In the sports media world, we’re obsessed with the hypotheticals. At NLU, we’re not journalists, but that doesn’t mean we don’t fit the bill. There’s a reason our weekly previews tend to be about three times as many words as the recaps. The projecting, prognosticating, and predicting is more interesting and debatable in many regards than what has already happened. With that thought in mind, we’re going to reject the cliché of going bracket style this time of year, and throw out some of own hypotheticals.

The idea is to predict career trajectories for recognizable Tour players, ones that have had somewhat similar careers to date. We figure it’s a fun thought exercise as we all try to kill time before the Big Show next week. So we’ve started with four pairings (this is a ripe area where we hope to dive in and create some more exotic hypotheticals down the line perhaps). Yes, we’re teeing ourselves up to look dumb a few years from now, but let’s go for it anyway. Nothing at stake, hopefully just a good-natured debate on which guy’s career you would prefer on a go-forward basis.

The Young, Hung Americans

Patrick Reed vs. Harris English

This is a battle of two youngsters that show buckets of promise to go along with their combined five career Tour wins before the age of 25. These two guys are REALLY fun to watch swing the club (and it’s pretty fun to hear Patrick Reed talk as well). What the swashbuckling Mr. Reed lacks in grace and physique, he makes up for with his ability to move the club with fluidity. I think he is going to regret the comments he made, but I also think he’s going to be a presence on Tour for a very long time. I’ve had good vibes about Harry (NLU coined nickname of “Too Big To Fail”) since he got the nod from the, and I’m not even remotely surprised with the success he’s having. Both future Ryder Cupers, likely as early as this year, but I think we only have one multiple Major winner here and that’s the Duke of Cambridge, Harris English.

The Guys That Should Still Be In College

Jordan Spieth vs. Hideki MatsuYOTTO

On the surface this is a runaway for Jordan. But the more I think about it, the more impressed I am on what MatsuYOTTO has been able to accomplish. His run in the majors last year deserves way more recognition that it’s received (T10 at U.S. Open, T6 at the Open, and T19 at the PGA). He has slowed down a bit of late, but the guy hasn’t missed a cut in his first time around on the PGA Tour playing on courses that can’t be familiar. Speith gets all the hype, and maybe rightfully so, but if MatsuYOTTO sticks it out over here, both these guys are on Hall of Fame trajectories. This has future Presidents Cup rivalry written all over it (say the half-dozen people that religiously follow the Presidents Cup). I go Spieth (hypocrite, I know).

The SEC Championship

Jason Dufner vs. Brandt Snedeker

We’ve got the striper who can’t putt against perhaps the best putter in the world who is a below average ball striker (to put it nicely). Both guys are right at that point in their career where they should be hitting their prime and both guys have kinda sorta trailed off their trajectories as of late. Perhaps they were over-achieving their past couple of years, and settling into a zone that is closer to their true talent level. Obviously, the fact that Duf is the last human on the planet to win a major title, so we might be a bit short sighted here. I don’t trust Duf with any putt outside the leather. Sneds is going to will himself to at least one Major, because he’s going to admit himself into a Psychiatric Hospital if he doesn’t win The Masters. I guess if it’s a race to who can get to two Majors, I think it’s gonna be the guy that can make it from anywhere. Snedeker by a hair (probably not the best metaphor considering his loaf got neutered recently).

The Big Game Hunters

Dustin Johnson vs. Jason Day

Are these the two most talented guys in the world without Majors? Aside from Hank Stenson, that’s what the OWGR tells us. This is a really tough one, and I still find it hard to believe Jason Day has only won twice on Tour considering he has competed in what feels like every Major of the past five years. DJ is heralded as the next star, as every announcer in golf just drools as he struts down the fairway. His blown chances in majors is well publicized, from the collapse at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble, the grounded club at the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits, and the blatantly fanned 5-iron OB at Clarke’s Open Championship in 2011 at St. George’s. You get the feeling that if one of these guys gets one, they may get a second very soon after. The better debate might be who has the hottest WAG, and I’m even more confused by that one. I’ll go with Jason Day–just a hunch. For both.

There’s four. Give me your thoughts on who you would take and why. And what others out there are worthy of debate?