PGA

The fall Tour’s breakout stars

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The fall Tour may not be especially glamorous. But it can provide an exceptional proving ground for aspiring young professionals on the way up.

Each year, fall tour events are transformed into showpieces at which lesser-knowns can become well-knowns. Several players who won their first Tour victory during the fall tour are now established Tour presences.

The 2021-22 fall Tour is likely to be no exception. Four of the nine winners were age 25 or under; in the cases of seven, the win was the first, second or third of their careers. That includes Lucas Herbert at Bermuda and Talor Gooch at the RSM, both first-time champions.

We can use a handful of yardsticks to project which players appear, based on their fall showings, poised to make the largest climbs toward the Tour’s elite this season. One of those yardsticks is the standard deviation of the champion’s performance relative to the field. Players who consistently perform at a rate a half standard deviation or better compared with their peers are almost guaranteed to be consistent top 20 presences.

But it’s also worth looking at how much improvement players have made in the most important Strokes Gained categories. That’s especially true of Strokes Gained Off The Tee and Strokes Gained Approaching the green, the two categories that year after year produce the strongest correlation with stroke average.

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The following is an assessment of nine players who, based on their fall showings, appear ready for breakthrough 2021-22 seasons. In a handful of cases, the players have already established themselves on Tour, so the breakthrough we’re talking about is one that would project them into Major contender status.

In most instances, though, we’re looking at up-and-comers, twenty-somethings demonstrating that they can rise from the mass to contender status.

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