2015-2016 Rookie Rankings
September 25, 2016
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Emiliano Grillo qualified for the TOUR Championship as a rookie. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
There are 21 rookies on the PGA TOUR in 2015-16. This feature provides a subjective ranking updated weekly. The Rookie of the Year is voted by PGA TOUR members who make at least 15 starts.
If eligible members hadn’t yet decided for whom they’d vote as Rookie of the Year, it’s unlikely that the results of the TOUR Championship made a difference. Both Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim tied for 10th place in the 2015-16 season finale, 10 strokes off the pace of the three-way playoff. They were the only rookies in the field of 30.
The duo thrived throughout the season in different ways. Buoyed by back-to-back wins just inside 12 months ago, the second of which at the season-opening Frys.com Open, Grillo competed in every major, every World Golf Championship and THE PLAYERS. But he also played abroad, thus limiting his playing time in the U.S. Meanwhile, Kim maintained one of the busiest schedules of any PGA TOUR member. He didn’t qualify for any of the WGCs or the first three majors, but he pounded leaderboards en route to 16 top 25s.
In the aggregate, Kim has the edge, but Grillo owns the averages (i.e. achieving more in fewer opportunities), but they are nearly identical in the overall head-to-head record. Grillo went 106-59-7 versus all rookies for a clip of 63.663 percent. Kim’s 199-112-20 values out at 63.142 percent. When comparing just the two against each other, Grillo squeaks by with an 8-7-2 slate.
Smylie Kaufman is the only other rookie who converted a victory this season, but his overall head-to-head doesn’t measure up at 120-107-6 (52.790 percent). He also missed eight of his 10 cuts in his last 13 starts, two of which didn’t feature a cut.
So, while relatively surprising returns from voting have occurred in the past, and despite Kim’s position in my ranking below, there are strong arguments for either Kim or Grillo to win the Rookie of the Year award. The announcement will be made soon.
Seven 2015-16 PGA TOUR rookies played in their third straight Web.com Tour Finals event. Four made the cut at last week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, but all are outside the bubble to regain fully exempt status next season. Rob Oppenheim paced rookies in Columbus, Ohio, with a T12. He’s also best among the lot overall at 26th on the Finals’ money list among those not already exempt. Hiroshi Iwata is next in line at 36th, followed by Thomas Aiken (41st), Rhein Gibson (45th), Andrew Landry (T54) and Abraham Ancer (T69). Dawie van der Walt has gone 0-for-3 in the series, while Bronson Burgoon has not played since withdrawing during the first event. The Web.com Tour Championship on Oct. 6-9 will determine the last 25 golfers to earn 2016-17 cards.
Because he finished outside the top 200 in FedExCup points in 2015-16, Lucas Lee has played twice worldwide since he finished the season with a T63 at the Wyndham Championship. After missing the cut at the Made in Denmark the following week, he fell three off the cut line at last week’s 63 Aberto de Brasil on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica (contested on Olympic Golf Course in Rio). The Brazilian native withdrew during his other start on that circuit in late May.
LOW ROOKIE: Emiliano Grillo, T10. Seventh time (Win, Frys.com; T55, DEAN & DELUCA; T11, Memorial; T14, WGC-Bridgestone; T13, PGA Championship; T2, Barclays).
LOW ROOKIE: Si Woo Kim, T10. Eleventh time (T18, RSM; 4th, Sony; T9, CareerBuilder; T14, Heritage; T23, PLAYERS; P2, Barbasol; T25, Travelers; Win, Wyndham; T15, Deutsche Bank; T20, BMW).
CAREER-BEST FINISHES (AND TIES): n/a
* - Scheduled to compete in the Ryder Cup as of Sept. 25.
# - Scheduled to defend his title at the Shinhan Donghae Open as of Sept. 25.
^ - Byeong-Hun An, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Søren Kjeldsen and Jon Rahm completed the PGA TOUR Season with enough non-member FedExCup points and/or earnings to finish inside the top 125 among members and, therefore, qualify as rookies. None are eligible for the Playoffs, but the number in parentheses in the FedExCup Rank column reflects where he would rank among members at the conclusion of the Wyndham Championship.
Through the TOUR Championship
Rank Name FedExCup Rank Best Finish Starts Cuts Made Top 10s 1 Si Woo Kim 17 1st 34 23 5 2 Emiliano Grillo 11 P1 25 22 3 3 Smylie Kaufman 43 1st 28 18 4 4 Patton Kizzire 82 T2 27 20 5 5 *^Rafa Cabrera-Bello (79) 3rd 10 9 3 6 Harold Varner III 75 T5 28 18 4 7 Brett Stegmaier 108 T2 29 16 3 8 #^Byeong-Hun An (101) P2 14 10 2 9 ^Jon Rahm (122) T2 7 6 2 10 ^Søren Kjeldsen (139) T7 12 10 2 11 Michael Kim 118 T11 29 22 - 12 Bronson Burgoon 131 T14 27 16 - 13 Hiroshi Iwata 146 T4 29 14 1 14 Rob Oppenheim 158 T10 21 13 1 15 Andrew Landry 178 T8 18 9 1 16 Thomas Aiken 166 T15 23 12 - 17 Dawie van Der Walt 171 T17 25 11 - 18 Abraham Ancer 190 T18 19 6 - 19 Rhein Gibson 199 T25 20 9 - 20 Lucas Lee 203 T36 16 6 - 21 Patrick Cantlay n/a - - - -
NOTE: A player’s rookie season ("Rookie Year") is defined as the season in which he becomes a PGA TOUR member (including Special Temporary Members) and plays in 10 or more events as a member or finishes in the Top 125 on the Official FedExCup Points List, the Top 125 on the Official PGA TOUR Money List or qualifies as a Top 125 - Nonmember, whichever occurs first. Further, for purposes of this definition, a new member (including Special Temporary Members) shall not be eligible for the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year if he has previously played in more than seven (7) Official PGA TOUR Money events as a professional in any prior season.