Another dramatic PGA Tour season is in the record books. After winning the season’s last two events, Viktor Hovland finished on top of the FedEx Cup points list, ahead of closest challengers Xander Schauffele, Wyndham Clark, and Rory McIlroy.
Meanwhile, the DP World Tour is also winding down through September. The 2023 Ryder Cup becomes a focal point for US and European golfers, but a new season lies beyond that.
The likes of Hovland, McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Jon Rahm will be strong again, but who will challenge their dominance? Here are some of the world‘s best up-and-coming golfers to watch out for next term.
1. Sahith Theegala
After a season of promise, California’s Sahith Theegala finished as the unluckiest golfer on Tour. A 31st-placed finish in the FedEx Cup points list meant he missed out on the Tour Championship by the narrowest of margins. The 25-year-old can still consider this to be a breakthrough campaign with a win in the QBE shootout team event and a solo ninth at the US Masters.
Targets for next season: An individual tournament win and a place in the FedEx Top 30.
2. Ludvig Aberg
Some huge talent is coming out of Europe right now, and PGA Tour watchers may already be familiar with Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg. The 23-year-old graduate of Texas Tech won the Tom Hogan Award two years running and became the first golfer to earn fully exempt status on the PGA Tour.
Aberg switched to the DP World Tour as he hunted down a place on the European Ryder Cup team. In only his sixth appearance, he won the European Masters after a stunning final round.
Targets: A Debut PGA Tour win and a Top Ten in any Major.
3. Sam Burns
Sam Burns is already a multiple-winner on Tour but lost momentum last season. After winning three PGA tournaments in 2021/22, he was expected to kick on, but his only success last term came in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Targets: More Tour wins and a genuine Major challenge.
4. Rasmus Hojgaard
It’s back to Europe now for one of the finest golfers that Denmark has ever produced. Rasmus Hojgaard turned professional in 2019, but this has been his breakthrough season. Victory at the Made in Himmerland in July saw him become the first native winner of the Danish Open, and he’s been consistent throughout the campaign.
Next term, golf fans in the US may see a little more of this talented 22-year-old.
Targets: To Compete on the PGA Tour and to improve on a best in a Major of 79th in the 2021 PGA Championship.
5. Nicolai Hojgaard
You’re not seeing double, and we haven’t simply hit ‘cut-and-paste.’ Nicolai Hojgaard is the twin brother of Rasmus, and both will challenge for Major honors in the following years. Nicolai won twice on the European Tour in 2021 and 2022, but he’s been far more consistent this season.
A tie for 23rd at the Open Championship in July is a sign of better things to come.
Targets: Similar to his brother: Competing on the PGA Tour and a threat in Majors.
6. Eric Cole
It’s tough to think of a player competing for the Rookie of the Year trophy at the age of 35. Eric Cole, however, is a different type of golfer. He may be seen as a late developer, but Cole has been a regular winner on minor tours for many years.
A tie for third place at the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour Championship earned him his first PGA card, and he’s taken full advantage. Highlights this season include a narrow playoff loss to Chris Kirk at the Honda Classic and a tie for 15th at the PGA Championship.
Targets: That first PGA Tour victory.
7. Alex Fitzpatrick
Golf fans in the United States will already be aware of Matt Fitzpatrick, the Englishman who won the US Open in 2022. Matt’s brother Alex competes on the DP World Tour, where he’s found some consistent form in the season’s closing weeks.
There will be a temptation to join the PGA Tour, but post-competition interviews indicate that Alex is constantly compared to his brother. He’d be wise to stay in Europe for now and build his own reputation.
Targets: Focus on the DP World Tour next season and claim that first tournament win.
8. Min Woo Lee
Australia has produced some top-class golfers over the years, and Min Woo Lee is the latest to challenge for top tournament prize money. A regular on the DP World Tour, he’s targeting a Top Ten finish in the Race to Dubai rankings.
Lee has also featured on the PGA Tour, and a tie for fifth at the US Open in June shows he’s ready for the step up.
Targets: Regular appearances on the PGA Tour.
9. Wyndham Clark
While it may be obvious to suggest the reigning US Open champion is a player to watch next season, there should be much more to come from Wyndham Clark. Some Major winners fade into obscurity following an isolated success, but Clark has the quality to kick on from his victory at the Los Angeles Country Club golf course in June.
He’d previously won the Wells Fargo Championship in May, and a third-place finish in the FedEx points list suggests that Wyndham Clark is reaching his peak.
Targets: More of the same – consistency and Tour wins.
10. Tom Kim
It would always be tough for Tom Kim to repeat his heroics of 2022. Victory at the Wyndham Championship last August kept him in the FedEx playoffs, and he followed that up with a win at the Shriners Children’s Open in October, kicking off the new season in the best possible way.
2023 has seen a battle with injury, but he’s still only 21 and has the quality for a much more productive campaign.
Targets: Stay fit and claim more wins, including a Major challenge.
11. Tom McKibbin
The long wait for the next Rory McIlroy may finally be over. Northern Ireland has produced another golfing star in the shape of Tom McKibbin who has enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2023.
At the age of just 20, McKibbin claimed his first professional win, with victory at the Porsche European Open in June. To prove that wasn’t a fluke, the youngster shot a final round 62 at the European Masters in September. A big future awaits, but he may need to be patient for now.
Targets: Focus on the DP World Tour and seek out more wins.
12. Beau Hossler
He turned professional in 2016 but finished another season without a professional win of any kind. Beau Hossler’s stats suggest that he’s underachieved, and the best finish in a Major of a tie for 29th in the 2012 US Open backs that up.
He’s still only 28 and a respectable 58th place in the FedEx race suggests that 2023/24 could be better. There is talent there, and Hossler may just need an extra push.
Targets: Challenging the leaderboards and a top ten Major finish.
13. Nick Taylor
He’s no stranger to the PGA Tour, and Canada’s Nick Taylor has already picked up three wins on the circuit. In June, he became the first home player to win the Canadian Open in 69 years, and that victory inspired a 25th-place finish in the FedEx standings.
He’s 35 now, but last season may hint that Nick Taylor’s most productive years are yet to come.
Targets: A big win in a competitive event.
14. Akshay Bhatia
One of the brightest young stars of American golf, Akshay Bhatia is still only 2, and he will head into the new season on the back of a 102nd place in the FedEx rankings. That’s a respectable return, but it leaves room for improvement, and we will see much more of this California native next term.
In July, he won his first PGA Tour event at the Barracuda Championship. While the field was weakened due to the Open Championship being played at the same time, Bhatia will take confidence from that maiden victory.
Targets: A follow up Tour win next season.