25 rookies have played on the PGA Tour in the 2012 season. Two have lifted their first championship trophies, John Huh (Mayakoba Classic) and Ted Potter Jr. (Greenbrier Classic). The following is a review of the four rookies who have qualified for the BMW Championship, the third event in the PGA Tour Playoffs, still alive in the chase for the FedEx Cup. The BMW Championship will be played September 6-9, 2012, at Crooked Stick Golf Club, in Carmel, Indiana.
John Huh: A 22-year-old native of New York, Huh burst on the scene early in the 2012 season, with a sixth place finish in the Farmers Insurance Open in January. In February, he became the first rookie champion, with victory in the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Overall he put together four top 10 finishes in his first 15 events through May, but none since. Perhaps he ran out of gas with the length of the Tour season.
After the BMW Championship, the top 30 in FedEx points will advance to the Tour Championship, the final event of the playoffs. John Huh comes in ranked #27. He is to be congratulated for his victory at Mayakoba and is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year, but finishing outside the top 30 in six of his last seven events I don't think he will advance past the BMW Championship.
Bud Cauley: A 22-year-old native of Daytona Beach, Florida, Cauley turned pro fresh out of the University of Alabama in the summer of 2011. With two top 10 finishes in eight events entered as a non-member, he earned member status for the 2012 Tour as a rookie.
Bud Cauley has six top 10 finishes overall in 2012, and four in his last six events. Entering the BMW Championship ranked #33 in FedEx points, only 40 points out of the top 30, I believe he will move up and onward to the Tour Championship, with the FedEx Cup still a possibility.
Seung-Yul Noh: At just 21 years of age, Noh (a native of Gangwon-do, South Korea) is the youngest of our four rookies. However, he has been a professional the longest, having given up his amateur status in 2007. Playing primarily in Asia (with two professional wins), Seung-Yul also played in six major championships before entering the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in December of 2011. A tie for third there earned his Tour privileges for 2012.
Of all PGA Tour members, Seung-Yul Noh ranks 1st in par-5 performance, third in birdies and seventh in eagles in 2012. Unfortunately, he has struggled with his consistency (not at all unusual for a rookie). He was the first round leader last week, with a 62, but followed with two rounds in the 70s. A final round 68 brought him a tie for 13th. Ranked #38 coming in, he will need a strong finish in the BMW Championship to advance. I believe we will see at least one score in the 60s from Noh, but he will not move on.
Brian Harman: A 25-year-old native of Savannah, Georgia, Harman is #51 in FedEx points. It would be easy to dismiss his chances in the BMW Championship, with only one top 10 finish all year. Before we write him off, however, there are two moments worth remembering. On one glorious Friday in March, playing in the second round of The Honda Classic (where Rory McIlroy first claimed the world #1 ranking), it was Harman who posted a nine-under par 61 to tie the course record. That may seem like ancient history now, but just two weeks ago (in The Barclays) he posted the best finish of his PGA Tour career, a tie for fifth in the first event of the Playoffs.
Brian Harman could find the magic once more at Crooked Stick, rising into the top 30 and advancing to the Tour Championship, but I don't believe he will.
Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.