The world of golf is ever-changing, but the last year has arguably transformed the sport.
LIV Golf’s brash and brazen entrance made a splash, and the Saudi-backed breakaway series has taken some of the PGA Tour’s best players.
Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith and many others may have departed, but from the rubble emerge a burgeoning crop of young golfers, brimming with talent and hungry to stamp their name on the game.
With the new PGA Tour season under way, here are five golfers to watch out for in 2023.
South Korean Kim, who turned professional aged 15, has only 11 regular PGA Tour starts yet has managed to become the first player since Tiger Woods to win two tournaments before the age of 21.
His maiden triumph at the Wyndham Championship in August came after an opening hole quad bogey, but he finished with a spectacular final-round 61 to win by five strokes.
A star-making display at the Presidents Cup followed by victory at the Shriners Open in October got Kim’s season off to a flyer.
His game is the antithesis to many modern stars; not rooted in destructive power off the tee but, rather, in accuracy and finesse befitting of a player well beyond his years.
Kim’s strokes gained statistics from tee to green rank sixth this season, and if his opening seven months are anything to go by, it could be quite the campaign for the world number 15.
The tall, big-hitting Straka is much the opposite of Kim but is looking to build on his impressive end to last season as well.
Having won his first PGA Tour event at the Honda Classic in February, Straka endured a poor second half of the season before coming to life in the closing stages.
Despite defeat to Will Zalatoris in the opening FedEx Cup playoff event, the world number 27 went on to finish seventh in the season-ending standings.
Consistency has often evaded the Georgia native but an early season second-place finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship suggests Straka may have brought his form from the FedEx Cup with him into the new season.
For the Austrian 29-year-old, a place in Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team should not be out of the question.
Theegala enjoyed a hugely successful debut season on the PGA Tour in 2021-22 and will be chasing his first victory this season.
The 24-year-old led the Tour in birdies made (433) and possesses a complete and competitive skill set, which allowed him to catch fire and challenge at the top of the leaderboard on numerous occasions.
An agonising double bogey on the 72nd hole at the Travelers Championship in June saw him finish second to Xander Schauffele by two strokes in a season that also featured a T3 at the Phoenix Open and a T5 at The Memorial.
Theegala’s accuracy off the tee represents perhaps the only major flaw in world number 53’s game, but two top-10 finishes in his opening four events this season, followed by a T2 at the RSM Classic shows the quality he possesses.
Australia’s Davis has the temperament, swing, look and feel of an elite golfer. Yet despite a maiden victory two seasons ago at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, he has so far been unable to take that next step.
An impressive outing at the Presidents Cup, however, has laid the foundations for what could be the true breakout year for the world number 66.
His best finish this season is a tie for 13th at the CJ Cup and a look at the underlying data suggests his all-around game is trending in the right direction.
Off the tee, his distance and strokes gained rank inside the top 45, while his putting has improved from 84th to 51st on the Tour.
There are only a few events to back up these numbers, but it feels like all the right pieces are coming together for Davis, and if that is the case, he is undoubtedly one to watch.
Having secured his first PGA Tour card this season, Montgomery has already earmarked himself as a player ready to impress in the opening tournaments of the new season.
With three top-10 and two top-15 finishes in his first five starts on the PGA Tour, the 27-year-old has built on his impressive campaign last year that saw him secure nine top-10 finishes in just 17 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour. He finished seventh and earned his PGA Tour card.
What Montgomery lacks in experience, he makes up for in supreme talent on the greens. The American is ranked 13th in the PGA Tour’s strokes-gained putting statistics this season, having been second last year on the Korn Ferry Tour for putts per round (27.9).
Montgomery is 62nd in the world rankings and should be set for a big year.
Source : Stadium Astro