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Who will be golf's new stars in 2011?

By Will Tidey, for CNN
  • Teenager Jessica Korda has set her sights on being the No. 1 player in the world
  • Peter Uihlein celebrated his 21st birthday with victory at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship
  • Elliot and Lloyd Saltman became the first brothers to graduate from the same Q-School
  • Fifteen-year-old Alexis Thompson has already won over $300,000 on the LPGA Tour

(CNN) -- Who will be the new Matteo Manassero next year -- and which young golfers will struggle to build on their undoubted talent, as the highly-rated Danny Lee did in 2010?

Teenager Manassero burst onto the professional golf scene this year as the youngest winner on the European Tour and the youngest player to make the halfway cut at The Masters.

The 17-year-old Italian delivered on the promise he showed in winning the British Amateur Championship aged 16, rising to No. 1 in the unpaid ranks and finishing top non-professional at the 2009 British Open.

He was rewarded with the European Tour's Rookie of the Year award, and in 2011 will be looking to establish himself alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy, Anthony Kim, Ryo Ishikawa and Rickie Fowler -- flag bearers of golf's next generation who have found the consistency to climb inside the world's top 50.

Lee was another from whom big things were expected in 2010. In 2008 as an 18-year-old he claimed Tiger Woods' record as the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship , and when he won a European Tour event in 2009 he was billed by British newspaper the Daily Telegraph as the American's natural successor to the role of world No. 1.

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But the South Korea-born New Zealander's meteoric rise stalled in a disappointing season that saw him finish 159th on the European Tour's money list and fail to achieve a single top-20 finish, and failed to win a U.S. PGA Tour card through qualifying school.

Lee's struggles in 2010 demonstrated how difficult the transition to the professional ranks can be -- and how hard it is to predict the career trajectory of golf's brightest young stars.

With that disclaimer in place, CNN highlights golf's potential breakthrough stars of 2011, looking at the top-10 young men and women from the amateur and professional ranks.


Michael Thompson (United States)

The 25-year-old Thompson secured his PGA Tour card in some style, eagling the penultimate hole at qualifying school to book his spot next season.

"I wasn't quite expecting this," he told The Golf Channel after his final round.

Alexis Thompson is going to be a global icon of women's golf
--Mike Scanlan, LPGA Tour
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"I was gearing my mind up to getting on the Nationwide Tour. I've always been a player to take slow steady steps ... but man, I can't wait for next year. It's been my dream since I was seven years old to play on the PGA Tour."

The two-time Arizona State High School Player of the Year (2002, 2003) was a finalist at the 2007 U.S. Amateur Championships and finished leading amateur at the 2008 U.S. Open.

In 2010 he was the leading money winner on the developmental Hooters Tour, where he won once and collected six top-10 finishes in total.

Bio Kim (South Korea)

Kim became the youngest winner on the Korean Tour when he triumphed at the Johnnie Walker Open in August.

He also finished the season in 12th place on the OneAsia Tour Order of Merit, having played just four qualifying events.

The 20-year-old earned his PGA Tour card at qualifying school and will be joined by fellow South Korean graduate Sung-hoon Kang on the road next season.

Kim's media appearances have been few and far between thus far, but in his 2010 PGA Tour players' questionnaire he listed singing as a hobby and said Augusta was the course he most wanted to play.


Jessica Korda (United States)

On her personal website, Korda says her ambition is to become the No. 1 golfer in the world, and she heads into 2011 on a high.

Daughter of former professional tennis players Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtova, the 17-year-old cruised through the U.S. LPGA Tour's Q-School after officials agreed to lower the age limit from 18.

"It's very clear Jessica is going to be one of the top ball strikers on tour next year," LPGA public relations director Mike Scanlan told CNN.

"She's honed her all-round game and has a great work ethic. She also comes from a super-athletic family. I expect her to make an instant impact."

Korda made headlines when she qualified and finished 19th in the 2008 U.S. Open, aged just 15. She was runner-up at the 2010 U.S. Amateur and played on the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup team.

Alexis Thompson (United States)

Thompson hit the headlines this summer when the UK and Ireland Ladies' Golf Union refused to give her an exemption to compete at the Women's British Open due to concerns over her tender age.

This was despite the 15-year-old having achieved a runner-up finish at the Evian Masters (a co-sanctioned event on the LPGA and Ladies' European tours) and 10th-placing at the U.S. Women's Open -- aged just 13 years old.

She has already turned professional and, helped by sponsors' exemptions, won over $300,000 on the LPGA Tour.

"Alexis hits the ball a mile and she's very savvy for her age," Scanlan said.

"She's going to be a global icon of women's golf. When you see her tee off it's incredible how much power she has."

Thompson, whose brother Nicholas played on the PGA Tour this year, is home-schooled and has set her sights on playing 15-17 tournaments in 2011.


Elliot Saltman and Lloyd Saltman (Scotland)

The Saltmans became the first brothers to graduate from the same Q-School this year.

The 25-year-old Lloyd tied for 11th to secure his card, but older brother Elliot, 28, had a tense wait and eventually scraped through on the cut line.

"Our mum texted me last night and said she hoped either both of us made it or neither of us, so we could travel together again next season," Elliot told reporters.

"It feels awesome to make it on to the European Tour with my brother and it should be a good Christmas in our house this year after this."

The Saltmans will join Italy's Edoardo and Francesco Molinari as the only brothers on the European Tour in 2011.

Gary Boyd (England)

Manassero was deservedly crowned the European Tour's Rookie of the Year in 2010, but Boyd also had a debut season to remember.

The 24-year-old, who is close friends with English Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, finished the season in electric form, collecting three successive top-10 placings.

His runner-up finish at the Czech Open, where he lost in a playoff to Sweden's Peter Hanson, hinted that a maiden victory on the Tour could be just around the corner.

"It was a little bit disappointing not win, but to lose in a playoff was a dream come true," Boyd told the European Tour website afterwards. "Hopefully next season I can push on and win a tournament."

Boyd ranked inside the top 25 players for driving distance and greens in regulation on the tour in 2010.


Peter Uihlein (United States)

Officially the top-ranked men's amateur, Uihlein celebrated his 21st birthday with victory at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship, earning a place in the 2011 British and U.S. Opens.

"I'd like to be one the best golfers in the world, of all-time," Uihlein told Trans World Sport in 2007.

"I'd like to beat Jack's record (Nicklaus has 18 major titles). It'll probably be Tiger's record when I'm out there. I'd like to just win everything. Live a life like Tiger lives.

"I'd like to hit the ball like (Greg) Norman hit it, like Ben Hogan hit it. Just be one the best players that ever lived.."

The Oklahoma State student was also part of the victorious 2009 U.S. Walker Cup team.

Jin Jeong (South Korea)

Jeong became the first Asian winner of the British Amateur Championship in its 125-year history at Muirfield this year, at the age of 20.

A month later, at the home of golf St. Andrews -- also in Scotland -- he picked up the silver medal for best amateur at the British Open and thus earned himself an invitation to the 2011 Masters.

Like Manassero did this year, Jeong is expected to turn professional after playing at Augusta National in April.


Danielle Kang (United States)

Kang won the 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur at Charlotte Country Club, beating Korda in a hard-fought matchplay final.

The defeated Korda told reporters: "Danielle was just making birdie after birdie after birdie, birdies on top of my birdies, birdies before my birdies. It was a birdie barrage."

The 18-year-old Kang was also a medallist at the 2010 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship, and runner-up at the Canadian Women's Open this year.

She is the No. 1 ranked women's amateur player in the world and is now studying at Pepperdine University in Malibu.

Gabriela Lopez (Mexico)

In July, Lopez stormed to a seven-shot victory in the girls' 15-17 age group at the World Junior Golf Championships at Torrey Pines in California.

The 17-year-old also won the Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic for the second year in succession.

"It feels really good to win because I can put Mexico's name on the top of this tournament," Lopez told the official event website afterwards.