February 24, 2024

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Which PGA Tour, LIV players could be superstars?  Who needs a big 2024 the most?

Which PGA Tour, LIV players could be superstars? Who needs a big 2024 the most?

We did it. The long golf season has come to an end (a month or so, give or take depends on your feelings on the Hero World Challenge), with the 2024 PGA Tour season getting underway this week at Kapalua.

Although men's professional golf never ends long enough for us to really miss it, there's real reason to get excited about The Sentry. First, it's the best collection of talent we've seen since the Tour Championship. Second, it's in Hawaii, which means prime time golf from somewhere sunny while most of us are in a much cooler place. There are worse ways to spend a weekend.

With the start of the season in mind, our golf team came together to answer some burning questions about the sport, which means PGA Tour and LIV players are ready to roll.

Who needs a big 2024 more?

Miller: Colleen Morikawa. It was extremely important for Morikawa to turn the corner like he did to end the 2023 regular season and then win a fall event in Japan, putting himself back in the conversation as a top-five golfer on the PGA Tour. He'll be 27 this year, and while those two big wins certainly won't go anywhere, Morikawa will tell you himself that the 2022 and 2023 seasons were disappointing.

He's one of the most talented golfers on the planet and one of the tour's biggest stars, but he's never actually played like an actual top-tier player week in and week out. He was a rising star who could display that immense talent – and that tenacious factor – to deliver grand slam victories at Harding Park and Royal St George's. But he entered the FedEx Cup playoffs outside the top 20 the past two years, showing that he was not a consistent golfer in the regular season. We all know how good Morikawa is. It could be the best. However, at a certain point, you are no longer the budding young person. She is 27 years old. Contemporaries like Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland have passed you by, and you have to take your place as an elite player.

The good news? It really seems like he's turned that corner. He's almost giddy about how he thinks he's solved a problem in his swing, addressed some back issues and finished 2023 playing some of his best golf. I think this is a big year for him.

Dustin Johnson's performance in 2023 has not been up to par. (Andrew Reddington/Getty Images)

Kellenberger: Dustin Johnson. He won't turn 40 until after the US Open. He's the last man not named McIlroy, Schaeffler or Rahm to be No. 1 in the world. We're still not far away from Johnson winning a green jacket and going 5-0 in the Ryder Cup. But in the six major tournaments since moving to LIV, he has gone T24, T6, T48, T55 and T10, and has never competed on a weekend. Because of that and LIV's continued lack of viewership, Johnson has fallen out of sight, out of the minds of golf fans. It's too young and not much left for this to be the case.

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Johnson's legacy in the game is secure and he's probably comfortable with his work-life balance right now, but it would be disappointing if he's really done adding to it – and winning one LIV event a year doesn't matter to anyone but the LIV bots. It's all about the major titles for Johnson at the moment, and getting his third title in 2024 (along with a win at Augusta National in 2020, and he played well at Pinehurst and Royal Troon) would be big.

Quinn: The instinct here was to point to Will Zalatoris' return, but then he realized that Cameron Young was somehow still without an actual PGA Tour win. Like everyone else, I was expecting a dynamic 2023 season from the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2022. Young figured to jump into the top-10 conversation and earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team. It simply has not been achieved yet. Instead, a frustrating season saw Young spend several late Friday afternoons needing to make birdies just to make the cut. The mostly memorable year included a final-round 73 in the final group at the Open to finish T8. No one would have imagined this early in the season that he would miss East Lake.

No one doubts Young's talent, but at 26 years old, you want to see him actually win. One imagines he does too. Young was particularly vocal at the BMW Championship last summer, when he said he wanted to grade his 2023 season with a C grade, describing it as “average golf.” He also said he deserved a B for managing his struggles and improving in some areas that didn't yield results. This is the season where things have to come together for Young because the alternative is a growing gap between him and a class of players we thought of as his contemporaries.

Who will be the rising star of 2024?

Miller: Min Woo Lee. For golf nerds, Lee may have already taken off, but this will be the year the 25-year-old Australian becomes a household name. The best breakouts are the ones that have been bubbling under the surface for a long time but never caught your attention.

that's mine. He won the Scottish Open at the age of 23, and has already finished in the top 25 at all four major tournaments. And the past eight months seem to have been a period of transition, the kind that almost all great golfers experience before they truly explode (think Scheffler hitting the top 20s and dominating the Ryder Cup in 2021).

After taking a T6 at the Players Championship, Lee had a truly impressive main round of T18 at the PGA Championship, T5 at the US Open and T41 at the Open Championship before racking up international victories at Macau and the Australian PGA Championship (against difficult courses). , I might add). He hasn't won on the PGA Tour yet, but he has quietly risen to No. 19 in the DataGolf rankings, a good indicator of who plays the most sustained golf. So this should be Min Woo's year.

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In conclusion, enjoy this beautiful shot of him on his way to winning Australia.

Kellenberger: The direct and obvious answer here is Ludwig Aberg, so much so that I wanted to resist it. It looked so obvious that I wondered if he was really a star. But…he's a star in the world of golf patients. Anywhere else? Not a lot – Aberg's Instagram following is half that of Adam Scott's, which may be anecdotal but is also a good measure of where an athlete stands in the broader landscape. Many golf fans were only introduced to Aberg at last year's Ryder Cup. So, 2024 will be a huge opportunity for him – when he will finally play in his first major tournament, allowing him to be noticed and seen by everyday players.

And they'll like what they see – Aberg may be a driver for generations, and the 24-year-old Swede has also adapted to professional golf as well as anyone we've seen in years. Every part of his game is good enough now to win, and some are exceptional. It seems that anything is possible.

Quinn: You're right, Hugh, Aberg is very clear on the answer. He's already a star. We saw that in Rome.

But you know who isn't? His Swedish colleague Vincent Norman. The 26-year-old was one of five players to win on both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour last season. the others? Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa and Aberg. Norman won the Irish Open with a final round 65 and took the Barbasol Championship in a playoff. Since turning professional in June 2021, Norman has risen from No. 1,018 in the world to No. 71, but has managed to remain in relative anonymity. That changes in 2024. Like Aberg, Norman is very long and very direct, and continues to get the rest of his game going.

Windham-Clark had a career season in 2023, winning the US Open. (Sean M. Havey/Getty Images)

Who will you sell shares to in 2024

Miller: Wyndham Clark. Maybe this is not a bold move. I happen to be someone who bought a lot of Clark stock last summer and I'm ready to sell for some profit. I tend to fall in love with players who are reliable in every other area and then “fix” their flaw, and the way Clarke corrected his ball striking elevated him to the level of a genuine top-10 player on the PGA Tour during the 2023 season. There was nothing fraudulent about it. , winning every high event, winning the Wells Fargo High Championship, and then winning us all around with a stunning performance at the US Open at LACC. Prior to 2023, he was struggling to maintain his PGA Tour card, so by that measure, yes, I think Clark remains a very solid golfer.

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But is he actually one of the top 15 players on the tour? One out of twenty? My friend had just played on the Ryder Cup team, so the bar was suddenly much higher. This is the year he will show us. He didn't do well in Rome (somehow he lost a 7.86 tee to green) and with his emotional play he often stumbles a lot when things go wrong. I hope Clark continues to be the golfer who makes it to the Tour Championship every year. I'm not sure.

Kellenberger: One day we'll look at Lucas Glover's eleventh-hour pleas to make the Ryder Cup team and it will all seem laughable. With all due respect to Glover, who overcame strokes to win twice in August, I don't see him continuing to be one of the best players on the PGA Tour like he has been for one month in 2023. It's much more likely this has been a great heater and not a sign that Glover, 44 Years later, he would go on a late-career Tour renaissance that would include multiple Tour wins and great competition. In the two full field events Glover played during the fall season, he was T44 and T59, so maybe it's over already.

Miller: but! There was never a time in Glover's career when he wasn't a good striker and driver of the ball, averaging about half a stroke gained in both categories. If you assume Ball's situation stays the same, I fully believe he'll be back in Atlanta next year.

Quinn: Cameron Smith finished the 2023 calendar with negative strokes gained in five of his final seven events, a detail that might not seem too alarming, until you realize that you'd be hard-pressed to find another elite worldwide player with anything even remotely alarming. Yes, that stretch includes his LIV win at Bedminster in August, but for the purposes of this exercise, and analyzing the top players who may not be worth riding with in the 2024 Grand Slam, it's worth looking at Smith's current form.

This should be an interesting summer for Smith. Entering 2022, he was widely considered the best player on the LIV roster. Since then, Brooks Koepka has won a major title, Talor Gooch has won his singles championship, Bryson DeChambeau has returned to form and, most notably, Jon Rahm has replaced everyone at the top of the LIV. Smith now seems to be in a rather strange place in the new world order. He left St Andrews in the summer of 2022 as one of the most talked about players in the world and certainly no less talented today. But, as with all LIV players, his performance in major tournaments has become more important.

(Top photos, left to right, Lucas Glover, Min-Woo Lee, Colleen Morikawa: Lintao Zhang, Gregory Schamus, Mark Metcalf/Getty Images)