Players to watch: Predicting 10 first-time PGA Tour winners in 2023

After taking a nearly two-month holiday hiatus, the PGA Tour will return to action the first week of January with the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

The last time we saw the boys in action, Adam Svensson earned his first win on Tour at the RSM Classic in November. Tom Kim earned his second career win a month before at the Shriners Children’s Open.

There were 12 first-time winners on Tour in 2022. Golfweek predicted two of them, while four won on other tours. So who do we have our eyes on for next year? From veterans to rising stars from the amateur ranks, here are 10 players who we predict will hoist a trophy on Tour for the first time in 2023.

Cameron Young

2022 Hero World Challenge
2022 Hero World Challenge

Cameron Young of the United States plays his shot from the fourth tee during the third round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on December 03, 2022 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Young is in a similar spot as his good friend Will Zalatoris was when I picked him last year: it wasn’t a matter of if Zalatoris was going to win on Tour, but when. Same for Young. The 25-year-old finished runner-up on five different occasions last year, including in consecutive weeks at the Open Championship and Rocket Mortgage Classic. He also finished T-3 at the PGA Championship.

He doesn’t shy from the big moments, so don’t be surprised if he takes home a few trophies in the new year.

Sahith Theegala

2022 QBE Shootout
2022 QBE Shootout

Sahith Theegala of the United States hits from the eleventh tee during the final round of the QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club on December 11, 2022 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Theegala is a return selection for this year and for good reason. So far this season he’s finished T-5 at the Zozo Championship and T-2 at the RSM Classic in his last start before the break. He also won the QBE Shootout earlier this month, an unofficial event, alongside partner Tom Hoge. The 24-year-old advanced to the Tour Championship last season and earned three top-five finishes, including a T-2 at the Travelers. Watch Theegala for three holes and you’ll see he has the distance and short game to compete with the game’s best. All he has to do now is close one out.

Harry Higgs

2022 RSM Classic
2022 RSM Classic

Harry Higgs of the United States plays his shot from the second tee at Sea Island Resort Seaside Course on November 20, 2022 in St Simons Island, Georgia. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

I begged the golf gods to make this happen for 2022, and I’m doing so again for 2023. The 31-year-old is a growing fan favorite on Tour and a Higgs victory celebration is something the fans deserve.

Kurt Kitayama

2022 CJ Cup
2022 CJ Cup

Kurt Kitayama plays from the fourth tee during the final round of THE CJ CUP in South Carolina golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

This year could be Kitayama’s coming out party. The 29-year-old has won professionally twice on the European Tour in 2018 and 2019 but just hasn’t broken through on the PGA Tour yet. That said, he has been close. Last season he finished runner-up twice and third once and recently finished runner-up at the CJ Cup in October.

Maverick McNealy

2022 QBE Shootout
2022 QBE Shootout

Maverick McNealy of the United States hits from the 4th tee during round two of the QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club on December 10, 2022 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Bringing back another from last year’s list because McNealy is too talented to not win, simple as that. After tying Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers for most wins in Stanford history with 11, success at the next level has been few and far between (with a lot of missed cuts in the middle). This season, McNealy has four top-20 finishes in six early starts. If he keeps this form up, a win may be on the horizon.

Tommy Fleetwood

2022 Hero World Challenge
2022 Hero World Challenge

Tommy Fleetwood of England putts on the first green during the second round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on December 02, 2022 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Fleetwood’s due for a win on the PGA Tour, right? He finished T-4 in October at the CJ Cup and won his sixth DP World Tour title in November. Don’t be shocked if Fleetwood’s picks up his first win on Tour to make his case for the European Ryder Cup team.

Davis Riley

2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open
2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open

Davis Riley takes a tee shot on the first hole during the second round of the Cadence Bank Houston Open golf tournament. (Photo: Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports)

A two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner in 2020, Riley came close to nabbing his first victory on the PGA Tour earlier this year at the Valspar Championship, where he lost to Sam Burns on the second playoff hole. He earned additional top-five finishes last season at the Charles Schwab Challenge and in consecutive starts at the Mexico Open and Zurich Classic of New Orleans. This season, however, has been a mixed bag of results. The 25-year-old has made the cut in six of his seven starts, but has earned just two top-25 finishes.

Thomas Detry

2022 World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba
2022 World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba

Thomas Detry of Belgium plays a shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the World Wide Technology Championship at Club de Golf El Camaleon at on November 06, 2022 in Playa del Carmen. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Detry hasn’t missed a cut in his first five starts of the new season and has logged a pair of top-10 finishes, including a runner-up showing at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship. He didn’t miss a cut in five Tour starts last season, either. He’s a consistent player, and that kind of game travels. Mix in a couple low rounds and that’s the recipe for a win.

Ludvig Aberg

NCAA Golf: The Prestige
NCAA Golf: The Prestige

Texas Tech golfer Ludvig Aberg tees off on the 14th hole of PGA West Greg Norman Golf Course at The Prestige golf tournament in La Quinta, California, on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Vickie Connor/The Desert Sun via USA TODAY NETWORK

The player who finishes atop the PGA Tour University rankings will earn a Tour card for the rest of the season, and right now that’s Aberg. The 23-year-old Swede has been a star for Texas Tech over the last few years and won the 2022 Ben Hogan Award as the nation’s top college player. He might not start his career with a win as early as the likes of Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, but he’s certainly good enough to win.

Austin Greaser

2022 U.S. Amateur
2022 U.S. Amateur

Austin Greaser hits a tee shot at the 2022 U.S. Amateur at Arcola Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. (Kathryn Riley/USGA)

No. 2 in the PGA Tour U ranking is Greaser, the 2021 U.S. Amateur runner-up and leader of the North Carolina Tar Heels, who were quarterfinalists at last year’s NCAA Championship. He made the cut at the 2022 U.S. Open and can keep up with the professionals in the distance and competitive departments. Give him a chance at the next level, and he’ll be in the mix.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek