Last year’s rookie crop was a good one. We saw Smylie Kaufmann, Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim all find the winner’s circle and join the discussion of the game’s brightest young players. This year’s class of rookies will be highlighted by 3-time Web.com winner Wesley Bryan and former number 1 ranked amateur Ollie Schneiderjans, but who else should you look out for as the 2016-2017 PGA Tour season starts next week? Here are 8 guys that I have my eye on...
Note: Jon Rahm & Bryson DeChambeau are not considered rookies for the 2016-2017 PGA Tour season.
Murray, the Raleigh, North Carolina native will head to the Tour a bit under the radar compared to some bigger names, but I expect him to be a star. There isn’t much not to like about Murray’s game. He led the Web.com Tour in birdie average and top 10 finishes, finished fourth in driving distance, and second on the money list. Murray notched his first win on the Web.com Tour in the Finals at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course, a tough setup that tends to mirror a PGA Tour setting, boding well for the 23-year-old next season. Read more about Grayson Murray.
Bryan earned a spot on this list by acheiving a rare feat on the Web.com Tour when he won three times and earned a Battlefield Promotion to the PGA Tour. While the three wins are impressive, I am a little down on his long-term potential because of his below average ball striking numbers, which typically don’t bode well for players making the transition from the Web to the PGA Tour. That being said, Bryan putts the lights out of the ball and could become a better version of Aaron Baddeley in the future. Read more about Wesley Bryan here.
Mullinax is set to hit the PGA Tour after a stellar season on the Web.com Tour which saw him finish 8th on the regular season money list and win the Rex Hospital Open. Mullinax joins the many PGA Tour pros who played their college golf at Alabama, where he was an All-American and won two national championships. Mullinax’ game is tailormade for the PGA Tour; he is long off the tee, a strong wedge player and can roll the rock. Read more about Trey Mullinax here.
Pan turned a lot heads with his strong early-round performance in the Olympics, shooting 69-69 to find himself in the top 10 heading into the weekend before struggling on Saturday and Sunday. Pan’s play should surprise no one as the former number 1 ranked amateur has qualified for three U.S. Open Championships and made the cut in two of them. On the Web.com Tour, Pan had seven top 10 finishes in 2016 and is known by his peers as of the best ball-strikers on the tour. Read more about C.T. Pan here.
The 26-year-old Spaun heads to the PGA Tour after a stellar Web.com season and will join his doppleganger, Ryan Moore. Spaun was stellar in the 2nd half of the season racking up a win, two second place finishes, two sixth place finishes and two other top 25s in the last ten events of the regular season. Spaun gets it done with tee-to-green excellence. The Los Angeles native ranked 4th in the overall ball-striking statistic on the season.
Poston started the 2016 Web.com Tour season with no status and no clear path to the PGA Tour. However, after Monday qualifying for the United Leasing Championship, Poston notched a t23rd finish which earned him a start at the following week’s Rex Hospital Open where he finished t3rd. This earned him special full-time status on the Web.com Tour. From there, Poston was one of the most consistent players on the Web, racking up three more top 10 finishes including a playoff loss to Wesley Bryan at the Digital Ally Championship.
The University of Illinois product will head to the PGA Tour after his first full professional season. Campbell turned pro in 2015 after he was the low-amateur at the U.S. Open where he finished t27th. On the Web.com Tour, he was a consistent presence, finishing in the top 10 on five seperate occasions. Campbell’s game isn’t flashy but it’s consistent from tee-to-green, and he is strong on the greens finishing 8th in putting average.
Few on this list will head into the 2016-2017 PGA Tour season with more hype than the former number 1 ranked amateur Schneiderjans, who finished 7th on the Web.com Tour’s money list. Schniederjans’ season was highlighted by a playoff win at the Air Capital Classic along with a playoff loss in the Dominican Republic and three other top 10 finishes. Schniederjans has the tee-to-green game and his much improved wedge game should bode well for his future on the PGA Tour.