. Of course some would argue he still plays undisciplined golf even today. He went on to dominate college golf and is probably one of the top 15 players of all-time.
His story seems destined to be a cautionary tale of too much to soon. Ty was winning junior tournaments at the age of 4 and was a student at the Leadbetter Academy by the age of 10. He qualified for the PGA Tour's Honda Classic at 16 and made the cut. For an encore, at only 17, he did the impossible. Ty qualified for the PGA Tour as an exempt member. He made it through the notoriously difficult Tour Q-school before he graduated high school. Once on tour he showed flashes that he belonged while also showing a lack of maturity and dedication. He couldn't keep his tour card and hasn't been on the PGA tour since 2003. Today he is stuck on the mini-tours and struggling at that level. He's only in his mid-20's but his time may have come and gone already. One wonders if college golf could have allowed him to mature his mind and his game at a better pace than professional golf did.
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This wunderkind is definitely the greatest cross-handed prodigy ever. Young Bill won the Oklahoma/Texas junior in the 11/under category at just seven. His grip gave him prodigious length at a young age and he would often win national tournaments by wide margins as a pre-teen. Couple his length with pro-like
putting and he became almost unbeatable. David Leadbetter refused to change his grip because he hit the ball so great cross-handed. His game stalled as he reached his teenage years due to burnout and the yips but he still earned a scholarship to LSU. He never did change his grip but it was the yips that finally proved his downfall. He never attempted pro golf after college and became a lawyer instead. He routinely beat the likes of Phil Mickelson, David Duval, and Justin Leonard in his tween years but couldn't sustain that ability through adulthood.
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Updated Wednesday, July 30, 2014