Everybody (or virtually everybody) is aware of the Matthew Wolffs, Scottie Schefflers and Collin Morikawas of the world. These 20-somethings can be tough to overlook after they burned by means of the PGA Tour world in 2019 and 2020, setting themselves up for what needs to be a very intriguing 2021 through which they are going to now not be the plucky upstarts however fairly the heavyweight favorites on the largest occasions on the planet.
Nonetheless, as 2021 creeps up on us, we should always look past the apparent younger studs at some lesser-known names that might make noise subsequent 12 months and past. A few of these golfers have already discovered success on the PGA Tour stage, whereas others are barely professionals. Not all of them will turn out to be stars, however they’re names that solely essentially the most hardcore golf followers will know that it is best to turn out to be aware of earlier than they hit the mainstream.
We’ll begin with the obvious one — any person who earned short-term PGA Tour membership within the fall whereas we have been all listening to the NBA playoffs and the guts of the NFL season.
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1. Will Zalatoris
From Sept. 1 to the tip of 2020, Zalatoris was higher than Scheffler, Wolff and Morikawa, to not point out additionally Daniel Berger, Sungjae Im, Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Scott and Lee Westwood. Knowledge Golf has him ranked because the 30th-best participant on the planet, and you have most likely barely ever heard his identify — in case you’ve heard it in any respect. He is virtually actually subsequent in line to leap from main the Korn Ferry Tour (the place he began 2020) to turning into PGA Tour Rookie of the Yr in 2021.
2. Brandon Wu
The previous Stanford stud completed the 12 months with 4 prime 10s in his final seven occasions, together with a win on the Korn Ferry Tour. He went from No. 862 on the planet to No. 164 (and Knowledge Golf has him even increased). He famously skipped commencement as a result of he made the minimize on the 2019 U.S. Open. Issues appeared to click on into place for him on the finish of his first 12 months as a professional, and I would not be stunned if he made a Zalatoris-like leap in 2021.
three. Taylor Pendrith
Averaged 322 yards off the tee on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020, which is fairly loopy and in addition crucial talent in skilled golf proper now. At age 29, he is the oldest participant on this record, however his profession has been an intriguing sequence of ups and downs that has included myriad accidents. He completed runner-up 4 occasions on the KFT after golf restarted in June.
four. Austin Eckroat
Let’s discuss how Oklahoma State had Wolff, Hovland and Eckroat (in addition to world No. 176 on the identical crew). They went 183-6-1 and received the nationwide championship on their house course. Now, Eckroat is seeking to be part of his former teammates on the PGA Tour. He not too long ago completed T12 on the Mayakoba Golf Basic and is ranked No. three on the PGA Tour College Rankings. He is a bit older than I’d usually favor for any person popping out of school, however a few of that was unavoidable due to the pandemic. He ought to thrive instantly within the skilled ranks.
5. Kevin Yu
Solely Jon Rahm had a greater scoring common as a freshman at Arizona State than Yu again when he was a freshman in 2017. Now a senior, Yu is the No. 1-ranked beginner on the planet, in keeping with Knowledge Golf. The pandemic has additionally labored a bit in his favor as he now has a fairly robust path ahead to getting his card on the Korn Ferry Tour.
6. Rasmus Hojgaard
The 19-year-old has already received twice on the European Tour and is into the highest 100 within the OWGR. Once more, he is 19. He additionally has a twin brother who performs professionally, and their dream is to some day play within the Ryder Cup collectively.
7. Justin Suh
Keep in mind him? The fourth member of the Hovland-Wolff-Morikawa press convention on the Vacationers Championship in 2019 has taken a bit longer to develop as a professional, however he got here on robust on the finish of the 12 months with a pair of top-15 finishes on the PGA Tour that bumped him to inside the highest 500 within the OWGR. His pedigree is plain, and when doubtful in golf, it is best to at all times wager on pedigrees. He carried out like a top-100 participant on the planet for many of his faculty profession, and whereas turning professional can typically break you down a bit, he is poised for an enormous 2021.
eight. Davis Thompson
Former Georgia Bulldog Keith Mitchell not too long ago talked about Thompson on the “No Laying Up” podcast as any person who’s knowledgeable golfer presently taking part in beginner golf. He turned the No. 1-ranked beginner on the planet in November shortly after contending (and briefly main) in Spherical 1 of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Nonetheless seems to be impossibly younger (he was not alive for Tiger Woods’ first Masters win), however his recreation will match properly on the Korn Ferry Tour (or PGA Tour?) subsequent 12 months.
9. Takumi Kanaya
The previous No. 1 beginner on the planet lastly turned professional in 2020, and his recreation continues to enhance. He completely destroys on the Japan circuits — he not too long ago received the Dunlop Phoenix for his second worldwide win — and although he is a bit older than you would possibly assume (he’ll flip 23 in Could), he has but to play a really sturdy schedule worldwide. I am intrigued to see what occurs when he does.
10. Akshay Bhatia
One other identify you most likely received to know this fall as Bhatia turned professional in late 2019 on the tender age of 17 and rose 1,000 spots within the Official World Golf Rankings in 2020 after a prime 10 on the Safeway Open. He clearly has a protracted option to go to meet a number of the hype round him, however making cuts and grabbing prime 10s on the age of 18 on the PGA Tour is an enormous (and underrated) deal. We frequently lump all of the younger guys collectively, however there’s a chasm between being 18 and on the PGA Tour and being 23 or 24 on the market. I am excited for his future.