10 PGA Tour rookies to watch in 2018-19

Source: Golfweek
By Brentley Romine

A new PGA Tour season means a new crop of rookies looking to find their footing on the big tour. With the first event of the fall, the Safeway Open, having wrapped up Sunday, here are 10 rookies to watch this season:

1. Anders Albertson

Age: 25
College: Georgia Tech
Years pro: 3
World ranking: 245
Buzz: Improved all aspects of his game this past season on the Web.com Tour, and the most noticeable improvement was his putting. Albertson finished fifth in putting average last season on the Web.com Tour after ending up outside the top 100 in his first two seasons. He won the Lincoln Land Championship last season en route to finishing eighth on the Web.com tour regular-season money list. He then added two top-10s in the Finals.

2. Cameron Champ

Age: 23
College: Texas A&M
Years pro: 1
World ranking: 235
Buzz: The long-hitting Sacramento, Calif., native led the Web.com Tour in driving distance last season at 343.1 yards. He also was fourth in greens in regulation and second in scoring average. After a slow start to last season, he turned it on in the summer with five consecutive top-10 finishes capped with a win at the Utah Championship. That helped him finish sixth on the Web.com Tour money list. His best PGA Tour finish in seven career starts remains his T-32 at the 2017 U.S. Open.

3. Wyndham Clark

Age: 24
College: Oregon
Years pro: 1
World ranking: 326
Buzz: He didn’t win on the Web.com Tour last season, but he was able to notch four top-5 finishes to end up 16th on the regular-season money list. He has made eight career PGA Tour starts with a best finish of 17th at last season’s Sanderson Farms Championship. Was a Haskins Award contender during his senior year at Oregon as he led the Ducks to the championship match at the 2017 NCAA Championship.

4. Cameron Davis

Age: 23
College: N/A
Years pro: 2
World ranking: 99
Buzz: While the young Aussie won the Nashville Golf Open last season on the Web.com Tour, he didn’t finish inside the top 25 on the tour’s money list. However, he earned his card with two top-3s in the Finals. Davis is a promising talent who won the 2017 Australian Open and before that, as an amateur, captured the Australian Amateur and Eisenhower Trophy. He also was T-39 at this year’s British Open. Last season on the Web.com Tour, he ranked in the top 10 in driving distance, greens in regulation and putting average.

5. Kramer Hickok

Age: 26
College: Texas
Years pro: 3
World ranking: 129
Buzz: He was a member of Texas’ 2012 NCAA title-winning team and more recently was better known for being Jordan Spieth’s roommate. Now, though, Hickok is starting to make a name for himself. He finished 23rd on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, then improved his priority ranking with a win at the DAP Championship, the second Finals event, and a T-8 showing at the Web.com Tour Championship. He’s a strong and accurate driver of the golf ball and hits a lot of greens.

6. Sungjae Im

Age: 20
College: N/A
Years pro: 3
World ranking: 97
Buzz: This South Korean prodigy already has been pro for three years yet is still not old enough to drink in the U.S. He is fully exempt on the PGA Tour this season after finishing first on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list. He won the season opener in the Bahamas before finishing second the next week. He added two more runner-up finishes before winning the regular-season finale in Portland. He is the third highest-ranked South Korean in the world, behind only Ben An and Si Woo Kim. He’s not overly long off the tee but is a strong putter.

7. Hank Lebioda

Age: 24
College: Florida State
Years pro: 2
World ranking: 393
Buzz: One of the better stories in this year’s rookie class, Lebioda made his first ever PGA Tour start at the Safeway Open. He suffers from Crohn’s Disease and supports the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. He earned the 25th and final card out of the Web.com Tour regular season thanks to four top-10s and seven top-25s.

8. Jose de Jesus Rodriguez

Age: 37
College: N/A
Years pro: 11
World ranking: 283
Buzz: Mexico native started his pro career on the Mexican Tour and has spent several seasons on the Web.com Tour, Mackenzie Tour and PGA Tour Latinoamerica. He is a two-time winner on the Mackenzie Tour and four-time winner on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. His first Web.com Tour win didn’t come until last season’s United Leasing and Finance Championship, a victory that helped him finish 12th on the money list and earn his PGA Tour card for the first time. He has made eight career PGA Tour starts, seven of them coming at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He is nicknamed “El Camaron,” or “The Shrimp.”

9. Chris Thompson

Age: 42
College: Kansas
Years pro: 19
World ranking: 345
Buzz: A two-time All-American for the Jayhawks, Thompson didn’t play his first full season on the Web.com Tour until 2007, eight years after turning pro. Two years later, he made just three starts on the developmental tour and didn’t make more than nine in any single year until last season, when he played 24 times and notched five top-10s to finish 20th on the money list and earn his PGA Tour card for the first time.

10. Chase Wright

Age: 29
College: Indiana
Years pro: 6
World ranking: 227
Buzz: Played three seasons on the Web.com Tour before losing status in 2017. He played the Mackenzie Tour that year and finished eighth on the money list thanks to a win and two other top-10s in 12 events. Last season on the Web.com Tour, Wright won the Rust-Oleum Championship en route to finishing ninth on the regular-season money list. He then capped his season with a T-3 finish at the Web.com Tour Championship. His only PGA Tour start prior to this season came at the 2012 McGladrey Classic, now known as the RSM Classic.

Note: A player’s rookie season is defined as the season in which he becomes a PGA Tour member – or receives special temporary membership – and plays in 10 or more events as a member or finishes in the top 125 in FedEx Cup points. Also, players are not eligible to be a rookie if they have previously played in more than seven PGA Tour events as a professional in any prior season. Gwk

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