6 PGA Tour Breakout Candidates to Watch in 2022

| September 27, 2021 11:32 am PDT

Not every hot take pans out. I was too early on Davis Riley and perhaps a bit too brash regarding Doc Redman.

On the flip side, one of my bold predictions last year was that Sam Burns – ranked 154th in the world at the time and coming off finishing 111th in the FedEx Cup – would become a household name and qualify for the TOUR Championship.

That prophecy most came to fruition.

With the 2021-22 campaign in the rearview, now’s a perfect time to assess the next crop of rising stars. Who are the PGA Tour breakout candidates in the upcoming season?

Here’s a six-pack of possibilities.

Brandon Hagy

  • Current OWGR: 157
Brandon Hagy

Watching former college teammate Max Homa win for the third time in three years has to be motivating for Brandon Hagy. After all, Hagy hits it a good 20 yards past Max off the tee and can recall beating up on Homa back in Berkeley.

The 30-year-old Californian has flashed his skills since turning pro in 2014 but has been unable to sustain any sort of elongated momentum. Until this summer.

Brandon racked up top-6 finishes at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and Barracuda Championship, plus he played in the final group on Sunday at the John Deere.

Based on Hagy’s trajectory over the last three seasons, 2021-22 could very well be Brandon’s official coming-out party.

Brandon Hagy is Gaining Momentum
Season PGA Tour Starts Top-10s Top-25s FedEx Cup Rank
2018-19 13 0 0 253
2019-20 17 0 3 152
2018- 28 2 6 84

Doug Ghim

  • Current OWGR: 234
Doug Ghim

Similar to the case with Hagy and Homa, Doug Ghim played alongside Scottie Scheffler for four years in Austin. The two went back-and-forth as the top player on John Fields’ squad.

Scheffler’s success as a pro is encouraging, as is Ghim’s game log from this past season.

Despite collecting just one top-10 (T5 at The American Express), Doug was steadily compiling weekend tee times. Ghim connected on 18 of 27 cuts, impressively landing inside the top-25 nine times.

For perspective, that’s as many top-25s as Brooks Koepka amassed and one fewer top-25 than the likes of Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey.

In terms of what this former Longhorn does well, Ghim relies on elite ball-striking. Doug ranked 15th on tour in driving accuracy and 16th in GIR. Ironically, he finished the season in a dead heat with Scottie Scheffler in SG: Tee-to-Green (T21 on the PGA Tour).

Sahith Theegala

  • Current OWGR: 446

Sahith Theegala joined select company in 2020. Becoming just the fifth male to sweep college’s golf three most prestigious individual awards (Haskins, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus), Theegala is staring into a promising PGA Tour career.

Consider the four other players who had achieved this feat.

Sahith Theegala
  • Hunter Mahan (2003)
  • Bill Haas (2004)
  • Ryan Moore (2005)
  • Patrick Rodgers (2014)

The 6’3” Pepperdine product turned pro in June of 2020 and bounced various tours trying to establish a footing. He finally scratched the surface on the Korn Ferry Tour in the spring making all six of his cuts as a non-member.

Needing to make something happen in the KFT Finals, Sahith delivered by posting consecutive top-6 finishes in the final two events. Theegala parlayed his hot play into a confident showing in Napa – Sahith led the field in pars and ranked 14th in SG: Tee-to-Green.

David Lipsky

  • Current OWGR: 159
David Lipsky

It’s hard to call a 33-year-old with two European victories under his belt a breakout candidate. Nonetheless, 2021-22 will mark David’s first year with full PGA Tour status.

After spending time touring the Asian and European circuits, Lipsky made a conscious choice to commit to the KFT this past year.

On the heels of a win and three runner-up showings, Lipsky validated his decision and will now be a regular on the big stage.

If David’s performance at the Fortinet Championship (T22) is any indication of what’s to come, I like his chances. The Los Angeles native (now resides in Las Vegas) finished the week 7th in SG: Off-the-Tee and 9th in SG: Putting.

Start getting used to Lipsky’s name popping up on leaderboards.

Mito Pereira

  • Current OWGR: 82
Mito Pereira

Beginning 2020 ranked outside of the top 300 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), Mito Pereira blasted his way onto the PGA Tour in 2021.

Cementing his status via the Battlefield Promotion (three wins on the Korn Ferry Tour in one season), the 26-year-old Chilean has already made a bunch of noise amongst his new peers.

Pereira finished 5th at the Barbasol Championship and 6th at the 3M Open, then he was part of the 7-man playoff that tussled for a bronze medal in Tokyo.

After jumping out of the gates with a solo-3rd in Napa, perhaps I’m a bit late to the party on calling Mito one of the golfers who could break out.

In that case, let’s raise the expectations.

I’ll say Pereira wins at least once and contends in a major, and therefore he’ll be part of Trevor Immelman’s squad at the 2022 Presidents Cup. I can already smell a Pereira/Niemann pairing at Quail Hollow Club.

John Augenstein

  • Current OWGR: 460
John Augenstein

I’m going back to the well with the last of my breakout candidates on the PGA Tour. I highlighted John in a similar piece last year when Augenstein was ranked 1,272nd in the world.

Thanks to a recent surge in his last three starts on the PGA Tour (T20-T37-T6), Vanderbilt grad has chipped away and is up to #460.

My “crystal ball” tells me that John could be a top-50 player in the world as soon as this time next year.

The aptitude is undoubtedly present – John was honored as the 2020 SEC Player of the Year and made the cut in the Masters as an amateur.

Playing in the 2021 Fortinet Championship on a sponsor’s exemption, Augenstein made the most out of his opportunity. The Wilson staffer finished T6 thanks to ranking 3rd in the field in SG: Approach.

Other Breakout Candidates Around the World

  • Sean Crocker (European Tour)
  • Matthias Schmid (European Tour and Challenge Tour)
  • Taylor Montgomery (Korn Ferry Tour)

Of the six PGA Tour breakout candidates showcased, four are in position to strike as they’re armed with full status. In the case of Sahith Theegala and John Augenstein, they’ve got some work to do.

Looking around other tours trying to find the next rising star, the names listed above are worth keeping tabs on.

Crocker is a known commodity in Europe having finished 2nd three times since the start of 2019. Matthias Schmid just turned pro in June and has already been in contention several times. Most recently, Schmid finished solo-second at the Dutch Open.

Finally, Taylor Montgomery’s story has been well documented.

The KFT player missed out on securing PGA Tour status in heartbreaking fashion – Montgomery finished 26th on the regular-season points list and the KFT Finals list. The top-25 finishers on each list were granted a PGA Tour card.

Don’t feel too badly for Taylor though folks. He made well over $300,000 this past season playing golf and has full rein at Shadow Creek. Things aren’t so bad.

Michael Wynn
Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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