2017-18 Rookie Ranking
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
There are 23 rookies on the PGA TOUR in 2017-18. 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: Even when it happened, Russell Henley’s victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2013 was an obvious anomaly, but it continues to stand out five years after the fact.
Not only was Henley a rookie at Waialae Country Club at the time, but he became the tournament’s only first-time winner since it debuted as a PGA TOUR event in 1965, a mark that extends another year with Patton Kizzire’s victory on Sunday.
Henley established a then-tournament record of 24-under 256 in the process, added a couple of T6s later in his season and was still pummeled by Jordan Spieth in the Rookie of the Year race. Spieth won once and added a trio of runner-up finishes, including a T2 at the TOUR Championship for which Henley didn’t qualify, and totaled nine top 10s.
So, where Henley’s achievement as a rookie at Waialae aligns with all other rookies since is that the course hasn’t revealed the eventual Rookie of the Year. Spieth (DNP), Chesson Hadley (MC, 2014), Daniel Berger (T13, 2015), Emiliano Grillo (T33, 2016) and Xander Schauffele (MC, 2017) were non-factors in the first full-field event of the calendar year.
That relative drought just might come to an end this year, however. Rookie Austin Cook was already in the pole position for the hardware before he shared low-rookie honors at Waialae with Talor Gooch. They shared 18th place at 11-under 269, six strokes too many for the playoff. Of the 22 rookies in the field, 13 survived the cut, most since Henley’s class when 15-for-22.
Looking ahead, this week’s CareerBuilder Challenge might be setting a precedent for any rookie class since all 23 are scheduled to compete. It would be the first time that rookies would be fully represented in any tournament since the current definition of a rookie was adopted early in the 2013 season. Before that, internationals who were first-time members were considered rookies, and their playing schedules never aligned with the true rookies who competed only on the PGA TOUR. Since, a combination of rookies on medical extensions, injuries and other reasons thwarted the possibility.
LOW ROOKIE: Austin Cook (T18). Third time (Win, RSM; T22, Sentry).
LOW ROOKIE: Talor Gooch (T18). Second time (T16, Shriners).
CAREER-BEST FINISHES (AND TIES): Nate Lashley (T39); Conrad Shindler (T47); Lanto Griffin (T58); Sam Ryder (T58).
* - In the field at the CareerBuilder Challenge as of Jan. 14.
Through Sony Open in Hawaii
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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.