12/14/2016

From Jimmy Walker in 2014 to Brooks Koepka in 2015, underrated golfers pop-up each and every year. Both Walker and Koepka were underrated golfers that went on to claim a big victory on the PGA Tour. Their win on the PGA Tour firmly established them as a contender on Tour each week.

Without question, this year’s class of breakthrough stars is a very impressive group. Some have already started to make a big names for themselves on Tour.

Here are the top five underrated golfers I expect to make it big in 2017:

1. Smylie Kaufman

smylie kaufman

Most PGA Tour observers feel Smylie Kaufman is an absolute birdie machine. And the stats back it up.

In his rookie season, Kaufman ranked 25th in making birdies, a number which bodes well for staying in contention through the weekend. Kaufman’s highlights for 2016 was a come-from-behind victory at the Shriners and somehow working his way into Sunday’s final group at the Masters with tournament leader Jordan Spieth.

The lone disappointment was a lingering wrist injury that caused Kaufman to miss quality practice time on the tour’s tougher courses. It’s important for him to stay healthy in 2017, as he has a very realistic chance of breaking into the top-25 world rankings this season.

2. Andrew “Beef” Johnston

beef johnston

When we last saw golf’s latest cult hero, Andrew “Beef” Johnston, he was in the midst of receiving a standing ovation from the patrons of the 18th green at Royal Troon after tying for eighth place at the Open Championship. An international television audience became captivated with Johnston’s every shot on that fateful Sunday as a star was born.

Since that moment, the legend of the Beef has continued to grow, and 2017 could be his time to shine.

There’s no guarantee that becoming a rookie on the PGA Tour is the best course for Johnston’s career, because he must effectively balance his time on two tours after committing to playing a number events on the European Tour. One bad season has the potential to throw a career off course, but Beef has proven not to wilt under pressure.

He’ll be a player to watch in 2017.

3. Wesley Bryan

wesley bryan

Wesley Bryan caught everyone’s attention by achieving a rare feat in professional golf last season.

Bryan won three tournaments on the Web.com Tour, which earned him a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour. This is a very impressive accomplishment for a golfer that continuously struggles to keep his tee shot on the fairway. If improvement isn’t achieved, Bryan’s below average striking numbers could deter his potential on the tour.

4. Grayson Murray

grayson murray

Grayson Murray is heading into his rookie season on the PGA Tour as a bit of an unknown in comparison to the other underrated stars. However, Murray could have the last laugh by being the lone candidate with multiple tournament wins in 2017. He is probably the best all-around golfer that the average fan hasn’t heard of. Murray led the Web.com Tour in birdie average and top 10 finishes. He was fourth in driving distance off the tee and second on the tour’s total earnings list. All of these statistical numbers project success for Murray heading into 2017.

He name could be considered in “the best all-around golfer that the average fan hasn’t heard of.” Murray led the Web.com Tour in birdie average and top-10 finishes in his time spent preparing for the PGA Tour. He was fourth in driving distance off the tee and second on the tour’s total earnings list. All of these statistical numbers project success for Murray heading into 2017.

All of these statistical numbers project success for Murray heading into 2017.

5. C.T. Pan

CT Pan

C.T. Pan earned some recognition by his early-round performance at the Rio Summer Olympics. Pan’s back-to-back 69 put him into contention for a medal heading into the weekend before his struggles got the best of him. The true golf junkie isn’t surprised by Pan’s success, as he’s a former top amateur that qualified for three U.S. Open Championships and made the cut in two of those tournaments. His inner confidence transpired well on the Web.com Tour, Pan finished with seven top 10 finishes and was considered the best ball-striker on the tour.

Pan’s back-to-back 69 put him into contention for a medal heading into the weekend before his struggles got the best of him. The true golf junkie isn’t surprised by Pan’s success, as he’s a former top amateur that qualified for three U.S. Open Championships and made the cut in two of those tournaments. His inner confidence transpired well on the Web.com Tour, Pan finished with seven top 10 finishes and was considered the best ball-striker on the tour.

His inner confidence transpired well on the Web.com Tour, Pan finished with seven top-10 finishes and was considered the best ball-striker on the Tour.

He’s small in stature, but big in game. We’ll be watching him.