Xander Schauffele captured PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors last season thanks to two victories, including the Tour Championship. Schauffele topped what was an impressive 2016-17 rookie class – Mackenzie Hughes, Cody Gribble, Wesley Bryan and Grayson Murray notched victories last season as rookies, and Patrick Cantlay advanced to the Tour Championship.
So who’s next?
Twenty-three rookies will compete on the PGA Tour in 2017-18, and 22 of them teed it up in the season-opening Safeway Open.
According to the PGA Tour, a new member shall not be eligible for the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year award if he has previously played in more than seven official PGA Tour money events as a professional in any prior season. Jon Rahm fell victim to that rule last season, and this season first-time member Beau Hossler will be ineligible for the award because the former Texas standout made eight Tour starts last season.
Here are five rookies to keep an eye on this season:
What stands out: The former Alabama player blends a nice combination of power and putting. He ranked third in driving distance on the Web.com Tour last season by averaging 321.9 yards off the tee. He also led the tour in putting average and birdie average. Has never teed it up in a PGA Tour event.
What stands out: The former Georgia player has length, ranking fourth on the Web.com Tour in driving distance at 321 yards. He nearly missed out on earning his PGA Tour card, but a pair of top-6 showings in the Finals changed that. Finished T-11 at 2017 Valspar Championship, his only PGA Tour start.
What stands out: The Stetson product burst onto the main stage by qualifying for the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. He also won his first Web.com Tour event last season, one of five total top-5s, while leading the tour in total driving and ranking third in both ballstriking and all-around.
What stands out: 2010 U.S. Amateur champion out of Oklahoma State has made 30 career PGA Tour starts, yet never has made more than seven in a season. He won the Web.com Tour Finals opener this year to earn his card, and is a winner on the European and Challenge tours. He’s an elite driver of the ball and strong putter.
What stands out: The 2016 NCAA individual champion from Oregon, Wise might have the highest ceiling of any of the rookies this season. He’s won on both the Mackenzie and Web.com tours, and led the Web.com Tour in eagles last season. He’s quite inconsistent, but his best is exceptional.
(Note: This story appears on the Oct. 9, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)