The Most Underrated Golfers on The PGA Tour
The PGA Tour has produced names such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Scottie Scheffler, all of whom have risen to the very top of their sport. Undoubtedly these stars deserve special praise and mention because of their envious skill, but there are a series of players who don’t quite receive the recognition they deserve.
Understandably, it’s difficult to stand out when there are many superstars around you, but there is a certain group of players who are arguably underappreciated on tour. Below, we speak extensively about five figures who can be deemed as underrated before highlighting why you should keep a keen eye on them.
Corey Conners has become a bit of a cult hero over the last few years. He still doesn’t receive the true recognition that his golf game deserves, but for the fans he has won over, he’s done it in expert fashion. The Canadian fails to dominate the statistics in any one area, but his all-round performance is something that goes relatively unnoticed. Remarkably, the 31-year-old only has two professional wins - securing victory in the Valera Texas Open on two occasions, 2019 and 2023.
Nevertheless, one victory, five top 10s, 14 top 25s out of 24 starts for the 2023 season is impressive and demonstrates the importance of being comfortable with every element of your golf game. Conners evidently feels special about Augusta National, finishing T10, T8 and T6 for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022. However, his lack of muscle in the other major championships - he’s never made a U.S. Open cut - would indicate there’s still room for improvement. Will the 2024 season bring his first prominent title?
Through a collection of important wins, Max Homa has risen to ultimate prominence - but there’s a section of the golf fanbase that don’t quite realise just how good the Californian is. He played in 24 events during the 2023 season and won twice, recorded 11 top 10s and finished within the top 25 on 16 occasions. The data suggests that Homa recorded a top 25 finish in 66% of his starts last season; if you consider the quality of the PGA Tour field, that is an exceptional accomplishment.
So, what does Homa excel at? Across the last 12 months, the American has been phenomenal on the par threes - better than anyone else on tour! He leads the tour for Par 3 Scoring Average, Par 3 Birdie or Better and Bounce Back - which means he follows a bogey or worse with a birdie or better. The only concern - and it is valid - are his major championship performances. In 16 major championships as a professional, Homa has made just one top 10 and missed the cut on eight occasions. Once the 32-year-old can find his deadly rhythm in the four annual majors, there’s no reason why he can’t become an esteemed major champion imminently.
In only his second full season as a PGA Tour member, Kurt Kitayama was victorious in arguably one of the biggest non-major events on tour - the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Not only was his win so impressive, but to conquer a field as good as that and around the notoriously difficult Bay Hill - a venue that Tiger Woods has recorded eight wins at - is even sweeter. At the age of 30, there are areas of improvement but we must also remember that the 2024 season will only be his third full year on tour, so there’s still so much to learn.
Generally, the American will be content with how his season played out, posting four top 10 finishes out of 24 starts. Furthermore, a T4 finish at the PGA Championship will undoubtedly boost his confidence ahead of the four majors for the 2024 season, but he did miss the cut at both the Masters and the U.S. Open. It will be interesting to see how Kitayama develops over the next 12 months and if he can make the Tour Championship for the first time in his career, having narrowly missed out on a trip to East Lake for the 2023 campaign.
Russell Henley is your bread-and-butter golfer. His consistency goes unnoticed because he isn’t necessarily spectacular or doesn’t come out with controversial quotes in the press. His feet are firmly planted on the ground and he utilises his golfing brain, which isn’t something that every professional golfer can lean on. The 34-year-old has recorded seven professional wins - including four on the PGA Tour - although he did have to wait five years between his penultimate and last win, finally breaking the trend with victory at the World Wide Technology Championship in 2022.
That would be the American’s sole win throughout the latest campaign, but he displayed his consistency through many excellent finishes. In 24 starts, he finished within the top 25 on 12 occasions - which equates to 50%. That alone should highlight that Henley doesn’t only know his golf game well, but he understands how to perform when the magic may have abandoned him. Finishing 20th in the FedEx Cup is a testament to his season-long form, but there’s another big victory in him somewhere - can it be a major championship?
When Sahith Theegala broke onto the scene and led deep into the Waste Management Phoenix Open, it appeared that every golf fan was rooting for the rookie. Whilst a victory never materialised, he did prove that he belongs on the harrowing yet exceptionally rewarding PGA Tour stage. Out of 29 starts for the 2023 season, Theegala recorded seven top 10s and 12 top 25s, which helped him to finish in 34th in the FedEx Cup standing and miss out on East Lake by four mere positions.
Theegala's first professional victory came at the QBE Shootout. He teamed up with fellow compatriot Tom Hoge as they defeated Charley Hoffman and Ryan Palmer by a sole stroke. Unfortunately, it didn't qualify as an official PGA Tour event, but the 25-year-old rectified that when he clinched the Fortinet Championship in September. No doubt he’ll have his eyes on a more exclusive circle and it will be fascinating to see if Theegala can add his name to golfing elite. All five players in this list have failed to win a major championship but they have demonstrated why they belong on the PGA Tour.
We must not forget the length of their journeys too; golfers such as Kitayama and Theegala have only played on the PGA Tour for two full seasons. Do you think all five will finish their careers with a glittering trophy cabinet or will one prove to be a diamond in the rough?
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