Top 10 rookies to watch on TOUR in 2019-20
September 05, 2019
By Zephyr Melton, PGATOUR.COM
- September 05, 2019
Viktor Hovland secures first PGA TOUR card via Korn Ferry Tour Finals
With the Korn Ferry Tour season behind us and the end of the PGA TOUR offseason rapidly approaching, graduates from The 25 and The Finals 25 are gearing up for the first event of the 2019-20 season, A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier.
Rookies from this graduating class should feel confident in their games translating to the next level, as last season saw three rookies win on TOUR after graduating via The 25 or The Finals 25.
Last season’s The 25 winner, Sungjae Im, parlayed his fully exempt status on TOUR into a spot in the TOUR Championship and eventual T19 finish on the FedExCup.
Here are the top-10 PGA TOUR rookies to watch, after successfully earning 2019-20 TOUR membership via the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour.
1. Viktor Hovland. The star-in-the-making out of Oklahoma State was one of the top storylines this summer after turning professional. Along with Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa, Hovland became a household name over the last six weeks of the PGA TOUR Regular Season, highlighted by a fourth-place finish at the Wyndham Championship. Unlike his compadres, Hovland failed to earn a TOUR card prior to the FedExCup Playoffs and proceeded to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. It didn’t take the 21-year-old long to join Wolff and Morikawa, however, as he finished T11-T2 in the first two Finals events to solidify his TOUR status.
BEST 2019 RESULT: 4 (Wyndham Championship)
2. Scottie Scheffler. There was no player on the Korn Ferry Tour who played as high-level, consistent golf in 2019 as Scheffler. The University of Texas graduate racked up two wins, 10 top-10s and missed just four cuts over the course of the season. He also led the Tour in birdies and scoring average during his rookie campaign, taking the No. 1 spot on both The 25 and The Finals 25 to earn fully exempt status on TOUR next season.
BEST 2019 RESULT: WON (Evans Scholars Invitational, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship)
Scottie Scheffler earns fully exempt TOUR status via 2019 Korn Ferry Tour
3. Kristoffer Ventura. Ventura began the season with conditional status on the Korn Ferry Tour after playing poorly at Q-School as a result of an appendectomy. He made only one start prior to June, before a T3 finish at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation set up his season. After that, the 24-year-old went on a tear, winning twice in a four-week span and adding another third-place finish at the Regular Season finale. Now the Norwegian reunites with his former college teammates Wolff and Hovland for his rookie PGA TOUR campaign.
BEST 2019 RESULT: WON (Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Chevrolet)
4. Tom Lewis. Lewis’ time on the Korn Ferry Tour was short lived, but he made it count. The Englishman decided at the eleventh hour to play in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance -- his first and only start on the Korn Ferry Tour -- and proceeded to win the event by five strokes. The win secured the No. 63 player in the world a PGA TOUR card and leaves him with plenty of options for the 2019-20 season as he also has status on the European Tour.
BEST 2019 RESULT: WON (Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance)
5. Harry Higgs. The affable Higgs picked up where he left off after winning the PGA Tour Latinoamérica Order of Merit in 2018. Armed with a silky putting stroke, deft touch around the greens and his signature Wayfarer sunglasses, Higgs had an excellent rookie season on the Korn Ferry Tour in which he only missed four cuts (just one coming after May) and culminated with a win at the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper. Higgs’ consistency will serve him well at the next level.
BEST 2019 RESULT: WON (Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper)
6. Doug Ghim. Ghim provided one of the lasting images of the Korn Ferry Tour season as he unleashed a huge fist pump after making a putt on the 72nd hole of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance to secure his first PGA TOUR card. The former Masters low amateur played steady golf all season, ranking 14th in scoring average, but struggled to lock up his card coming down the stretch of the Regular Season. But three-straight solid weeks during the Finals were enough to get Ghim to the next level.
BEST 2019 RESULT: T3 (Country Club de Bogota Championship)
Doug Ghim comments after securing PGA TOUR card at Korn Ferry Tour Championship
7. Maverick McNealy. McNealy had a solid season in 2019 after an up-and-down 2018 rookie campaign on the Korn Ferry Tour. The Stanford alum hovered around a spot in The 25 all season before a third-place finish at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae propelled him solidly into The 25. A made cut was all he needed at the Regular Season finale to earn a spot on the PGA TOUR.
BEST 2019 RESULT: 2 (LECOM Suncoast Classic)
8. Michael Gligic. The 29-year-old has been a professional for 11 years, but in 2019 Gligic finally broke through and got to the PGA TOUR. On the strength of a win in Panama early in the season, the Canadian was able to lock up his card several weeks before the end of the Regular Season.
BEST 2019 RESULT: WON (Panama Championship)
9. Scott Harrington. Was there a better story in golf in 2019 than Harrington securing his first PGA TOUR card at his hometown event, the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz? The hug he shared with his wife Jenn -- who was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 -- on the 18th green at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club will be replayed for years to come. After taking time off in 2018 to be with Jenn, the 38-year-old Harrington came back in 2019 with a strong campaign that included four top-10s. None proved more important than the second-place finish in Portland, however, as he locked up his first TOUR card.
BEST 2019 RESULT: 2 (WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz)
Scott and Jenn Harrington moved by support for her cancer battle
10. Ben Taylor. After coming up short of a TOUR card in 2018 despite an early-season win, Taylor was able to get the job done in the Finals with a T2 finish at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. Taylor had a solid showing on the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour with nine top-25s, and he ranked inside the top-50 in putting average and birdies.
BEST 2019 RESULT: T2 (Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship)