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11D AGO

The Five: Top DP World Tour grads succeeding on the PGA TOUR

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    Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic

    The Genesis Scottish Open field will feature names much of the American golfing public may not be familiar with. They'd be smart to start learning. The field includes 75 DP World Tour members. More than a few will likely be on the PGA TOUR next year.

    As part of the Strategic Alliance with the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour, the top 10 players on the final Race to Dubai Rankings who are not already exempt on the PGA TOUR earn TOUR cards for the next year. Players hold status on both tours, giving the best on the DP World Tour access to the TOUR while still maintaining the flexibility to play in Europe. Think Matthieu Pavon and Robert MacIntyre. They were two of the DP World Tour grads from the inaugural year of the pathway, established before last season.

    As the summer continues, the next crop of talented Euros will continue to take shape, but as the PGA TOUR heads over for its annual summer stint in the United Kingdom, it's an apt time to take a look back at who is performing best from the 2023 class. As a whole, they've proven successful. Two of the 10 have won on TOUR, three are currently projected into the Playoffs and six are inside the top 125.

    Here's a look at the five top performers.

    Matthieu Pavon

    The frontrunner for Rookie of the Year is also the top-performing European from last year's DP World Tour top-10. And he very nearly didn't earn a TOUR card at all.

    A veteran DP World Tour member, Pavon was ready to return there full-time in 2024. If not for four straight birdies to close his final round of the DP World Tour Championship, he would have. But the Frenchman found red numbers in droves, holing birdie putts of 11, 16 and 13 feet and then tapping in a two-footer on the 18th to cap his miraculous run up the leaderboard. It earned him a T5 finish and, more importantly, moved him inside the top 10 in the last week of the Race to Dubai Rankings – PGA TOUR Eligibility ranking to secure a TOUR card.


    Matthieu Pavon wins 2024 Farmers Insurance Open


    Pavon was a late bloomer on the DP World Tour, winning his first event in his 185th start. He needed just three starts to earn his first PGA TOUR victory, outlasting fellow Europeans Thomas Detry and Stephen Jaeger to win the Farmers Insurance Open. A week later he jumped to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings with a solo third at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He finished T12 at the Masters and fifth at the U.S. Open, further illustrating his mettle.

    Robert MacIntyre

    It's been an up-and-down year for MacIntyre and his acclimation to TOUR life. He eloquently spoke about his struggles adjusting to living and playing the majority of his golf in America in an interview with Bunkered in May. It was both off-course and on-course. The courses are different, the grasses are different and, most notably, the people and culture are different.

    "It's just basic stuff to be honest with you that you take for granted back home in Europe. It's just simple things. Sitting in player dining, you do it in Europe and you've got all the Scottish boys, you've got all the British boys. A lot of the European guys, if you're sitting on you're own, they will come and join you," MacIntyre said. "Out here, because you don't know many folk, you don't know them in that same kind of depth, they don't come to sit with you. It does become a lonely place at the golf side of it."

    He carded just one top-30 finish in his first 10 starts but began to find his stride in the spring. He notched three top-15s in a four-event stretch, including a T8 at the PGA Championship. Then he broke through at the RBC Canadian Open, winning his first TOUR event in an emotional scene with his father carrying his bag.


    Robert MacIntyre wins RBC Canadian Open


    MacIntyre is 39th in the FedExCup, well on his way to playing the FedExCup Playoffs in his first season on TOUR, and in position to earn exemptions into all of next year's Signature Events.

    Victor Perez

    Perez was one of the most experienced Europeans to earn dual membership last fall and that veteran acumen has been on display. After a rough start to the season, Perez has stabilized and is playing some of his best golf at the best time.

    Perez finished a season-best third at the RBC Canadian Open, which was enough to earn exemptions in the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday and Travelers Championship via the Aon Swing 5. He finished T12 at the Memorial and T44 at the Travelers, earning enough FedExCup points to slip into the coveted top 70. The top 70 players following the Wyndham Championship will make the FedExCup Playoffs.


    Victor Perez sinks a 40-foot eagle putt at the Memorial


    This week's Genesis Scottish Open is a bit of a homecoming for Perez. He's not Scottish, but he lived in Scotland for six years before relocating to Nassau, Bahamas, and the Albany Club for this TOUR season. The first-year member had lived in Scotland full-time (first in Dundee, then Edinburgh) since 2017 and was based at The Renaissance Club, home of the Genesis Scottish Open.

    Sami Valimaki

    A former DP World Tour Rookie of the Year, Valimaki has work left to do to earn the same title on the PGA TOUR this season. At 86th in the FedExCup, he's well behind Pavon and Knapp. Still, he's in a solid position to keep his TOUR card.


    Sami Valimaki buries a 53-foot birdie putt at RBC Canadian


    Valimaki earned a bulk of his points with a solo second at the Mexico Open at Vidanta in March. The Finn has struggled to replicate that form with much consistency. His T12 at the John Deere Classic was encouraging, but, along with the Mexico Open, it's the only two times Valimaki has finished inside the top 30 of an event.

    Ryo Hisatsune

    Count Hisatsune, 21, among the up-and-coming young players who are quickly establishing themselves on the TOUR. Hisatsune hasn't notched the top results like some of his peers, but his consistency has put him firmly in a position to keep his card for another year.

    Hisatsune, one of just two Japanese players with full status TOUR this year, has four top 20s this season and amassed nearly $1 million in earnings. He's currently 97th in the FedExCup. Hisatsune's T11 at The American Express in January remains his best result.


    Ryo Hisatsune sinks a 51-foot birdie putt at THE CJ CUP


    The youngest player in the DP World Tour top 10 from a year ago, the 21-year-old Hisatsune's rise was rather remarkable. He became the first Japanese golfer to win in Continental Europe in 40 years with his maiden DP World Tour victory during his rookie season at the 2023 Cazoo Open de France.

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