Name: Lee Williams
Record: 25 events; 19 cuts made; four top 10s
Wins: 1 (Mexico Open)
Notable Mexico Open past winners: Troy Merritt, Jamie Lovemark, Erik Compton
Money List Rank: 16
Summary: The Auburn product backed up a tie for 10th at the Rex Hospital Open with his sole Web.com Tour win the next week in Mexico. A little over a month later, he record his only other top 10s in back-to-back fashion, demonstrating that he plays his best golf in highly concentrated spurts.
2013 Expectations: He will have a hard time competing week in and week out due to his 286.7-yard average off the tee; good for 104th on the Web.com Tour in 2012. Like the majority of Web.com Tour and Q School grads, it will be key for him to make the most of the weeks he’s in contention. With two paydays in four PGA TOUR starts entering what will be his rookie season, I see him outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Kevin Kisner
Impact Tournaments: Puerto Rico Open, Valero Texas Open, FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Name: Darron Stiles
Record: 24 events; 13 cuts made; five top 10s
Wins: 1 (News Sentinel Open)
Notable News Sentinel Open past winners: J.J. Henry, Heath Slocum, Vaughn Taylor, Chez Reavie, Chris Kirk
Money List Rank: 17
Summary: The elder statesman of the 2012 Web.com Tour graduating class, it’s fitting that his win came at one of the longest-standing stops on the circuit. With $1,827,808 in earnings, he is the career leader in money on the Web.com Tour. He’s short and straight, ranking 124th in distance, but fifth in driving accuracy and 16th in greens in regulation.
2013 Expectations: In 117 career PGA TOUR events, he owns just three top 10s and 11 top 25s. There are a number of guys like this that bounce from the Web.com Tour to the PGA TOUR and back again, and many of them have distance issues. Point being, don’t expect too much out of Stiles. I project him outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Gavin Coles
Impact Tournaments: Sony Open in Hawaii, FedEx St. Jude Classic, The Greenbrier Classic
Name: Brad Fritsch
Record: 26 events; 18 cuts made; seven top 10s
Money List Rank: 18
Summary: A veteran of 95 Web.com Tour events, he had his best season in 2012 with a share of second at the Mylan Classic the highlight. With six other top 10s on the résumé, he had it all going except a win. He sprinkled those top 10s across the entire season, preventing any dry spells from sneaking into his race for a card. At 12th in greens in regulation and 17th in the all-around ranking, it’s not hard to understand why the Canadian had a banner year.
2013 Expectations: With a combination of length, solid iron play and a decent putter, he will have a chance to make a mark on the 2013 PGA TOUR. He will be a rookie, and his five starts on the TOUR have resulted in one payday. He’s around that spot where you have to be concerned about the numbers of starts he will receive early in the year, putting pressure on him to perform well in his first few events. He’s got enough going to the good for me to take him in the 126-150 range.
Reminds me of: Will Claxton
Impact Tournaments: Puerto Rico Open, Travelers Championship, True South Classic.
Name: Morgan Hoffmann
Record: 13 events; 12 cuts made; seven top 10s
Money List Rank: 19
Summary: The rookie began the year with no status on the Web.com Tour and fought his way into the top 25 with about half the starts of his peers. After three cuts made that resulted in nothing better than a T35 to start the year, he had seven top 10s in his last 10 starts, including a playoff loss at the Chiquita Classic that all but assured him a spot in the Web.com Tour Championship. It took all 13 of his chances, but a T3 at the Web.com Tour Championship gave him the boost he needed to crack the top 25 and earn a PGA TOUR card.
2013 Expectations: Of those further down the line fighting for starts early in the 2013 season, Hoffmann may be the most dangerous. He had to battle for every start this past season, and the Oklahoma State product has the pedigree to become a staple on the PGA TOUR. It’s a small leap of faith, but I’ll take him to do something dramatic at some point in 2013 to keep his card, finishing inside the top 125.
Reminds me of: Billy Horschel
Impact Tournaments: Farmers Insurance Open, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, John Deere Classic
Name: Brian Stuard
Record: 26 events; 19 cuts made; four top 10s
Money List Rank: 20
Summary: Jumped out to a nice start in securing paychecks in five of his first six events, including a runner-up in the South Georgia Classic at the end of that stretch. He was amazingly consistent, never going more than two starts without a top-30 finish. He ranked inside the top 25 in driving accuracy, greens in regulation and putting average. He was third in scoring average before the cut, but faded to 68th in the final round.
2013 Expectations: He’s been to the big dance before with a moderate degree of success. In his rookie year of 2010, he made 13 of 28 cuts and tied for second at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. His third best finish was a T25 at the Sony Open, which could be very important in terms of the first reshuffle should he gain entry into that event this year. I like him to make a couple of early cuts and have a few nice weeks en route to a 126-150 finish on the money list.
Reminds me of: David Hearn
Impact Tournaments: Valero Texas Open, The Greenbrier Classic, True South Classic
Name: Andrew Svoboda
Record: 24 events; 17 cuts made; four top 10s
Money List Rank: 21
Summary: It took 84 starts, but he’s now broken through to earn a PGA TOUR card due in large part to two runner-up finishes. A T2 in Colombia to start the season and a solo second at the Soboba Golf Classic made him look like an early favorite to nab a card. It would be a grind to the finish, as he failed to crack a top 10 in his last 14 events. He finished the year ninth in putting average.
2013 Expectations: It took him a little time to acquaint himself to life on the Web.com Tour, and that’s time he most certainly will not have in 2013. While his iron game and flat stick performed well, he struggled to find fairways off the tee, which could hinder him on the PGA TOUR more than it did on the junior circuit. If he gets into the Sony Open to start the year, he will face a tight course right out of the gates. I don’t see him having the time to adjust to the big stage, and find it likely that he will finish outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Jimmy Walker
Impact Tournaments: Zurich Classic of New Orleans, True South Classic, Wyndham Championship
Name: Nicholas Thompson
Record: 26 events; 15 cuts made; seven top 10s
Money List Rank: 22
Summary: He finished inside the top 10 in almost 27 percent of his starts, showing he took advantage of the opportunities he had on the weekends. His best week was a T2 at the News Sentinel Open Presented by Pilot. While he missed his fair share of cuts, only once did he miss more than one in succession, and that was the three his missed to start the season. He was first in total driving, seventh in greens in regulation and led the Web.com Tour in ball-striking.
2013 Expectations: He has 130 starts on the PGA TOUR and has cashed in just over 50 percent of those events. He owns nine top 10s and 20 top 25s. His experience and level of success will give him a leg up on his competition, and a strong week in ball-striking coupled with an above average week with the flat stick early on could lead to a good enough season to keep his card. Because of his poor starting number, I like him more in the 126-150 range.
Reminds me of: John Merrick
Impact Tournaments: Puerto Rico Open, Shell Houston Open, Travelers Championship
Name: Alistair Presnell
Record: 26 events, 12 cuts made; four top 10s
Money List Rank: 23
Summary: His lack of consistency is concerning, but half the time he saw the weekend he grinded for a top 25. Of his four top 10s, three of them were top-three finishes and two of those were in the last four weeks; salvaging an otherwise unimpressive season. He ranked 86th in the all-around category, and his stats were all over the place, illustrating his penchant for missing more cuts than he made.
2013 Expectations: He’s a risk from a fantasy standpoint in 2013. His number for getting into early events is poor, and his inability to grind out cuts when he doesn’t have his best stuff is a problem. It’s taken him 104 events on the Web.com Tour to earn a TOUR card for the first time, and I don’t see a short 2013 TOUR season as a good formula for success. He should finish outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Charlie Beljan
Impact Tournaments: Puerto Rico Open, Zurich Classic of New Orleans, True South Classic
Name: Doug LaBelle II
Record: 24 events; 17 cuts made; one top 10
Wins: 1 (Utah Championship)
Notable Utah Championship Presented by Utah Sports Commission past winners: Zach Johnson, Brett Wetterich, Josh Teater, J.J. Killeen
Money List Rank: 24
Summary: The event at which he hoisted the trophy is one of the stronger in terms of field and past champions, but he graduated to the PGA TOUR by the skin of his teeth. In his last three events, he went T26-T15-T13 to sneak through. He was sixth in driving accuracy, but 111th in driving distance.
2013 Expectations: It’s going to be very tough for him to get starts early in the season, but he has a chance at early success if he gets into the Sony Open to start the year. It’s a course that values accuracy over length, and he finished T4 in that event in 2008 and T10 in 2009. The combination of lack of distance and trouble getting starts make it likely that he ends up in the four-tournament playoff for a 2013-14 job. I’ll take him outside the top 150.
Reminds me of: Mark Wilson
Impact Tournaments: Sony Open in Hawaii, Humana Challenge, The Honda Classic
Name: Jim Herman
Record: 26 events; 17 cuts made; three top 10s
Money List Rank: 25
Summary: While he didn’t put himself in the spotlight all that often, he quietly amassed 10 top 25s. A tie for second at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open and a T3 at the Cox Classic were the highlights, but the story of his season was how he finished inside the top 25 in just over 38 percent of his starts. As that might lead you to assume, he was fifth on the Web.com Tour in ball-striking; giving him plenty of opportunities for red numbers when the flat stick chose to cooperate.
2013 Expectations: He was a PGA TOUR rookie in 2011 and actually made more cuts (13) than he missed (nine). He couldn’t get it done on Sundays, ranking 177th in final-round scoring average that year. He could surprise some people this season, and I’ll take him in the 126-150 range.
Reminds me of: Harris English
Impact Tournaments: Puerto Rico Open, Reno-Tahoe Open, Wyndham Championship
That means, of the 25 Web.com Tour graduates, I expect five to finish the season inside the top 125, with an additional seven in the 126-150 conditional category. For the other 13, the hope is that they at least finish inside the top 200 to earn a trip to the four-tournament qualifier that replaces Q School as a conduit to the PGA TOUR.
Best of luck to all!