Watching new names come to the fore always provides some fascinating talking points throughout the season. It’s not easy predicting who will make an immediate impact, such is the strength on both the European Tour and PGA Tour.
Nevertheless, one or two rookies have hit the ground running. There are still several tour cards up for grabs, as the European Tour’s Qualifying School reaches its conclusion in November.
With that in mind, we’ve identified six rookies to watch out for in 2020. We’ve also asked Bernard Gallacher for his thoughts on each…
Viktor Hovland (NOR)
The jovial 22-year-old Norwegian seems to be well ahead of the curve. So much is already expected from Hovland, who caught the eye as a low amateur at The Masters in April.
The Oklahoma State graduate secured his PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where two strong finishes in the first two Finals events were enough to get the job done.
It says something about his extraordinary talent that it would be no great surprise to see him make the Ryder Cup team next year. The fearless Hovland recently set a PGA Tour record in the opening round of the CJ Cup in South Korea, where he shot a three-under par 69 for his eighteenth consecutive round in the sixties.
Europe’s captain, Padraig Harrington, is certainly taking notice. The Irishman made a point of playing with the former U.S. Amateur champion at the BMW PGA Championship in September, where Hovland made his first European Tour appearance as a pro.
He was hugely impressive at Wentworth, too, finishing in a tie for eleventh. A win in his rookie season would be no great shock.
Bernard Gallacher: Viktor is a long hitter and is a good putter. These are prerequisites for succeeding in the modern game. He’s a former world number 1 amateur golfer, which shows he has a good temperament. He’s heading for the top.
Scottie Scheffler (USA)
Here’s another name we’ll be hearing a lot in the years to come. The 23-year-old Texan accumulated two wins, 10 top 10 finishes and missed just four cuts over the course of the season on the Korn Ferry Tour.
With an attacking style, he led the way in birdies and scoring average and took the number one spot on both The 25 and The Finals 25.
Already in the world’s top 100, the University of Texas graduate finished tied for seventh at the Greenbrier in September, where he shot a 62 to take a share of the lead in just his second round as a PGA Tour member.
Bernard Gallacher: Scottie played college golf at the University of Texas and is a former Walker Cup player with strong credentials. Winning Player of the Year at last year’s Korn Ferry Tour and securing his card for the PGA Tour showed he has the potential to succeed at the highest level .
Kristoffer Ventura (NOR)
Born in Mexico, at age 12 Ventura moved to Norway, where he continued to play golf. Ten years later, he finds himself in Florida competing on the PGA Tour.
Ventura, who turned professional in 2018, enjoyed two Korn Ferry victories in 2019 to earn his PGA Tour card. He was a college teammate of fellow countryman Hovland and shares many of the same attacking qualities. What a Ryder Cup pairing this could be one day…
Bernard Gallacher: Kristoffer has a Mexican father and Norwegian mother, which is good news as it means he can play for Europe in the Ryder Cup. His consistency on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he made 15 cuts out of 22 starts, means he’s qualified for the main Tour next season. He’s definitely one to watch in 2020.
Michael Gligic (CAN)
Years of hard work finally paid off for Gligic this year, when the Canadian secured a PGA Tour card. At 30, he has plenty of experience to call on and has the ability to close out a tournament.
His sole win came at the Panamá Championship in February, but don’t rule out another coming on the big stage – especially now the pressure of securing a card has been released, for the time being at least.
Bernard Gallacher: Michael is certainly a tall golfer at 6’4″. His consistent play over the whole season, finishing 17th on the Merit list, secured his card. At 30 years old, he has some ground to make up, but he has the game to make his experience count.
Tom Lewis (ENG)
The experienced Englishman will be a PGA Tour rookie this year, courtesy of his victory at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. In many ways, however, Lewis – who finished tied for eleventh in The Open this year – is anything but a rookie.
Lewis, now 28, was quick out the blocks after turning professional, winning the Portugal Masters and claiming the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award in 2011.
The man from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire has experienced a fair few highs and lows since then. However, with two European Tour victories to his name – including another Portugal Masters title last year – he’ll have nothing to fear on the PGA Tour.
Bernard Gallacher: Tom’s outstanding performance in the Korn Ferry Tour Championships, where he won by 5 strokes, means he can play both the PGA Tour and European Tour in 2020. He’s undoubtedly a potential Ryder Cup player, but he will have to get his schedule right to maximise his opportunities.
Robin Roussel (FRA)
The 28-year-old Frenchman has already secured his playing rights on the European Tour following some strong performances on the Challenge Tour. These include a first win in June and on home soil at the Hauts de France Pas de Calais Golf Open.
Having finished runner-up at the Hainan Open recently, Roussel has now set his sights on topping the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca Rankings.
Whether he manages to do so or not, Roussel will be looking to draw inspiration from former graduates who’ve enjoyed successful years on the main Tour.
He said in a recent interview: “We have seen Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre, Romain Langasque and some others, like Sebastian Soderberg, play well this year and it brings me a lot of confidence because it shows that everybody who jumped from Challenge Tour to the European Tour can perform straight away.”
Bernard Gallacher: Robin can look forward to playing on next season’s European Tour after a successful season on the last year’s Challenge Tour, winning on home soil in Calais. At 28 years old, he has plenty of experience, but he now needs to take his game to the next level.