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Opinion & Analysis

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 @giancarlomag

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. B

    Jan 29, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Tommy Fleetwood?

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Opinion & Analysis

An important way Tiger Woods changed professional golf

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Tiger Woods is, without a doubt, one of the most influential players in the history of golf. 80 tour wins, 14 majors (10 of them before he was 30) are all incredible numbers.

But this article is not about his amazing stats.

Today, I want to talk about one thing he has done for the game off the course. Most of us remember the Nike commercial with all the little kids saying “I am Tiger Woods.” What we didn’t realize at the time was that an entire generation of young players were growing up idolizing Tiger.

While other kids may have had posters of Michael Jordan or Troy Aikman on their walls, these kids had posters of Tiger. They watched his every move. They all had black shorts or pants with a red shirt to wear on Sunday. They all wanted to be him. Some of those kids were Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Rory Mcllroy, and Lexi Thompson. They watched him and were amazed at how dominate he was and wanted to be like him.

As these kids grew up, they understood that the physical shape that Tiger always seemed to be in played a key role in how many tournaments he won and how, even on bad days when his skills seemed to take a day or two off, his physical conditioning got him through it. The young people watched him and started to include physical conditioning in their game. They were spending time in the gym and working with personal trainers. They still worked with swing coaches and in most cases played NCAA golf but the difference in their game was the work they did without a club in their hand.

So what is it that gives these players an edge? Is it because they are stronger? Maybe. Is it because they hit the ball further? No, because John Daly could bomb the driver but was in no way the most dominate player of his day. The key here is endurance. Because of the incredible shape these players keep themselves in, they can walk 72 holes of golf in brutally hot conditions and still have their A games on Sunday.

This is exactly what helped Tiger to be so good his competition couldn’t keep up with him and just faded down the leaderboard. Playing Tiger in his prime meant you had to have your entire game at its best and hope he missed a few shots or got sick. If he didn’t he was going to sneak up on you and pounce or he was already so far ahead that you were in a race for second place.

Today’s players have swing coaches and athletic trainers they work closely with nutrition experts and monitor everything they put into their bodies. These are the type of things we historically have expected to see from top NFL, NHL and NBA players, not golfers. This is the difference that Tiger has made and this may be the thing that impacts golf for decades to come. He has made golf into a sport that requires you to be in the best shape of your life if you want to play at the highest levels. It is also exactly what the game needed.

I can’t imagine the players of 25 years ago wearing golf shirts that were designed to be skin tight. I never would have believed seeing players with biceps bigger than some peoples legs (Brooks Koepka) but today it’s a reality. Most of the top players on both the PGA and LPGA are in great shape and reap the benefits of it on the 18th green on Sunday. Tiger will be remembered as an amazing player with amazing numbers. He is one of just a few players whose galleries could rival that of small cities. He is also a player that changed the way a generation of greats now play the game.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: WildHorse Golf Club in Gothenburg, Nebraska

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member Gizmogolf, who takes us to WildHorse Golf Club in Gothenburg, Nebraska. In Gizmogolf’s description of the course, he singles out the fast greens as being the main attraction for a visit to this track.

“Nearly as good as Sand Hills.  Less isolated just off I-80.  Best greens you’ll ever play–lightning fast.”

According to WildHorse Golf Club’s website, walking 18 holes during the week will set you back $51.50, while the rate rises to $61.50 should you want to play on the weekend.

@ericpeytongolf

@MellissaTeaches

@ericpeytongolf

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Podcasts

TG2: Do the new USGA rules even matter?

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Knudson and Rob discuss the new USGA rules for 2019, wondering if they will make any difference at all. Dropping from the knee, time to find your ball, ground in the hazard, and stroke/distance are all talked about.

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

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