Lexi Thompson has made headlines ever since she qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at 12, but she had her breakout moment on the LPGA Tour this year when she won the Navistar Classic by five and was granted LPGA membership two weeks later. Thompson added another title in November at the Dubai Ladies Masters to become the youngest professional to win on the LPGA and Ladies European tours.
2 of 10Robert Beck/SI
The roster of major champions from South Africa grew even larger after Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win the Masters 50 years after Gary Player won his first green jacket. Schwartzel recorded top-20 finishes in all four majors this year, and he ended the year ranked No. 9 in the world.
3 of 10Kohjiro Kinno/SI
Most rookies are happy to keep their cards and live to play another season on the big tour, but Keegan Bradley didn't play like any other rookie in 2011. Bradley won his first PGA Tour event in a playoff at the Byron Nelson, and then he became only the third player to win a major in his very first start when he won the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.
4 of 10Fred Vuich/SI
Bill Haas has long been known as "Jay's kid," but he made a name for himself this year by winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, which included the shot of the year. He also made his first Presidents Cup team along his father, who served as an assistant captain.
5 of 10Anthony Nesmith/Landov
At the start of the 2011 season, Webb Simpson was just another promising, young player looking for his first PGA Tour win. By the end of the year, Simpson had two wins, 12 top 10s and narrowly lost out on the money title to Luke Donald. He also played a key role in helping the U.S. team win the Presidents Cup.
6 of 10Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Tom Lewis was named after Tom Watson and grew up in the same hometown as Nick Faldo, so was there ever a doubt he'd be a pro golfer? Lewis shined at the British Open, finishing as the low amateur while playing the opening two rounds with Watson. Three months later, Lewis came from four shots back on Sunday to win his first European Tour event at the Portugal Masters.
7 of 10Fred Beckham/AP
UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay finished the year as the top-ranked amateur in the world, an amazing achievement on its own. But it was on the PGA Tour where Cantlay proved he can hang with the best players in the world, too. He finished in the top 25 in four of the five PGA Tour events he played in, including a T9 at the Canadian Open. Cantlay also shot a 60 at the Travelers Championship, the lowest round on tour this season.UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay finished the year as the top-ranked amateur in the world, an amazing achievement on its own. But it was on the PGA Tour where Cantlay proved he can hang with the best players in the world, too. He finished in the top 25 in four of the five PGA Tour events he played in, including a T9 at the Canadian Open. Cantlay also shot a 60 at the Travelers Championship, the lowest round on Tour this season.
8 of 10Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Jhonattan Vegas is simply known as Jhonny Vegas after his whirlwind rookie year that saw him win his fifth Tour start and become the first player from Venezuela to win on the PGA Tour.
9 of 10Fred Vuich/SI
Gary Woodland was yet another rookie in 2011 who wasted no time getting into the winner's circle. After losing in a playoff to Vegas at the Bob Hope, Woodland won the Transitions Championship on one of the toughest PGA Tour courses of the year. Woodland also recorded 15 top-25 finishes in 25 events, and he ended the year by winning the World Cup with Matt Kuchar.
10 of 10John Biever/SI
Jason Day didn't win in 2011, but with runner-up finishes at the Masters and the U.S. Open, and top 10s at the Players, Firestone, Deutsche Bank and Tour Championship, he finished the season ranked No. 8 in the world, 30 spots higher than he started the year.
Special Section: Breakout Players of 2011
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