Whether they’ve arrived from Australia, Thailand, Chile, Korea or the United States, these are seven of the best newcomers to watch on the PGA Tour during the 2018/19 season.
CURTIS LUCK (AUSTRALIA)
The West Australian – and former World No.1 amateur – recently finished 16th in the Web.com Tour finals series to secure one of the 25 available positions onto the PGA Tour.
Luck, who won the US Amateur and Asia-Pacific Amateur in 2016, reached two-under-par at the Safeway Open, missing the cut on the number. But the 22-year-old is taking a philosophical approach to the year.
“Technically, I’m doing an apprenticeship; I’ve just clicked over my first year of being a pro,” Luck said recently. “Most people who get to high-paying jobs in regular industries take years, if not decades, to get there.
“My family and people around me have given me a realistic view on how long things can take.”
CAMERON DAVIS (AUSTRALIA)
The defending Australian Open champion punched his ticket onto the PGA Tour for 2018/19 after finishing sixth in the Web.com Tour finals series.
Davis, 23, won the Nashville Golf Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation and recently told Golf Australia magazine that he was somewhat surprised by his efforts this year.
“It has happened very quickly,” said Davis, who finished 34th on the secondary tour’s money list. “I’ve had plenty of good weeks throughout the year … It’s kind of strange because I’ve had a couple of weeks where everything went my way but it didn’t feel like the sort of year that would put me on the PGA Tour. But when you play well at the right time and things go your way, the opportunities come.”
The Sydneysider, who finished 39th at The Open Championship at Carnoustie in July, has started his PGA Tour career very well, sharing 17th place at the season-opening Safeway Open over the weekend.
KIRADECH APHIBARNRAT (THAILAND)
The popular Thai is already a household name. But his reputation is likely to grow after he became the first Thai player to earn playing rights on the world’s leading professional circuit.
Aphibarnrat earned his card through the non-member category after his top-five finishes at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
The 29-year-old will kick off his season at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after receiving a sponsor’s exemption and is eager to return to TPC Kuala Lumpur, where he won the Malaysian Open in 2013.
“I am very thankful to receive a sponsor’s exemption and it will motivate me further as it is held on a golf course which I am very familiar with and have enjoyed success there over the years,” Aphibarnrat said.
CAMERON CHAMP (USA)
He possesses one of the best sporting names on the planet – and it’s one you should probably get used to hearing because he fits the mould perfectly for the modern PGA Tour, with his prestigious power and accuracy off the tee.
Champ is so impressive with driver in hand that Sean Foley (noted swing instructor) recently said: “You have no idea how straight he hits it. Imagine Hunter Mahan from an accuracy standpoint, but 30 yards longer than Dustin Johnson.”
The 23-year-old Californian secured his PGA Tour card for 2018/19 after winning the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour and moving to third on the money list.
“It’s crazy to think about,” Champ said. “Six or seven weeks ago I was 70th on the money list – and then I had a good five- or six-week stretch and now I’m here. It’s just amazing.”
KRAMER HICKOK (USA)
The good friend – and former roommate – to Jordan Spieth was the Player of the Year on the Canadian Tour in 2017 and finished second behind Sungjae Im on the Web.com Tour money list this year.
Hickok won the second event (DAP Championship) of the Web.com Tour finals series having already secured his PGA Tour card.
“This just means the world to me,” Hickok said. “One of my goals was to get my PGA Tour card and within that to get a win on the Web.com Tour. It means a lot knowing I can look back knowing I won there … Now I know I can do it on the PGA Tour.”
The 26-year-old got his season underway at the Safeway Open last week, but missed the cut by two strokes after reaching one-under-par.
SUNGJAE IM (SOUTH KOREA)
The 20-year-old finished on top of the 2018 Web.com Tour Regular Season money list
and will be fully exempt on the PGA Tour for 2018/19.
Im captured the first and final events of the season on the Web.com Tour and never relinquished his position on top of the money list. The South Korean also posted three runner-ups amongst eight top-10s and made 20 of 25 cuts.
Im clearly had no issues transferring his good play onto the main circuit, finishing fourth at the Safeway Open over the weekend. He should once again find himself near the pointy end of the leaderboard at the CJ Cup on his home course next week.
JOAQUIN NIEMANN (CHILE)
The Chilean managed to secure his PGA Tour card after recording four top-10s in only eight professional appearances.
Niemann finished T5 at the Greenbrier Classic in July to move to 414 FedEx Cup points, which was well above the projected total needed to finish 125th or better by the end of the first finals event (Wyndham Championship).
RIGHT: Niemann secured his PGA Tour card in July and bypassed the Web.com Tour finals series. PHOTO: Getty Images.
“Maybe the best day of my life! @PGATOUR MEMBER,” Niemann wrote on Twitter.
The 19-year-old was able to bypass the Web.com Tour finals and, despite missing the cut, finished at even par at the Safeway Open last week.