At this stage of the year, all of the talk in the golfing world is about the remaining FedEx Cup tournaments. While these are definitely important, it’s also a good time of the year to reflect on the performance of players that aren’t quite at the front of the field. It can take years for even the best players to climb the rankings, and it can be particularly hard for rookies to get noticed in golf. If you aren’t a breakout star like Jordan Spieth, then it’s all too easy to fly under the radar.There have obviously been some great performances from golfers all throughout the field this year, and the following are two of the most impressive rookies that we’ve watched throughout the season. Not only do they deserve credit for how they were able to adapt to the highest level of professional golf, but they will also be two of the most interesting golfers to watch in the future.
Wesley Bryan is the prime example of a player who took some time to reach the PGA Tour. Although he went professional in 2012, Bryan didn’t receive his PGA Tour card until after the 2016 Web.com Tour season. His 2016 year was impressive, with him winning three times on the junior tour. He won at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, at the El Bosque Mexico Championship, and at the Digital Ally Open. He warned his promotion to the PGA Tour after ten other golfers. The same year, he was also awarded the Web.com Tour Player of the Year Award.Some players take a few years before they win in the PGA Tour, but Wesley Bryan didn’t waste any time. On April 16th of this year, he won at the RBC Heritage Tournament at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. This tournament is amongst a group of give unique tournaments on the PGA Tour that are invitational. There are only 132 players in the field, which is reduced from the 156 players in open tournaments. Being an invitational tournament, there was no Monday qualifying, which could have helped reduce some pressure from Wesley Bryan. Even if it did, his win was all down to his own skill, and it was a close win, making it even more impressive. Being able to keep his composure and come out a single stroke ahead of veteran runner up Luke Donald (17 professional wins), is something that Bryan should be given a lot of credit for. Wesley Bryan made it into the FedEx Cup, placing T54 in The Northern Trust and T69 in the Dell Technologies Championship. He’s currently ranked 37th in the FedEx Cup, with 1,080 points. Although he only won a single tournament this year, he has showed plenty of consistency. At the John Deere Classic he placed T3, and at the Genesis Open he finished T4. He has been in the Top 10 for 5 of this year’s tournaments, and has an official money count of just under $2.5 Million. Overall, this has been a seriously impressive year for Wesley Bryan, and his ability to come into the PGA Tour as a rookie and then win a tournament, will make him contender for one of the best rookies of the year, and he’ll be a very interesting player to watch in 2018.
Less than a year younger than Wesley Bryan, Mackenzie Hughes was another one of the young rookies who impressed us this year. This Canadian golfer went professional in 2012, just like Wesley Bryan. Unlike Bryan, however, Mackenzie only one a single tournament in the Web.Com Tour. Mackenzie hasn’t won this year, but he did win during the season. During November of 2016, Hughes won at the RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia. The most impressive thing about this win was that first place went down to a playoff. Huges was able to beat Blayne Barber, Billy Horschel, Henrik Norlander, and Vamilo Villegas. He won by making par on the third extra hole of the tournament. His final result at the course was -17 to par. Hughes competed in all of the major championships in 2017, but missed the halfway cut at the Masters Tournament and at the PGA Championship. Although he wasn’t able to recreate his early season win, he still put in some impressive performances during the year. At the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he placed T10. And at the Dell Technologies Championship he placed an impressive T13. That has enabled him to rank as high as 31st in the FedEx Cup, which is slightly higher than Wesley Bryan. His scoring average of 71.031 is respectable, and we can expect to see his Official World Golf Ranking of 111 to climb after the end of the playoffs.Hughes is a golfer that is full of confidence, even if the results don’t always come his way. Earlier this year, when he was questioned about who the best rookie is on the PGA Tour, he had no hesitation in naming himself. In May of 2017 he told reporters that “I’ll make a case for myself [being the top rookie]. I’ve had a pretty good year so far, and I’ve learned a lot. I’m excited about the rest of the year, and I think I have a lot of great golf in me.”We would have to agree with the last part of his statement, and he showed maturity throughout the rest of the season, and has continued to do so in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Hughes might not be ready to consistently place at the front of the field, but just like Wesley Bryan, he’s going to be one of the players to watch in 2018.