We recently highlighted three of the best players to watch out for in 2022, and we are going to conclude our list with some more players to look out for today. In 2020-21, the PGA TOUR’s leaderboards were dominated by new names. Every player’s ‘next move’ in their career is different. Obtaining a PGA TOUR card matches that criteria nicely for some. Others may be aiming for their first PGA TOUR triumph, a spot in the FedExCup Playoffs, a win at THE PLAYERS, or a major championship. Which players have proved that they are ready to take their “next steps” in 2022? We looked at the data to see which players are most likely to reclassify in professional golf this season.
Last season, only five players on the PGA TOUR were in the top 30 in both Strokes Gained: Putting – Abraham Ancer, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Jason Kokrak, and Patrick Cantlay. Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Each of those five men qualified for the TOUR Championship and won at least once throughout the season.
Davis Riley did something statistically similar on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021. However, it’s not the only comparison. Riley and Lee Hodges were the only golfers in the top 30 in total driving and putts per green in regulation.
Riley was a statistical force throughout the bag on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021, winning twice. Riley was fourth in birdie average, hit more than 70% of his greens in regulation, and was seventh overall. Riley was the hottest player in the KFT for the first few months of the 2021 season. The Alabama product won both before and after the COVID-19 hiatus.
Since May, he hasn’t been in the top 10, so he’ll be flying under the radar in his maiden Tour season. But make no mistake: he can be the greatest of the group.
2022 won’t only be about new emerging talent. Some golfers will look to build on last season, while others will look to maintain their standards. And perhaps for this player, it will be about a resurgence that appears to have already started.
The Northern Irishman’s most recent major triumph was in 2014, which isn’t good enough for a player of his caliber. McIlroy was so dissatisfied with his performance that he enlisted the assistance of renowned coach Pete Cowen. McIlroy won the Wells Fargo Championship shortly after they began working together, but it was a triumph that came from a beautiful week on the greens.
McIlroy’s lowest point occurred at the Ryder Cup when he was benched for a session for the first time in his career. He left Whistling Straits and thought it was time to return to his roots, trusting his innate abilities. He won the CJ Cup right away and stated that he would be working with long-time coach Michael Bannon once more. In 2022, it will be exciting to follow his improvement.
The Northern Irishman has four Major titles under his belt and is vying for a fifth, ideally the Masters, to complete a career Grand Slam. The bad news is that golfers tend to win Majors in sweet areas, and while many add a last flourish, just a few manage to add a second surge of success. The good news is that just a handful of players have accomplished as much as McIlroy has at such a young age. So he has some time on his hands – not a lot, given that he’ll be 33 in May – but it’s enough.
Brandon Hagy must be motivated by seeing former college teammate Max Homa win for the third time in three years. After all, Hagy knocks it well over 20 yards past Max off the tee and recalls thrashing Homa at Berkeley. Since turning pro in 2014, the 30-year-old Californian has shown off his abilities but has not maintained any form of sustained momentum. Until this summer, that is.
Brandon finished in the top six at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and Barracuda Championship and played in the final group at the John Deere Classic. Brandon’s official coming-out party could come in 2021-22, based on Hagy’s trajectory over the last three seasons.
He’s already established himself as one of the game’s most potent hitters. Hagy, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 175 pounds, may not be as intimidating as others, but his swing generates an incredible ball speed of more than 190 miles per hour. Hagy attributes much of his athleticism to his youth, which included a lot of football and basketball. When he began working out actively after his freshman year at the University of California-Berkeley, he saw significant distance improvements. Brady Riggs, Hagy’s swing coach, kept encouraging him to grasp the ball and rip it.
He has the potential to win a major championship. On the PGA Tour, he’s already a winner. He won the Fortinet Championship by one stroke against Maverick McNealy in September. He’s on his way to becoming golf’s next big star. It’s unlikely that his triumph at the Fortinet Championship in September will be his last.
Over the year, Homa’s prominent personality will undoubtedly win him, additional followers. But, to take the next step toward stardom, you must compete in the big championships. Homa is a grinder, a golf obsessive who has worked his way into the top 25 players in the world. That’s incredible, and it also serves as a reminder of how far he’s gone in the last 24 months.