Top 10 alumni to watch on the Web.com Tour this season
Proven contenders and strong up-and-comers feature in this year's crop of alums
January 08, 2018
By Brian Decker, PGATOUR.COM
The Web.com Tour begins its 2018 season this week at the Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, and with 71 Mackenzie Tour - PGA TOUR Canada alumni holding status for this year, players who once competed in Canada are among the heavy hitters to keep an eye on this year.
The following are 10 alums to watch for as they compete to make the next step on the path to the PGA TOUR.
After winning the Freedom 55 Financial Open in May to kick off his Mackenzie Tour career, McCoy made the most of the exemption he earned into the Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School, capturing medalist honours and earning exempt status for the 2018 season.
The 23-year old was recently named by PGATOUR.COM as the No. 1 Player to Watch on the Web.com Tour this season, thanks to his impressive resumé that includes a Walker Cup appearance, three 1st Team All-American nods at the University of Georgia and a high-profile pairing with Jordan Spieth at the 2016 Valspar Championship, where he went on to finish fourth as an amateur.
2017 wasn't the year that McCarthy, the 2016 Mackenzie Tour Player of the Year, had hoped for. A nagging wrist injury sidelined him for much of the summer, and a year after re-writing the Mackenzie Tour record books with four wins and an unprecedented season earnings total, the 32-year old was forced to miss 10 straight tournaments.
McCarthy looks to be back in form, however, resuming his winning ways on the Florida mini tour scene and entering 2018 with a clean bill of health. He should have good memories of Great Exuma as well, having opened his Web.com Tour season with a fourth-place finish there last year.
It's hard to imagine a better year on the course than 2017 was for Hickok, who claimed Mackenzie Tour Player of the Year honours thanks to two wins, three runner-ups and top-25 finishes in nine of his 12 starts. Another one of PGATOUR.COM's Players to Watch this year, Hickok also picked up wins in Texas and Mexico while helping his Mackenzie Tour team to victory at the Aruba Cup with a clutch singles win over PGA TOUR Latinoamérica's José de Jesus Rodríguez.
After beginning the year without status on any Tour and mostly being known as Jordan Spieth's roommate, Hickok started the year motivated and ready to carve his own path and make his own name. He proved it with a remarkable season in Canada while also showing he can compete at the game's highest levels, with a T19 finish at the RBC Canadian Open and an impressive run at the Australian PGA Championship and New South Wales Open.
Perhaps no player proved his mettle more this year than Newcomb, who won three times combined on the Mackenzie Tour and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica in a variety of fashions, including playoff wins in Honduras and Edmonton and a runaway victory in Cape Breton. The 27-year old turned a chance mid-season start at the Players Cup into a remarkable run that saw him finish fourth on the Order of Merit and eventually improve his Web.com Tour status with a solid showing at Final Stage.
A former standout at Murray State who stands out on the course thanks to his unique style, Newcomb recently recapped his remarkable season and list of adventures in 2017 with PGATOUR.COM's Golf's Next Wave podcast.
Like Newcomb, Lebioda excelled on both the Mackenzie Tour and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica in 2017, winning the Mackenzie Investments Open presented by Jaguar Laval for his first professional win while recording six top-10s and 11 top-25s to finish sixth on the Latinoamérica Order of Merit, advancing him to the Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
A former All-American and ACC Player of the Year at Florida State, Lebioda showed what he's capable of with a dominating eight-stroke win in Montréal, tying the record for largest margin of victory during the PGA TOUR era on the Mackenzie Tour.
Rottluff did in 2017 what no player had previously done on the Mackenzie Tour, winning in back-to-back years thanks to a win at the Bayview Place Cardtronics Open presented by Times Colonist. Less than a year after his first pro win at the SIGA Dakota Dunes Open, Rottluff prevailed by a stroke over T.J. Vogel to win in Victoria, eventually earning an exemption to the Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School and securing solid status for 2018.
While competing at Arizona State, Rottluff was a teammate of Jon Rahm and joined the PGA TOUR winner as a 1st team All-American in 2015. He also helped the Mackenzie Tour to a narrow victory at the Aruba Cup thanks to a dominating singles win.
A year after finishing third on the Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit and earning a step up to the Web.com Tour, Moore had a solid showing in 2017 with nine top-25 finishes and three top-10s, including a T3 in Nashville. The University of Arkansas alum earned more than $124,000 as a rookie and found himself in contention for a PGA TOUR card during the Web.com Tour Finals, narrowly missing out after a disappointing missed cut at the Web.com Tour Championship.
Moore quickly showed an aptitude for the pro game during his season on the Mackenzie Tour in 2016, recording a win at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel along with four other top-five finishes to earn a promotion to the Web.com Tour.
When it comes to unique paths to the Web.com Tour, Harlingten's story stands out. Once a prodigy who became the youngest player ever to make the cut on the Web.com Tour, a wrist injury forced the Vancouverite to give up the game in his early 20s and take a job in the stock market before slowly making a return over the past four seasons on the Mackenzie Tour.
With 20 finishes in the top-25 over the last four years, Harlingten has steadily reacclimated himself to the professional game. He earned his way through all three stages of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament this year and earned solid status with a T30 finish at Final Stage.
Perhaps no player will be more motivated this year than Svensson, who missed out on a spot in The Finals 25 by a mere $2,888, finishing 26th and narrowly missing his PGA TOUR card. But despite the heartbreak, Svensson has shown plenty of game since turning pro in 2015, when he recorded four top-five finishes on the Mackenzie Tour and eventually earned medalist honours at the Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
Svensson owns five top-10s and 13 top-25s in his two full seasons on the Web.com Tour, including a T5 during last year's Web.com Tour Finals at the Albertson's Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco - a finish that brought him tantalizingly close to a PGA TOUR card.
Wright is no stranger to success on the Web.com Tour, having recorded six top-10s there between 2014 and 2015. After a down year in 2016, the University of Indiana alum built momentum back in the right direction on the Mackenzie Tour in 2017, finishing eighth on the Order of Merit to earn an exemption to the Final Stage of Q-School, where secured eight starts to begin the 2018 campaign.
Wright's moment in the sun in 2017 came at the 2017 ATB Financial Classic, where he prevailed by a stroke to cap off a consistent season that featured top 25 finishes in half of his starts.