Name: Shawn Stefani
Record: 23 events; 14 cuts made; four top 10s
Wins: 2 (Midwest Classic; Miccosukee Championship)
Notable Midwest Classic past winners: Michael Sim and James Nitties, noteworthy in that both are Australians
Notable Miccosukee Championship past winners: D.J.Trahan, Bryce Molder, D.A. Points
Money List: 6
Summary: With only one prior start on the Web.com Tour entering the season, Stefani played like a seasoned veteran with top-17 finishes in three of his first four starts. He followed up his first win in August with another in October to clinch his PGA TOUR card. He finished the year fourth in all-around ranking, 23rd in ball-striking and was fourth in final-round scoring average.
2013 Expectations: If he cozies up to life on the PGA TOUR in his rookie season as quickly as he did on the Web.com Tour, he will have nothing to worry about. Perhaps the most promising sign in terms of his chances to maintain his card is his penchant for lowering his scoring average as the tournament progresses. He averaged 70.29 before the cut, 69.20 in the third round and 68.57 in the final round. It will be important for him to perform well early in tournaments like the Humana Challenge, Northern Trust Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open to lay the groundwork for a successful season, much like his three top 17s in his first four events did on the Web.com Tour in 2012. I’ll take him in the 126-150 category.
Reminds me of: Graham DeLaet
Impact Tournaments: Farmers Insurance Open, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, True South Classic
Name: Robert Streb
Record: 24 events; 19 cuts made; seven top 10s
Wins: 1 (Mylan Classic)
Notable Mylan Classic Past Winners: Kevin Kisner and Gary Christian are the only two
Money List: 7
Summary: The Web.com Tour rookie showed a steady hand from the early events, cracking the top 25 in six of his first eight events highlighted by two top-four finishes. His lone victory ended a run of eight consecutive cuts made that included a couple of other top 10s. Though small in frame, he was 22nd in driving distance with a 302.5-yard average, but is better known as a smooth putter. His 1.746 putting average allowed him to circle 4.14 birdies per round, also ranking seventh in that category. To boot, he was second in scrambling, able to get up-and-down 64.69 percent of the time.
2013 Expectations: Statistically, there is plenty over which to drool. A combination of length, solid short game and a silky putter should bode well on the PGA TOUR. He also quickly adapted to life on the Web.com Tour, and adjusted admirably to seeing courses for the first time. Perhaps as impressive as his win was his tie for third at the BMW Charity Pro-Am that utilized a three-course rotation; meaning he could have played no more than one practice round on any of the courses and still almost dusted the field. My concerns are few, but it could take him a little time to get his sea legs, as he’s never teed it up in any PGA TOUR event. That said, I could see him being 2013’s Brian Harman or Gary Christian on the PGA TOUR. I’ll take him to finish inside the top 125 and avoid the need to further qualify for 2013-14.
Reminds me of: Brian Harman
Impact Tournaments: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Puerto Rico Open, Tampa Bay Championship
Name: Ben Kohles
Record: 10 events; eight cuts made; three top 10s
Wins: 2 (Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational; Cox Classic)
Notable Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational past winners: Daniel Summerhays, Bill Lunde, Harris English
Notable Cox Classic past winners: Johnson Wagner
Money List Rank: 8
Summary: Just days after turning professional, he took down one of the strongest fields of the year for his first win and went back-to-back the very next week. Essentially, in 11 days he went from hitting his first tee shot as a pro to securing a 2013 PGA TOUR card. He sputtered to the finish, with two missed cuts and zero top 25s in his last five tournaments.
2013 Expectations: I’m cautious on the 2013 rookie. We’ve seen two amateurs win the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational in the recent past in Daniel Summerhays and Harris English, as a number of top amateurs receive invitations to this event. Kohles won this event before understanding the pressures of being a professional golfer. He hadn’t had to deal with struggling for entry fees or travel money that every other pro in the field has faced at one time or another. He didn’t have responsibilities to anyone other than himself. To knock off a win in the next event was riding the wave. The big question for him in 2013 will be how he handles adversity. If he misses two of his first three cuts, for example, will he start to press? I’m leaning towards too much having happened too fast, and see him finishing outside the top 150 and headed to the four-tournament race for a card in the Fall.
Reminds me of: Daniel Summerhays
Impact Tournaments: Puerto Rico, FedEx St. Jude Classic, True South Classic
Name: Justin Bolli
Record: 24 events; 17 cuts made; four top 10s
Wins: 1 (Web.com Tour Championship)
Notable Web.com Tour Championship past winners (note the venue rotates): David Duval, Stewart Cink, Nick Watney, Brendan Steele, Ken Duke
Money List Rank: 9
Summary: With three top 25s in his first four weeks, it looked like he would cruise to the 2013 PGA TOUR, but his year had a few lulls. After a tie for seventh on his alma mater’s course in Athens, Georgia in early May, he had to wait all the way until August for a follow-up top 10 at the Cox Classic. A veteran of 156 events and a four-time Web.com Tour winner, he began the year’s final event 44th on the money list, so anything short of his best week of 2012 would lead to another year on the junior circuit. His win in the season’s final event was a mild surprise, as he missed the cut in two of the three events leading up to it. His 11th all-around ranking was all about his short game. He was second in putting average and sand saves, while finishing 25th in scrambling.
2013 Expectations: I’m always wary of a guy who’s already had multiple shots to navigate the PGA TOUR, but he's been unable to put together a top-125 season. With 76 starts on the PGA TOUR and just six top 25s and a lone top 10, it’s hard to be overly confident that this will be the year he turns the page. That said, a player with his short game always has a chance when the right variables come into play. Consider him a play when total driving isn’t a premium. More specifically, look for courses where greens are either really easy to hit and his putter can shine, or courses where the opposite extreme is true and his short game can pick him up strokes relative to the field. With history not on his side, I’ll take him outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Brian Gay
Impact Tournaments: RBC Heritage, John Deere Classic, True South Classic
Name: David Lingmerth
Record: 26 events; 14 cuts made; five top 10s
Wins: 1 (Neediest Kids Championship)
Notable Neediest Kids Championship past winners: none (new site in 2012)
Money List Rank: 10
Summary: His second year on the Web.com Tour mirrored his first in many ways. He had the exact same number of starts with just one more payday in 2012, and had five top 10s each year. The biggest difference is he traded in two third-place finishes in 2011 for a win and a runner-up in 2012. There were 10 events between his playoff loss at the United Leasing Championship and his victory in the Neediest Kids. He finished the year 45th in all-around ranking, and did not crack the top 25 in any major statistical category, though he was fairly steady across the board.
2013 Expectations: Having missed one shy of half his cuts in two Web.com Tour seasons, he will be a risky play in every game format. He’s also prone to streaks of missed cuts, and if he has one to start the 2013 season he could have trouble getting the tee times he needs to begin a hot streak later in the year. Gamers will likely have a good idea very early on as to his value, but the best guess is he must take advantage of the few times he puts himself into contention, much like Ted Potter Jr. did this season, or he’ll be back to trying to qualify for the 2013-14 TOUR in the new four-tournament system. The odds are against him, so I’ll say outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Richard H. Lee
Impact Tournaments: Valero Texas Open, The Greenbrier Classic, True South Classic
Name: Justin Hicks
Record: 25 events; 17 cuts made; 10 top 10s
Money List Rank: 11
Summary: He was a top-10 machine, leading the Web.com Tour with 10. He was second on Tour in ball-striking, first in greens in regulation, seventh in driving accuracy and 17th in putting average, all of which contributing to a seventh in the all-around ranking. Absent a win, there wasn’t much he didn’t do. In that sense, he was the Bo Van Pelt of the Web.com Tour.
2013 Expectations: He was a rookie on the 2011 PGA TOUR, making just seven (of 23) cuts and notching three top 25s and zero top 10s. He ranked 185th in strokes gained-putting on the 2011 TOUR and 180th in the all-around ranking. It’s hard to say if he tried something different in 2011 and it just didn’t work, and a year on the Web.com Tour fixed things, or if the problems were something other than physical. His inability to close the door on a Web.com Tour win coupled with fewer starts for all golfers in 2013 due to the elimination of the Fall Series and his record in 2011, doesn’t give me confidence to take him in anything other than an outside the top 150 category.
Reminds me of: Brendon de Jonge
Impact Tournaments: Tampa Bay Championship, Shell Houston Open, John Deere Classic
Name: Paul Haley II
Record: 23 events; 12 cuts made; four top 10s
Wins: 1 (Chile Classic)
Notable Chile Classic past winners: None (inaugural edition in 2012)
Money List Rank: 12
Summary: In a feast-or-famine season for the Georgia Tech product, a win in the season’s third event was followed by a tie for second at the TPC Stonebrae Championship in April and a runner-up at the Mexico Open in June. After that, he made just six cuts in his final 13 events with a lone top 10 the tournament after his trip to Mexico. It’s not surprising that a true rookie on the Web.com Tour would struggle with consistency, but fortunately he was able to take advantage of the times he put himself in contention.
2013 Expectations: His win and his solo second came outside the United States, so keep an eye on him in PGA TOUR events with an international flair. He’s going to be one of the many guys that must get off to a good start and take advantage of weekends where he is in contention in order to maintain his pecking order in the reshuffle. If he gets off to a rough start, it could be very hard for him to recover. He was 106th in ball-striking on the 2012 Web.com Tour, so there will be considerable pressure on his short game in 2013. I expect him to finish outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Ted Potter Jr.
Impact Tournaments: Puerto Rico Open, The Greenbrier Classic, RBC Canadian Open
Name: Cameron Percy
Record: 24 starts; 15 cuts made; five top 10s
Money List Rank: 13
Summary: The veteran failed to capture a title in 2012, but did find himself as a runner-up three times. One of those was a playoff loss at the BMW Charity Pro-Am, where he fell to fellow Australian, Nick Flanagan. Percy was fairly streaky, finishing inside the top 25 in nine of his 15 paydays. Ranking third in greens in regulations, it’s fair to say he went as far as his putter took him on a week-to-week basis.
2013 Expectations: A veteran of 38 PGA TOUR events, he is best remembered for the front-row seat he had for Jonathan Byrd’s walk off hole-in-one in a playoff at the Justin Timberlake Open in 2010. Ironically, Byrd is a past champion of the BMW Charity Pro-Am where Percy fell in a playoff this season, but at a different venue. Percy’s two career top 10s on the PGA TOUR came at the aforementioned Timberlake and the John Deere Classic. Both have reputations for weak fields and are easy courses to maneuver. Nothing suggests that Percy will finish inside the top 125. It’s much more likely that he will end up outside the top 150; which is where I’ll peg him.
Reminds me of: John Senden
Impact Courses: The Honda Classic, RBC Heritage, John Deere Classic,
Name: Andres Gonzales
Record: 23 starts; 14 cuts made; three top 10s
Wins: 1 (Soboba Golf Classic)
Notable Soboba Golf Classic past winners: Ted Potter Jr.
Money List Rank: 14
Summary: His year started off with a bang, including a win and a tie for second in his first five events. Thereafter, he had just one top 10 and missed eight cuts, as he apparently took the foot off the gas. With a 1.755 putting average ranking him 11th on the Web.com Tour on his side, his struggles were with ball-striking, coming in at 120th on Tour.
2013 Expectations: In 25 PGA TOUR starts, he has racked up three top 25s, but has yet to crack a top 10. With his statistical breakdown, he needs to run into a course that doesn’t require ball-striking prowess or have a much better than average week with his driver and irons to contend. Like others, there may be precious few events where Gonzales will contend, and he must make the most of them. I think he finds some degree of success and finishes in the 126-150 range; earning a spot in the four-tournament qualifier for the 2013-14 TOUR, but with some status to fall back on.
Reminds me of: Martin Flores
Impact Courses: Farmers Insurance Open, FedEx St. Jude Classic, John Deere Classic
Name: Scott Gardiner
Record: 25 events; 17 cuts made; six top 10s
Money List Rank: 15
Summary: Though he didn’t earn a win, he did rack up two runners-up in a three-week span. He has 199 Web.com Tour starts under his belt, but has yet to tee it up on the PGA TOUR. He was second in all-around ranking, fourth in ball-striking and fifth in birdie average.
2013 Expectations: With $1,156,841 in career earnings on the Web.com Tour, he’s shown the ability to post steady finishes for a long period of time once comfortable. My concern is that he won’t have enough time to find that level of comfort on the PGA TOUR in his rookie year. His stats are great, but there has to be a reason it took a guy 199 events to reach the PGA TOUR for the first time without ever having made it through Q School or the Web.com Tour until now. I’ll stick with my gut and take him outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Scott Brown
Impact Tournaments: Puerto Rico Open, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Valero Texas Open