2015-2016 Rookie Rankings
August 22, 2016
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Patton Kizzire was the leading money winner during the 2015 Web.com Tour season. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
There are 20 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.
SNAPSHOT: For the avid fans who follow such a thing, the end of the PGA TOUR Season can hurl a wrench into the ongoing conversation for the Rookie of the Year award. Because of the nuance and official criteria, we’ve known for weeks and, in some cases, months that Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Jon Rahm and Søren Kjeldsen would eventually join Special Temporary Member Byeong-Hun An as PGA TOUR rookies in 2015-16. However, none of the three qualified until the Wyndham Championship concluded at which time the 125th-ranked golfers in both the FedExCup standings and money list were established. Once they were, status for 2016-17 was determined, including non-members who would have otherwise finished inside the top 125 in either among members. This is why the trio now appears in the table below.
The additions of the two Spaniards and the Dane isn’t without impact. Voters will review and assess full-season records, so the table below reflects the same, at least in the context of the subjective ranking. What’s not illustrated is that nine rookies across eight events were stripped of low-rookie honors after results of the newly added rookies were inputted. Cabrera-Bello replaced low rookies at the Match Play and Houston Open. Rahm was low rookie at Quicken Loans, Canadian Open and Travelers. Kjeldsen’s set was the most impressive among the three, as he paced rookies at the Masters, PLAYERS and Open Championship.
Low-rookie honors isn’t an official statistic, but it’s always supported or diminished head-to-head records in more extreme examples. It also helps take the real-time pulse of the class as a whole. This year’s crop was about average. Since the current definition of a rookie was adopted in 2013, 26 have qualified for the Playoffs, including six this season. (Nine officially qualified in both 2013 and 2014-15.) However, another three would have this year if they were members, so there’s comparable depth. Incidentally, this was the final season in which the money list was used to award fully exempt status, so Kjeldsen goes in the annals as the last golfer to attain rookie eligibility without achieving the objective with FedExCup points.
Tyrrell Hatton had an opportunity to join this class as he entered the Wyndham with equivalent values that would have ranked him 128th on the money list and 165th in FedExCup points, but he missed the cut by two strokes. Still, because he made only five starts, he can qualify as a rookie in another season.
Matt Fitzpatrick sat 123rd among members on the money list entering the Wyndham Championship. He competed on the European Tour last week and qualified for the Ryder Cup team, but he came up short of the top 125 in earnings on the PGA TOUR by $3,973. (He would have ranked outside the top 150 in FedExCup points.) As a result, he does not qualify as a rookie and cannot in the future because he made 12 starts.
LOW ROOKIE: Rafa Cabrera-Bello, T5. Third time (3rd, WGC-Match Play; 4th, Houston).
LOW ROOKIE: Brett Stegmaier, T5. Fourth time (T41, Phoenix; T18, Valspar; T9, St. Jude).
CAREER-BEST FINISHES (AND TIES): n/a
* - In the field at The Barclays as of Aug. 21.
# - In the field at the Web.com Tour's WinCo Foods Portland Open as of Aug. 21.
@ - In the field at the European Tour's Made in Denmark as of Aug. 21.
^ - 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 Wyndham Championship
Rank Name FedExCup Rank Best Finish Starts Cuts Made Top 10s 1 *Smylie Kaufman 26 1st 25 16 4 2 *Emiliano Grillo 32 P1 21 18 1 3 *Patton Kizzire 58 T2 25 20 5 4 @^Rafa Cabrera-Bello (79) 3rd 10 9 3 5 *Harold Varner III 82 T5 26 16 4 6 *Brett Stegmaier 101 T2 28 16 3 7 ^Byeong-Hun An (101) P2 14 10 2 8 ^Jon Rahm (122) T2 7 6 2 9 @^Søren Kjeldsen (139) T7 12 10 2 10 *Michael Kim 115 T11 28 22 - 11 Bronson Burgoon 131 T14 27 16 - 12 Hiroshi Iwata 146 T4 29 14 1 13 Rob Oppenheim 158 T10 21 13 1 14 #Andrew Landry 178 T8 18 9 1 15 Thomas Aiken 166 T15 23 12 - 16 Dawie van Der Walt 171 T17 25 11 - 17 Abraham Ancer 190 T18 19 6 - 18 #Rhein Gibson 199 T25 20 9 - 19 Lucas Lee 203 T36 16 16 - 20 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.