Five PGA Tour golfers to watch out for in 2023

By Sports Desk November 09, 2022

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 Arabia-backed breakaway competition 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.


Tom Kim 

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 last month has got Kim's new 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 him fifth in the PGA Tour this season and if his opening six months are anything to go by, it could be quite the season for the world number 14.

Sepp Straka

The tall, big-hitting Straka is much the opposite of the aforementioned 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 via playoff 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 last month 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.

Sahith Theegala

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 skillet, 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.

His 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 are evidence enough of the prolific scoring capabilities that Theegala possesses.

Cameron Davis

Unassuming Aussie 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 President 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 last month 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 last year to 53rd on the Tour this season.

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.

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    The United States ended Europe’s dominance to win the Ryder Cup for the first time in nine years on this day in 2008.

    Paul Azinger’s team claimed victory by an emphatic 16.5–11.5 score at Valhalla Golf Club, with Jim Furyk hitting the winning point on the 17th to beat Miguel Angel Jimenez.

    It ended Europe’s run of winning three consecutive Ryder Cups and left team captain Nick Faldo facing plenty of scrutiny for his controversial picks on the final day in Kentucky.

    The USA established a lead from the morning foursomes on Friday and concluded day one with a three-point lead following the afternoon four-ball.

    An evenly contested day two saw America hold a 9-7 advantage at the end of Saturday going into the singles matches on Sunday.

    Europe team captain Faldo decided to bottom-load his best players for the Sunday singles, with Padraig Harrington, the Open and USPGA champion, held back for the last match.

    Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were amongst the last groups out at Valhalla.

    It backfired badly for Faldo with Anthony Kim beating Sergio Garcia in the opening singles before Kenny Perry, Boo Weekley and JB Holmes got USA on a winning streak.

    It left the fate of the Ryder Cup down to Furyk, who beat Jimenez two and one to ensure America got their hands back on the trophy with McDowell, Poulter, Westwood and Harrington still out on the green.

    “We are talking about fractions between these two teams. If we could get it to the last four guys – that was the risk I guess we took,” Faldo reflected.

    “We gave our heart and soul. The golf was fantastic and this particular week they have done us. Everybody has given 100 per cent and that’s all you can do.”

  • Ryder Cup by the numbers Ryder Cup by the numbers

    Europe take on the United States in the Ryder Cup in Rome from September 29.

    Here, the PA news agency takes a statistical look at the contest.

    3 – this year’s renewal at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club is only the third time the competition has been staged in continental Europe, following 2018 in Paris and 1997 at Valderrama.

    44 – it is the 44th staging of the Ryder Cup overall.

    27 – wins for the United States, who dominated 18-3 against Great Britain and Ireland up to 1977 but trail 11-9 in the modern-day contest against Europe. There have been two ties, in 1969 and 1989.

    14 1/2 – points required to win the trophy outright. America would retain the trophy with a 14-14 draw.

    12 – American Phil Mickelson holds the record for the most Ryder Cup appearances.

    28 1/2 – Europe’s Sergio Garcia has won the most points in the event’s history. He is also the only teenager to play in the contest.

    6 – holes in one in Ryder Cup history, the first in 1973 by Peter Butler and the most recent in 2006 by Scott Verplank – the only American to achieve the feat – and Europe’s Paul Casey.

    8 & 7 – the record margin of victory in an 18-hole match, by Americans Tom Kite over Howard Clark in 1989 and Fred Couples over Ian Woosnam in 1997. The European record is 7 & 5.

    15 – Spanish duo Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal played as a Ryder Cup pairing on a record 15 occasions, winning 12 points.

    6 – the USA team contains six of the world’s top 10. That includes number one Scottie Scheffler, although Europe have the next three in the rankings in Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland.

    81 – Europe’s Nicolai Hojgaard is the lowest-ranked player in Rome, one place lower than Europe team-mate Ludvig Aberg. Rickie Fowler, at 25, is the lowest-ranked American.

    16 – world number 16 Cameron Young is the highest-ranked player to miss out on this year’s event.

    10 1/2 – points won by both captains in their respective playing careers. Europe’s Luke Donald played 15 matches across four European wins in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012 while American skipper Zach Johnson played 16 times in five appearances from 2006 to 2016.

  • Can home advantage and brilliant Ludvig Aberg boost Europe? 5 talking points Can home advantage and brilliant Ludvig Aberg boost Europe? 5 talking points

    Europe will attempt to regain the Ryder Cup from the United States at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club from September 29-October 1.

    Here, the PA news agency looks at five talking points ahead of the biennial contest, which the USA won by a record 19-9 margin in 2021.

    Will home advantage prove crucial once more?

    Seven of the last eight contests have been won by the home side, the exception being the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 where Europe recovered from 10-4 down to pull off a remarkable victory.

    Nine of the US team made a recent scouting trip to Marco Simone as they bid to secure a first win on European soil since 1993, but many of the European side have contested the Italian Open at the venue over the last three years, with Robert MacIntyre (2022) and Nicolai Hojgaard (2021) winning the title.

    Can wild cards justify their picks?

    Both captains opted to have six wild cards at their disposal and there was inevitably controversy as Zach Johnson selected an out-of-form Justin Thomas and Luke Donald left out Adrian Meronk, despite his Italian Open win in May.

    Thomas in particular will be under scrutiny after being selected ahead of the likes of Keegan Bradley, Lucas Glover and Cameron Young, although he boasts a strong record in team competitions and was fifth on his most recent PGA Tour start.

    Will Ludvig Aberg live up to his billing?

    Aberg has made the fastest transition ever from amateur golf to the Ryder Cup after only turning professional in June, the 23-year-old winning the final qualifying event in Switzerland and being selected by Donald hours later.

    He also led the BMW PGA Championship after 54 holes but struggled to a closing 76, a result which could be a blessing in disguise if it cools the hype surrounding the supremely talented Swede.

    What impact will the lack of LIV players have?

    Brooks Koepka is the only member of the Saudi-funded breakaway in Rome, the five-time major winner getting a wild card after dropping out of the automatic qualifying places after the final event.

    Dustin Johnson – who won all five of his matches in 2021 – and Bryson DeChambeau could arguably have strengthened the US side, but the likes of Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood have shown precious little to suggest they would have come close to qualifying for the European team.

    Will Europe’s big guns fire?

    Donald demanding more from star names

    Europe can boast three of the world’s top four and 2022 US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick is also in the top 10, but that is no guarantee of success. Fitzpatrick has lost all five of his matches to date, while Viktor Hovland halved two and lost three at Whistling Straits, where only Jon Rahm, Garcia and Tyrrell Hatton won more than a single point.

    Rory McIlroy’s last two Ryder Cups have yielded three points from eight matches and Luke Donald will need more from his star names if Europe are to regain the trophy.

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