Modern golf is deeper than it ever has been. Those who get to the PGA Tour are more developed, more prepared, and more capable of competing with the best in the world. They have to be.
‘Hello world’, John Daly at Crooked Stick, Spieth at the Deere, and Rory’s 62 at Quail Hollow are all moments etched in history by first-year players. Here are the rookies we think will make their mark in 2019.
The New Era – Cam Champ
I bet you’re all surprised to see the guy who hits it 350 and already won an event this fall. Let’s not belabor the point, but Cameron Champ is going to be on the radar all year. The nature of many tour courses will allow him to get into contention, and the weeks where he putts well will lead to victories. Champ currently leads the Tour in SG: Off the tee and will need a case of the driver yips to fall anywhere outside the top 5 on the full season. Last year, eight of the top 10 in SG: Off the Tee made it to East Lake for the Tour Championship. Expect to see Champ on a great deal of leaderboards in 2019. When his approach and short game get close to a Tour average level, it will be scary.
The Guarantee – Sungjae Im
Only one person earned more than $300,000 on the Web.com Tour last season, Sungjae Im. He earned $534,000 dollars and nearly doubled the money of second place. Im is a top-25 machine, and his ability to play every event possible will give him limitless chances. He played 34 events in 2018 and notched a top-10 finish in 9 of those tournaments. At just 20 years old, Sungjae Im certainly looks like a star in the making.
20-year-old South Korean sensation, Sungjae Im
The Grinder – Chase Wright
No one on this list has spent more time trying to qualify for the PGA Tour than Chase Wright. He has bounced between the Asian Tour, Mackenzie Tour, and Web.com since 2013 but has finally broken through. A former Indiana golfer, Wright has overcome some serious adversity over the last three seasons. He completely lost his game and then rebuilt himself over the last three years. He is a rookie at 29 years old but is playing the best golf of his life.
The “Yet Another 2011 Grad” – Anders Albertson
As if we did not have enough of them already, Albertson looks like he is ready to join other 2011 grads as the class of the PGA Tour. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 2015 and immediately qualified for the Web.com Tour. Last season, he won his first event on his way to finishing 8th on the money list. The dude makes a buttload of birdies and can win at any moment.
The Eh Team – Adam Svensson
I had three college teammates from Canada, and they would not shut up about this kid at Barry University. “Svenny” was the kid from Canada who they all thought was the best thing since sliced bread. It turns out my teammates were probably correct. He played in 25 events in college and only finished outside the top 10 twice. Since turning professional, he has mainly played on the Web.com and Mackenzie Tours. He broke through last season with five top-10 finishes and a victory in the Bahamas.
The Next Adam Scott? – Cameron Davis
In the modern age, hitting the ball a long way and making putts is a great way to win. Cameron Davis finished in the top 10 in both driving distance and average putts on the Web.com Tour last season. It is obviously a stretch to say that Davis could reach Adam Scott level, but he does have serious potential. He is a phenomenal driver of the ball, and he can putt something Scott has battled his entire career. He’s also Australian, and that is a key factor in my comparison.
The SS Austria – Sepp Straka
Big Bernd Wiesberger is about to have competition for top Austrian golfer. Straka is a young guy who played college golf at Georgia and has some serious all-around game. He finished in the top 10 in both total driving and ball striking on the Web last season. Straka is the first Austrian to earn a PGA Tour card and will look to make Arnold Schwarzenegger proud in 2019.
The Microwave Man – Martin Trainer
Martin Trainer is only 27 years old, but you can already classify him as a journeyman. Since 2016, he has played events on the Mackenzie Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamerica, Web.com Tour, and PGA Tour. Last year, he played 21 events on the Web and won two of them. In the other 19 events, he missed twelve cuts and only notched one top-25 finish. I love a player who can heat up for a week and then fall off the earth for a while.