1st Jan 2022 | Golf
PGA Tour Rookies To Watch In 2016/17
With the new PGA Tour season just over a week away, we highlight four rookies who can make the step up from the Web.com Tour.
With the Tour Championship cancelled due to hurricane Matthew, the Web.com Tour season finishes four days earlier than scheduled. It’s an anti-climax to what has been a thrilling season but the 50 players lucky enough to secure their tour cards won’t have long to wait. The PGA Tour starts again on the 13 October at the Safeway Open.
Last season’s preview highlighted Smylie Kaufman as a player to watch and he quickly rewarded followers by winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at a mammoth 250/1.
Those making the step up from the Web.com Tour need to have talent but on some big courses it also helps to have length. With that in mind here are four tour rookies to look out for in the upcoming season.
Regular readers will be familiar with Trey Mullinax, he is almost a weekly fixture in our Web.com tips and has the requisite skills to make a mark on the PGA Tour. The 24-year-old locked up his card early with a win at the Rex Hospitals Open and even though he missed plenty of cuts (8) he is a demon when given the right conditions.
This is Smylie Kaufman 2.0 – he drives it long and can putt. Last season Mullinax ranked in the top-10 on tour for driving distance, putting average and birdie average. Smylie Kaufman did the same in 2015.
Just check out where Kaufman went well and pencil Mullinax in his stead.
Suitable Tournament: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (3 Nov 2016)
After finishing 18th on the money list during the regular season Grayson Murray didn’t need anything from the Final Series but kept his foot on the pedal and starts the PGA Tour season as the hottest player on the circuit.
Having begun the year with limited status, Murray finished top for a whole host of rankings. He led the tour in birdie average, scoring average and the all-around ranking but just as important he is a big hitter, averaging 319.4 yards off the tee.
Since the start of August, the 23-year-old has finished 2-17-32-3-1 and as we saw with Emiliano Grillo, form players can quickly make the leap between tours.
Murray also has the advantage of Mike Hicks on the bag, previously Payne Stewart’s caddie. The pair have been longtime family friends and his impact was immediate as they teamed up to win the Nationwide Children’s Hospitals Championship.
Hicks will be staying with Murray next season and for a young rookie the experience he brings will be invaluable.
Suitable Tournament: Safeway Open (13 Oct 2016)
It is quite incredible to think JT Poston started the year with no status but will end it on the PGA Tour. He Monday qualified for the ULF Championship in May, finished T23 on debut and snowballed from there.
Poston finished the regular season with four top-10s and statically there is plenty to like about his game. He drives it fairly long, straight and ranks in the top-5 for GIRs, putting, birdie average and scoring average.
Based in Sea Island, Georgia he is surrounded by PGA Tour pros and not only will the competition improve his golf, there is a wealth of experience to tap into. It doesn’t seem like Poston’s meteoric rise will stop any time soon.
Suitable Tournament: RSM Classic (17 Nov 2016)
Having tipped Xander Schauffele for the Tour Championship it’s disappointing we won’t get a run for our money. However, it could be a blessing in disguise because it means he’s not shown his hand to a wider audience.
A highly regarded collegiate golfer, the PGA Tour always looked his likely destination and he made it at the first attempt. The most impressive thing about Schauffele this season has been his attitude. He started the season poorly but learned from the experience and put it to good use in the second half of the campaign.
Consecutive top-3 finishes at the Utah Championship and Ellie Mae Classic meant he spent the last couple of months on the ‘bubble’ hovering around the final tour card spots. Unfortunately, he missed out by one place but that spurred him onto greater heights with a run of T50-T18-T9 securing a tour card via the Finals.
Talent allied with character will see Schauffele go far. His one weakness is he can be wayward off the tee but he’s got distance and on more forgiving courses he can thrive.
Suitable Tournament: Phoenix Open (2 Feb 2015)
Odds correct at time of publishing: 13:22 1st Jan, 2022 but subject to change