There’s no rest for the wicked on the PGA Tour. The 2020-21 campaign comes to an end on September 5th with the Tour Championship final, and then less than a fortnight later, the new season begins in earnest at the Fortinet Championship in California.
The element of continuity is fantastic for the players, and particularly so for the up-and-coming candidates who are still very much learning their craft in the top tier of golf. The early season, in particular, tends to be an exciting time for those fresh-faced pros, with a number of the best players in the world tending to have some time off to recuperate from the campaign just gone. This is especially so in 2021, given that the Ryder Cup will be as tough physically and psychologically as it ever is.
So, the tail-end of this year and then into the start of 2022 will be an excellent time to keep an eye out for golf’s next generation of stars, and these five could certainly figure at the business end of PGA Tour events in that timeframe.
To offer an insight into the stratospheric rise of Will Zalatoris, he’s on the brink of entering the world’s top 30 ranked players despite not owning a PGA Tour card. How is that possible? Well, after shining on the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour, Zalatoris was invited to play in a number of PGA Tour events through his Special Temporary Membership status, earned by being so impressive when called up to the ‘big league’.
Indeed, how he’s made it count. In the past 12 months or so, the 25-year-old has finished solo second at The Masters and inside the top-10 of both the US Open and the PGA Championship, while serving up a catalog of other high-profile results. Zalatoris is currently staked at +3500 in 2022 Masters golf betting odds market and looks to be sublime value given his incredible rise from the amateur ranks to the upper echelons of golf. If that ascendance continues, who can stop him?
With a name like that, you might expect Maverick McNealy to be a TV detective that’s tough on crime, rather than a burgeoning PGA Tour star. However, the 25-year-old has been progressing nicely since being ranked as the number one amateur in the world, and while his rise has been less dramatic than Zalatoris’, McNealy is starting to look like a potential event winner on the TOUR.
Hailing from California, McNealy has performed well in events in his home state, with two of his best paydays coming at the Pebble Beach course. Furthermore, he’s shown the versatility to travel well with other fine efforts coming in the RBC Heritage (South Carolina) and the Honda Classic (Florida). This versatility will stand him in excellent stead for the rest of his PGA Tour career.
The 23-year-old is still very new to top-tier golf, and so we’re all still learning about his game. Yet what Doc Redman has shown so far is an outstanding iron game, and that’s often the foundation for a long career filled with success within the sport.
The former US Amateur champion already has top-20s to his name in the British Open and PGA Championship, and he also has a quartet of regular event finishes inside the top three, without yet breaking his trophy duck. That seems like a formality, and 2021-22 might just be the time he does it.
Talk about an extraordinary rise to prominence. In the eight months between September 2020 and May 2021, Garrick Higgo, who had already shown promise in his native South Africa, won three European Tour events.
That form earned him invitations into PGA Tour events, and Higgo, who’s shown an incredible appetite for grinding out wins, repeated the trick at the Palmetto Championship, a victory that secures his status amongst the big boys until the 2023 season at the earliest.
Already a prolific champion at just 22, Higgo will next set his sights on winning a major.
The Chilean has secured his promotion from the Korn Ferry Tour in the most impressive fashion – securing three wins, which grants automatic access to PGA Tour membership.
Two of those victories came in the Carolinas, and so Pereira will definitely be one to watch when the Tour rolls around to the south and the east of the US. His ascent continues at a great pace, and amazingly he had a chance to win a bronze medal at the 2020 Olympic Games, losing out in that extraordinary seven-man playoff.
That aside, Pereira, as with the other four players on this list, can look forward to the brightest of futures in golf.
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