An eventful President’s Cup is over and we have a few weeks before the tour heads out to Hawaii to tee it up for the official start of the golf year in 2020. Here at RotoViz, we like to think that we can uncover some hidden gems or guys under the radar. Whether it’s something like the Zero-RB Report or the excellent devy content, we try to gain an edge wherever we can. I figured our PGA content should be no different. So, I set out to find some golfers worth highlighting that are under 30 and outside of the top 50 in the OWGR.
Quick Refresher on Power Ranking
Some of the visuals I’m going to use reference something called “Power Ranking.” I wrote an introduction to Power Ranking when I rolled it out in July. The too long; didn’t read version is that Power Ranking (PRK) takes into account how a golfer has scored relative to a few factors.1 Then, we blend those numbers over various time frames. It’s worth noting that the rounds counted are only from PGA events and don’t take into account how guys are playing on other tours. It’s a weakness of the model in certain situations but, by and large, the golfers who we’re most likely to talk about play primarily in the US.
Example from 2018
Abraham Ancer was a bit of a breakout star from the Presidents Cup. He was tied for the top point earner on his team as a debutant in the event. Ancer was on the rise in 2018. He started the year as 272nd in the OWGR and was 60th when the year came to a close.
This is the way his Power Ranking score was trending as 2018 wrapped up. In 2019, he continued to trend up and will start the year as 38th in the OWGR.
Dylan Frittelli (#104 OWGR)
You may remember Frittelli from winning the John Deere Classic this past summer. It was a breakthrough victory in a season that saw him struggle a bit and actually drop in OWGR since the end of last year. The victory, though, secured his card and the Priority Category he’s in now will essentially allow him to make his schedule however he wants as the season rolls along. Golfers are placed in different priority categories based on different career and recent achievements. There are only about 30 people above him on the list for any given tournament.
After some struggles at the beginning of his career, he started to put together some consistent performances. Frittelli has stayed as an “above average” golfer for nearly the last 100 rounds. He’ll turn 30 during the upcoming season.2 If he continues his ascent, he could be a stable in the mid-$8,000 range through much of the summer. Frittelli’s current PRK score is -1.2. Golfers who make a start with a PRK score between -1.5 and -1 have historically fared well. They finish in the top 10 about 20% of the time and crack the top 20 nearly 35% of the time.
Denny McCarthy (#144 OWGR)
McCarthy is 26 years old and has 106 professional starts under his belt. You’ll see below that he’s been above average for quite a while, at least 150 PGA rounds or so.
He was a bit boom-or-bust last year. McCarthy played 29 events and made 18 cuts. In those 18 made cuts, though, he finished inside of the top 40 all but once. He even added on four top 10 finishes. It’s also worth noting that the Takoma Park, MD native will only turn 27 around The PLAYERS Championship. McCarthy’s PRK Score will be -1.54 when he tees it up for the first time in 2020. He’s admittedly only on the cusp of the -2 to -1.5 group, but that cohort has performed quite well, historically. Golfers in that group finish in the top five just under 20% of the time and in the top 20 at a whopping 48% clip.
McCarthy has briefly hit the -2.5 to -2 PRK Group in his career. He’s trending up once again and could be closer to -2 as the weather starts to warm up. If that’s the case, we’re looking at a guy that could end up in the low $9,000 range in certain spots. This is super deep into the weeds, but his worst putting surface is poa. Poa will be making plenty of early appearances on Tour through the Cali Swing. If he struggles through some of those, don’t be scared to jump back in when they head to TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, as that’ll be the first bermudagrass greens he’ll have seen in a while.
Scottie Scheffler (#67 OWGR)
The last guy we’ll discuss is the youngest of the group. Scheffler will turn 24 in June and is a Texas native. We’re drawn to players that produce when they’re young in other sports and golf should be no exception. Between the PGA and Korn Ferry Tours last year, Scheffler was impressive.
He alternated between PGA and KFT events throughout most of the year and played well no matter which tour he was on at that moment. Scheffler won two KFT events and finished runner-up in a couple more. He added three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour in the Fall Swing alone. Scheffler is probably the biggest wild card on this list. We have a really small sample on him and we don’t really know his ceiling. Scheffler has won at lower levels and seems to have figured some things out in the short time we’ve seen him. I’m a bit more cautious with his projection. I see prices in the $7,500 – $8,500 range in his near-future and an ascent into the top 50 by the end of the year.