The PGA Tour has recently begun as the push for the FedEx Cup continues. This season has already seen four winners in Xander Schaufelle at the Tournament of Champions, Matt Kuchar at the Sony Open, Adam Long at the Career Builder Challenge, and Justin Rose this past weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open Open.
But this is the year that some familiar names will pop up and climb not only the FedEx Cup rankings, but the World Golf Rankings. And one golfer has already jumped out to a hot start and currently leads the FedEx Cup.
Technically he has a win in 2018 that counts towards 2019 and that was the WGC HSBC Champions. A tournament he won in dramatic fashion when he defeated Tony Finau (you’ll probably see him later) in a playoff.
He followed up that win with another win in the PGA’s first event of the new year when he won the Sentry Tournament of Champions with a score of -11 in the final round.
Even though he didn’t secure a win last season, Schaufelle showed up when it mattered most. In the four majors his finishes were T-50 (Masters) T-6 (US Open) T-2 (Open Championship) and T-35 (PGA Championship. He finished T-2 in the Players Championship T-3 in the BMW Championship and T-7 in the Tour Championship. With eight top-10 finishes last year and two wins this year, Schaufelle is poised for a break out season that may see him win a major.
A Ryder Cup rookie last year, Tony Finau is about to have a monster season. He finished in the top-10 in three of the four majors last season and had 12 top-10 finishes overall. Finau was constantly in the top-10 in the FedEx Cup rankings as well and he’s said that he’s learned a lot since last year and he’s ready to make the jump to stardom.
Last year he ranked fourth in driving distance averaging just over 315 yards per drive. However; he’ll have to work on his short game. Last year he ranked 78th on tour in putts per round but his birdie plus average was 32% which ranked in the top 20 on tour.
Finau is a player that can play the long courses, but has to get his accuracy down if he wants to make that leap to stardom. He might have a slower start to 2019 but when the stakes are high, there is a high chance you’ll see Tony Finau near the top of the leaderboard. Hopefully he won’t separate his ankle again celebrating a hole-in-one though.
The Spaniard who was a part of the winning European squad in the Ryder Cup has three top-10 finishes this year. Rahm won the Career Builder Challenge last year with his -22 score after finishing second the week prior. He burst onto the scene last year after finishing fourth in the Masters Tournament which almost gave Spain back-to-back champions.
Another player that has to work on his short game, Rahm is still poised to have a big 2019. He only had five top-10 finishes but was also near the top of the leaderboard in big events. Now unfortunately, he did not make the cut in the US Open or the Open Championship but he did finish T-4 in the PGA Championship and finished in the top 15 in the FedEx Cup.
Rahm just finished T-5 at last weeks Farmers Insurance Open, seven shots behind Rose. Though he does have a win this season with a -20 score at the Hero World Challenge, and surely that won’t be his last of the season. He will be competing at the Phoenix Wast Management Open next week, but that’ll be his third tournament in a row. We’ll have to see if fatigue sets in for a guy that has finished outside of the top-10 just once this season.
If Rahm keeps his momentum going, get ready to hear a lot of Ole chants on Tour this season.
– Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)
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