Which PGA Tour LIV players could be breakout stars Who

Which PGA Tour, LIV players could be breakout stars? Who needs a big 2024 most? – The athlete

We made it. Golf's long offseason (a month or so, give or take depends on your feelings on the Hero World Challenge) is over, and the 2024 PGA Tour season begins this week in Kapalua.

While professional men's golf never goes by long enough to truly miss, there's real reason to look forward to The Sentry. Firstly, it's the best collection of talent we've seen since the Tour Championship. Second, it's in Hawaii, which means you're playing prime-time golf in a sunny spot while most of us are bundled up somewhere much colder. There are worse ways to spend the weekend.

Looking ahead to the start of the season, our golf team came together to answer some pressing questions about the sport, which meant PGA Tour and LIV players were ready for the taking.

Who needs a big 2024 most?

Müller: Collin Morikawa. It was as crucial for Morikawa to turn things around as he did to finish the 2023 regular season and then win a fall event in Japan and put himself back in the conversation as a top-five golfer on the PGA Tour bring. He turns 27 this year, and while those two big wins certainly won't amount to anything, Morikawa himself would say the 2022 and 2023 seasons were disappointments.

He's one of the most talented golfers in the world and one of the tour's biggest stars, but in reality he's never played like a true top player week in and week out. He was more of a rising star who was able to showcase his immense talent – and that distinct 'it' factor – to secure majors victories at Harding Park and Royal St George's. But the last two years he has finished outside the top 20 in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, showing he has not been a consistent golfer in the regular season. We all know how good Morikawa is. He could be the best. However, at a certain point you are no longer the young generation. You'll be 27. You'll be overtaken by contemporaries like Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland and have to take your place as an elite player.

The good news? It really seems like he's turned things around. He was almost over the moon about how he thought he had solved something in his swing, sorted out some back problems and was playing some of his best golf at the end of 2023. I think this is a big year for him.

Dustin Johnson's performance in 2023 was not up to his standard. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Kellenberger: Dustin Johnson. He won't be 40 until after the US Open. He is the last man not named McIlroy, Scheffler or Rahm to be number 1 in the world. We're still not far away from Johnson winning a green jacket and going 5-0 in a Ryder Cup. But in the six majors since moving to LIV he has achieved T24, T6, T48, T55, T10 and one missed cut and was never in contention on the weekend. Because of this, and LIV's ongoing viewership deficits, Johnson has fallen out of sight and out of mind for golf fans. He's too young for that and has too much left.

Johnson's legacy in the game is secure and he may be happy with the work-life balance at the moment, but it would be disappointing if he were really done contributing to it – and winning one LIV event a year is for no one but that LIV bots matter. It's all about the majors for Johnson right now, and winning his third in 2024 would be a big deal (in addition to winning at Augusta National in 2020, he also played well at Pinehurst and Royal Troon).

Quinn: The instinct here was to point to the return of Will Zalatoris, but then I realized that for some reason Cameron Young still hasn't had an actual PGA Tour victory. Like everyone else, I expected a dynamic 2023 season from the 2022 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Young wanted to get into the top 10 discussion and secure a spot on the Ryder Cup team. It just has to be realized. Instead, in a frustrating season, Young spent several late Friday afternoons making birdies just to break through. A largely forgettable year included a 73rd-place finish in the final round of the Open Championship to finish T8. No one could have imagined at the start of the season that he would miss East Lake.

No one questions Young's talent, but at 26, you actually want to see him win. You can imagine him doing that too. Young was particularly candid at the BMW Championship last summer when he said he wanted to grade his 2023 season with a C-, calling it “mediocre golf.” He also said that he deserved a grade of B because he overcame his problems and improved in some areas that were not producing results. This is a season where everything has to come together for Young, because the alternative is a growing gap between him and a class of players we thought were his contemporaries.

Who will be the breakout star of 2024?

Müller: Min Woo Lee. For golf nerds, Lee may have already broken through, but this year the 25-year-old Australian will become a household name. The best breakouts are the ones that have been bubbling under the surface for a while but have never quite caught your attention.

This is Lee. At 23, he won the Scottish Open and has already finished in the top 25 at all four majors. And the last eight months seemed to be a transition phase that almost all great golfers go through before they really explode (think Scheffler, the makes it to the top 20 and dominates the Ryder Cup in 2021).

After finishing 6th at the Players, Lee went on a truly impressive run: 18th at the PGA Championship, 5th at the US Open and 41st at the Open Championship before claiming international victories in Macao and the Australian PGA Championship (against a strong field). , I might add). While he hasn't won on the PGA Tour yet, he has quietly risen to No. 19 in the DataGolf rankings, a good indicator of who is playing the most sustained golf. So this should be the year of Min Woo.

Finally, enjoy this beautiful shot on the way to his Australian victory.

Kellenberger: The immediate and obvious answer here is Ludvig Aberg, so much so that I wanted to defend myself against it. It just felt so obvious that I wondered if he was a star yet. But…he's a star in the golf sick world. Anywhere else? Not that many – Aberg's Instagram follower count is half that of Adam Scott, which is perhaps anecdotal, but also a good barometer of where an athlete stands in the broader landscape. Many golf fans first got to know Aberg at the Ryder Cup last year. So 2024 will be a huge opportunity for him – he will finally take part in his first major championships and be noticed and seen by casual players.

And they'll be amazed by what they see – Aberg may be a golf ball driver of a generation, and the 24-year-old Swede has adapted to professional golf as well as anyone we've seen in years. Every part of his game is good enough to win right now, and some of it is exceptional. Everything seems possible.

Quinn: You're right Hugh, Aberg is too obvious an answer. He's already a star. We saw that in Rome.

But do you know who isn't? Fellow Swede 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 of 65 and won the Barbasol Championship in a playoff. Since turning pro in June 2021, Norrman is ranked 1,018th. climbed to 71st in the world but has managed to exist in relative anonymity. That changes in 2024. Like Aberg, Norrman is extremely long and extremely straight off the tee, rounding out his game the rest of the way too.

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

Whose stocks are you selling for 2024?

Müller: Wyndham Clark. Maybe that's not a bold decision. I happen to be someone who bought a lot of Clark stock last summer, and I'm ready to sell it for some profit. I tend to fall in love with players who were reliable in all other areas and then “fix” their mistake, and the way Clark corrected his ball striking made him a real top prospect in the 2023 season. 10 PGA Tour player. There was nothing fraudulent about making the cut at every single high-level event, winning the high-level Wells Fargo Championship, and then wowing us all with an incredible performance at the US Open at LACC. Before 2023, he struggled to keep his PGA Tour card, so I think Clark remains a pretty solid golfer by that metric.

But is he actually one of the 15 best players on tour? One of the 20? My husband just played on a Ryder Cup team, so the level is suddenly much higher. This is the year he shows us. He didn't perform particularly well in Rome (somehow he lost 7.86 strokes from tee to green) and his emotional game can often cause him to fall far when things go wrong. I hope Clark can continue to be the golfer that makes it to the Tour Championship every year. I'm just not confident.

Kellenberger: One day we'll look back at Lucas Glover's eleventh-hour pleas to make the Ryder Cup team and it will all seem strange. With all due respect to Glover, who overcame the putting yips and won twice in August, I just don't think he will remain one of the PGA Tour's best players for a month in 2023. This is far more likely. This was a great hit and not a sign that the 44-year-old Glover would embark on a renaissance tour at the end of his career that included multiple tour wins and major competitions. In the two full-field contests Glover competed in during the fall season, he was T44 and T59, so it may already be over.

Müller: But! There was never a time in Glover's career when he wasn't a good ball hitter and driver. He averaged about half a stroke in both categories. Assuming the putting stays about the same, I have every confidence he'll be back in Atlanta next year.

Quinn: Cameron Smith ended the 2023 calendar with negative strokes scored in five of his last seven events, a detail that may not sound too alarming until he realizes that it will be difficult to find another elite player in the world, which is nowhere near as worrying. Yes, that includes his LIV win at Bedminster in August, but for the purposes of this exercise and to figure out which top players might not be worth running with at the 2024 majors, it's worth considering Smith's recent form .

This should be an interesting summer for Smith. Entering 2022, he was widely considered the best player in LIV's squad. Since then, Brooks Koepka won a major, Talor Gooch won his singles championship, Bryson DeChambeau returned to form and, most notably, Jon Rahm ousted everyone as LIV's headliner. Smith now appears to find himself 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 is certainly no less talented today. But as with all LIV players, his achievements in the majors become even more important.

(Top photos of (left to right) Lucas Glover, Min Woo Lee and Collin Morikawa: Lintao Zhang, Gregory Shamus and Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images)