The 2022-23 PGA TOUR season is just around the corner which means a heap of new faces will be arriving fresh from the developmental Korn Ferry Tour.
For gamers and bettors, being able to target the right names out of the gate can be very profitable in the fall.
When it comes to making the leap from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA TOUR, there are 25 names that earned their card via the 2022 KFT regular season and 25 more names that earned their way through the three-event Finals series.
I've sifted through the data to rank each golfer on four metrics: baseline performance, low-round ability, consistency (making cuts), and upside (top-20 potential).
Here are the top 10 contenders coming out of the Class of 2022.
10. Zecheng Dou
He played his way onto the PGA TOUR before he was even of legal drinking age in the States. He went just 4-for-23 during that 2018 rookie campaign but has picked up 13 top 10s on the KFT circuit since then including a pair of wins. One noticeable improvement has come in the distance department. He was 133rd in driving distance during the 2018 PG TOUR season but 24th this season on the Korn Ferry stage. Dou has played quite well on longer layouts in the last few years as well as coastal courses.
9. Seonghyeon Kim
The 23-year-old Dallas resident snagged five top 10s in 22 events played. He didn't impress with his ball-striking but ranked 1st in scrambling and 4th in putts per round. That kind of scrappy short game is likely going to result in inconsistent results but he can keep pace with any field on days where his ball-striking is above average.
8. Nick Hardy
It's rare to see someone get better immediately after an injury but that's what happened with Hardy this spring. He missed more than a month after the Zurich Classic with a wrist injury but landed six top 15s in 12 events played after returning to action. Three of those were in PGA TOUR events. Hardy has always flashed a lot of potential and if this post-injury version is what we see in 2023, then he'll be rewarding gamers early and often.
7. Justin Suh
Speaking of injuries, Suh battled injuries right after college and it slowed his progression to the big stage. He was World No. 1 amateur during his USC days and we are seeing that talent emerge again. Suh rattled off top 20s in 15-of-19 events before closing his season with a breakout win at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. The sky is the limit for Suh as he readies for his first season on the PGA TOUR.
6. MJ Daffue
Stormed out of the gate with top 15s in four of his first six starts. He would add five more of those top 15s before the season was over. Daffue ranks 8th or better in all four metrics I graded the grads on. He was first known for his go-low power in Monday Qualifiers but he proved this year that he can flash those skills more consistently. The samples are relatively small but his splits lean toward tougher, long tracks with fast greens. That would play nicely in a lot of big events.
5. Matti Schmid
The 24-year-old popped with a T8 at the Barbasol Championship and a T9 in event two of the KFT Finals. His driving skills really stand out when looking at his performance on the DP World Tour but he has a lot of work to do in the short-game department. If he can improve to become TOUR average on and around the greens then he'll find himself in contention quite a bit during his 2023 rookie campaign.
4. Carl Yuan
The youngster from China impressed with five podium finishes this season (1 win, 3 runner-ups), leading the way in regular season points. He was 7th in driving distance and 8th in GIR so there is no reason to suspect this performance can't translate to the big stage. His splits lean to long, tough courses which could put him in play for some big events.
3. Thomas Detry
Many have been waiting patiently for his breakout win in Europe but they are still waiting. Perhaps the Illinois alum will get the job done on American soil instead. He certainly has the tools to contend on the big stage. He's gaining strokes in all four sub-categories of strokes gained on the DP World Tour and that's on somewhat of a "down year" for him. An obvious spot to target him would be the Corales as he's very comfortable in the area. His splits suggest coastal, less-than-driver layouts with grainy greens might suit him well which gives him a lot of options to contend in the fall. Or maybe a venue like Harbour Town.
2. Taylor Montgomery
Montgomery was locked in with top 15s in 11 of his last 13 KFT events. He's piled up seven podium finishes over the last two seasons without bagging a single win. He ended the season ranked 15th in driving distance, 21st in GIR, 2nd in scrambling, 2nd in putts per round, and 1st in birdies per round. That kind of all-around tool set is going to make him a popular DFS option in the fall. His splits scream heavily in the direction of targeting him on easy courses where birdies are readily available.
1. Dean Burmester
The two-time DP World Tour winner can keep up with the big boys in the driving distance department (currently 4th in distance on the DP World Tour). He's currently on a stretch that includes four top 11s in a five-event stretch. That includes a T10 at the Scottish Open, a T11 at The Open, and a pair of top 5s in the KFT Finals. His splits are pretty distinct in the direction of driver-heavy courses with easy scoring, a small penalty for missing the fairway, and slow bermuda greens.