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The 5 players without a PGA Tour victory who are most likely to break through in 2019

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Earlier this month, I covered the five players without a major who I believe are most likely to change that in 2019. Now it’s time to take a look at the budding stars, as well as some late bloomers on the PGA Tour without a victory who are primed to make the breakthrough in 2019.

*Being 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking and on the list of five players without a major who are most likely to win in 2019, it didn’t feel necessary to include Tommy Fleetwood here.

5. Luke List

Luke List came agonizingly close to becoming a winner on the PGA Tour in 2018, with only a clutch performance from Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic preventing him from doing so. In the 2017/18 season, the 34-year-old proved that he belongs on the PGA Tour claiming five top-10 finishes, and with two top-five finishes in just five events played in the 2018/19 season, List looks ready to make the breakthrough in 2019.

What has prevented him from winning so far in his career? Well, apart from an inspired Justin Thomas, List’s putting has been very costly. The American finished 176th for strokes gained putting in 2017, and last year he came in at 181st. So far this season, List sits 50th, which shows a significant improvement, and with the talent he possesses, it may just take one strong week on the greens for him to get his hands on a trophy in 2019.

4. Beau Hossler

In 2018, Beau Hossler was on the receiving end of a dagger of a putt from Ian Poulter on the 18th green at the Houston Open. The putt, as well as the subsequent collapse in the playoff, prevented the Colin Montgomerie doppelgänger (in swing and apparel, at least) from entering the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour and booking his ticket to Augusta National in the process. But in that event, as well as subsequent ones, including the Travelers Championship where he finished T2, Hossler showed he has the game to win on the PGA Tour.

With so many tournaments on the Tour being decided by who can putt out of their skin for four days, Hossler’s streakiness on the greens could well be the catalyst to the 23-year-old getting his first win. In 2018, Hossler gained over five strokes over the field in seven events. To put that in perspective, one of the best putters on Tour, Jason Day, only achieved that feat three times last year. Continuing to have red hot weeks on the greens may allow Hossler to record a victory in 2019.

3. Alex Noren

Sitting 21st in the Official World Golf Ranking, a win on the PGA Tour is surely around the corner for Alex Noren. Just like Luke List, Noren came within touching distance of capturing the Honda Classic last year and had it not been for J.B. Holmes waiting until Christmas to hit his layup at the Farmers Insurance Open, Noren may well have tasted victory at Torrey Pines in 2018.

10 wins on the European Tour show Noren’s pedigree, and with him now plying his trade full time on the PGA Tour, it looks to be more of a question of when and not if the Swede will win a title stateside.

2. Sungjae Im

Not a household name as of yet, Web.com Tour graduate Sungjae Im is making his debut season on Tour, and the 20-year-old has begun very impressively. Im has already notched two top-20 finishes in his three appearances so far in 2019, and he also claimed a top-five finish at the beginning of the wraparound season at the Safeway Open.

In 2018, Im was the only player on the Web.com Tour to win multiple events, and what’s more, Im also claimed three runner-up finishes. The South Korean is undoubtedly a name to look out for in 2019, and at his current trajectory, he has every chance of emulating his slightly older countryman Si-Woo Kim, and becoming a PGA Tour winner very early on in his career.

1. Abraham Ancer

At just 5′ 7″, you probably wouldn’t think that Ancer is one of the top performers on the Tour off the tee. However, entering this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Mexican sits fifth in the field for strokes gained off the tee over his previous 50 rounds. With this significant weapon in his arsenal, Ancer’s results continue to grow, and with it, my belief that a first win on Tour is just around the corner for the 27-year-old.

Ancer ended his 2017/18 season with two top-10 finishes in his last five events, and in his seven subsequent events to begin the 2018/19 season, the Mexican has recorded four top-25 finishes, including top-five finishes at both the CIMB Classic and Shriners Open. Look for Ancer to get his maiden win on Tour in 2019.

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. B

    Jan 29, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Tommy Fleetwood?

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Rocco Mediate

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In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Fujikura, Johnny has a serious heart-to-heart with six-time Tour Winner and all-around legend Rocco Mediate. This is a must-listen! They talk gear, sobriety, the 2008 U.S. Open, and Rush.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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The Gear Dive WITB Edition: Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates talks Viktor Hovland

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In this WITB Edition of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates on the ins and outs of Puerto Rico Open Champion Viktor Hovland’s golf bag.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

They also cover Jim Wells Putters and the legendary Ping Eye 2 wedge.

Viktor Hovland WITB

Driver: Ping G410 LST (9 degrees @ 8.5; flat standard, CG shifter in draw)
Shaft: Project X HZURDUS Black 6.5 (44.5 inches, D3 swing weight)

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees @ 14.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei Blue AV 85 TX

Irons: Callaway X Forged UT (21 degrees), Ping i210 (4-PW)
Shafts: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-85 X Hybrid (21), KBS Tour 120 X (4-PW)

  • Standard length, .5 degrees flat, D2+

Wedges: Ping Glide 3.0 (50-SS, 56-SS @ 55, 60-TS)

  • 50SS (35.25 inches, 1-degree flat, D3, “Half Moon” Grind)
  • 56SS (35 inches, 1.5-degree flat, D3+)
  • 60TS (34.75 inches, 2-degrees flat, D4)

Shafts: KBS Tour-V 130 X

Putter: Ping PLD Prototype “Hovi”

  • 36″, 20-degree lie, 2.5-degree loft, stepped shaft

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride MCC White/Black 58R

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Realistic expectations

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(Today’s post is one I actually wrote nearly eight years ago, but I’m using it to start a series about “thinking your way to better golf.” I hope you enjoy the next few weeks.)

One of the great regrets of my life is that I missed the fatherhood experience, never having had children of my own. As I get older, I find that I gravitate to the younger folks, and offer my help whenever I can, whether on the golf course, on the water fishing, or just life in general. One of my joys is working with younger kids on their golf. That includes instruction, of course, but what I think is more important for them in the developmental stages is to learn to manage
their expectations. Actually, we all could benefit from that bit of advice.

On Sunday, I had the joy of playing with the 16-year-old son of one of our partners at SCOR Golf. Kyle is a tremendously talented young man who I’ve worked with quite a bit, but he really hasn’t committed himself to golf yet. I’m talking about the kind of commitment that keeps him working hard at it as long as there is daylight. He might not ever get that, and that’s OK, but he hasn’t figured out yet that your expectations can only rise from your achievements, and not from your desires.

On a core level, Kyle has great strength but hasn’t learned to harness it yet. He wants to choose his clubs based on his maximum distance with that club—if everything falls exactly into place. Like most golfers, and especially young ones,
he’s enamored with the power game. When we play, I show him that throttling back and controlling the shot is much more reliable.

What I discovered Sunday is that Kyle has very unrealistic expectations about what a round of golf should really be like. He, like most of us, expects all the shots to be struck solidly and fly like he imagined. So I explained that he hasn’t
earned the right to have such expectations yet. His scores average around 90-95 and his best ever is an 85.

So, here’s my point (finally)

Kyle was off to a good start with three pars and two bogeys in his first five holes. He kind of “fat-pulled” a 4-iron approach on a 200-plus yard par three. His shot left him only 10-15 yards short and left of the green, but he wheeled around, dropped his club and expressed his disgust with the shot. And I got on him about it. “What’s wrong with that? It’s a difficult par-3 with a 20 mph crosswind and you are in good position to get up and down or at least make no worse than bogey on one of the hardest holes on the course.”

I went on to explain that he was only two pars away from tying his best round ever, and if he just played for bogeys – and stay excited—he would probably make twice that many or more. And I seemed to get through to him of the reality
of golf, or his golf at least. He stayed in the moment, with only a little more cajoling from me, and shot an 86—one shot off his best ever! And I MADE him congratulate himself on his accomplishments. Instead of focusing on those few
shots that were bad, and the 2-3 doubles he made, I told him to focus on the good that came out of that round.

So, here’s my point (or points) for managing your expectations, too.

  1. If you are a low single-digit player, you’ll still only hit 2-3 shots a round just like you wanted.
  2. If you play to a 12 or higher, any shot that keeps you in the game isn’t really all that bad.
  3. Regardless of your skill level, there is no such thing as a “birdie hole” when you are standing on the tee. A “birdie hole” can only be claimed when you have executed an approach to makeable putt range.
  4. If you are a 12-15 handicap player, you only need to make 3-6 pars to beat your handicap, as long as you don’t chop up any holes. Bogeys are good scores unless you regularly shoot in the 70s!

So, the next time you are on the golf course, try to set and manage realistic expectations. Your golf will be better for it, and you’ll have a ton more fun.

NOTE: I read a great article this morning by Geoff Ogilvy about the quality of golf being played on the PGA Tour. It reflects what I’ve often said about how the modern tour professional plays the game. Here it is.

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