2021-22 Golf Draft Kit: Rookies to Watch

2021-22 Golf Draft Kit: Rookies to Watch

This article is part of our Golf Draft Kit series.

All of this year's rookies are joining the PGA Tour from the Korn Ferry Tour, either finishing in the top 25 of the regular season or top 25 at the Korn Ferry Finals. Here's a rundown on the first-year tour players, ranked by 2021-22 projected earnings.

Mito Pereira 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,750,000 

A three-time champion on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020-21, Pereira's victories included back-to-back triumphs at the REX Hospital Open and the BMW Charity Pro-Am in June before his battlefield promotion to the big stage. The Chilean kept his foot on the gas all summer, notching top-6s at the Barbasol Championship and 3M Open ahead of his T4 effort at the Olympics in Tokyo. It wouldn't be surprising to see Pereira heavily in the mix for 2022 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors this time next year.

Greyson Sigg 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,400,000 

Sigg found the winner's circle at the Korn Ferry Tour's Visit Knoxville Open and the Boise Open to finish top-6 on both the regular season and finals points lists. The Augusta, Ga., native was fourth in the KFT's all-around ranking, eighth in scrambling and 15th in GIR percentage. Sigg also posted top-15s at the PGA Tour's Corales Championship and Barracuda Championship in 2021.

Chad Ramey 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,350,000 

Ramey finished behind only Will Zalatoris in actual scoring average on the way to 24 total top-25s and a whopping 40 made cuts in 43 events played during the Korn Ferry Tour's

All of this year's rookies are joining the PGA Tour from the Korn Ferry Tour, either finishing in the top 25 of the regular season or top 25 at the Korn Ferry Finals. Here's a rundown on the first-year tour players, ranked by 2021-22 projected earnings.

Mito Pereira 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,750,000 

A three-time champion on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020-21, Pereira's victories included back-to-back triumphs at the REX Hospital Open and the BMW Charity Pro-Am in June before his battlefield promotion to the big stage. The Chilean kept his foot on the gas all summer, notching top-6s at the Barbasol Championship and 3M Open ahead of his T4 effort at the Olympics in Tokyo. It wouldn't be surprising to see Pereira heavily in the mix for 2022 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors this time next year.

Greyson Sigg 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,400,000 

Sigg found the winner's circle at the Korn Ferry Tour's Visit Knoxville Open and the Boise Open to finish top-6 on both the regular season and finals points lists. The Augusta, Ga., native was fourth in the KFT's all-around ranking, eighth in scrambling and 15th in GIR percentage. Sigg also posted top-15s at the PGA Tour's Corales Championship and Barracuda Championship in 2021.

Chad Ramey 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,350,000 

Ramey finished behind only Will Zalatoris in actual scoring average on the way to 24 total top-25s and a whopping 40 made cuts in 43 events played during the Korn Ferry Tour's super season, which included a win at the 2021 Live and Work in Maine Open. Ramey also ranked seventh or better among his KFT peers in birdie average, GIR percentage and driving accuracy. However, he's made only two career appearances on the PGA Tour dating to his 2015 debut at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. On the bright side, Ramey hasn't missed a single cut since the KFT's Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship in August of 2020.

Taylor Moore 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,250,000 

Placing top-25 in more than half of his 39 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020-21, Moore earns a PGA Tour card for the first time thanks in large part to a win at the Memorial Health Championship in July, which preceded a runner-up result the following week at the Price Cutter Charity Championship. Moore added two more top-10s during the KFT Finals, ultimately ending the season fourth in scoring average, fifth in ball striking and sixth in scrambling.

Alex Smalley 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,200,000 

Smalley found success all over the place in summer as he notched three top-15s on the Forme Tour, top-50s at the John Deere Classic and Wyndham Championship and finally two top-15s during the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to earn his first PGA Tour card. The 24-year-old Duke product and former Walker Cup participant is a legitimate candidate to make some noise as a rookie.

Nick Hardy 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,200,000 

Hardy, who was named Big Ten Player of the Year on the way to First-Team All American honors in 2018 at the University of Illinois, posted 19 top-25s on the Korn Ferry Tour throughout the 2020-21 super season. He also made the cut in both of his PGA Tour starts, finishing T14-T42 at the Sony Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open. It should also be noted that he ranked second on the KFT in ball striking and 10th in the all-around ranking, so Hardy definitely has potential to be one of the better rookies at the PGA level.

Sahith Theegala 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,175,000 

Theegala rebounded from a missed cut in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals opener by finishing T4-6 at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and the KFT Championship, securing his status as a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2021-22. He's already made 13 career starts at the PGA level, however, highlighted by a T14 at the 2020 Safeway Open. The 23-year-old came to prominence as an amateur during his time at Pepperdine University, where he was the unanimous National Player of the Year in 2020.

Taylor Pendrith 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,100,000 

Pendrith earns a PGA Tour card via his ranking of fifth on the Korn Ferry Tour's regular season points list, but he also tallied a trio of top-25s at the PGA level in 2020-21. Pendrith notched four runner-ups on the KFT, including three in a row last summer from the TPC San Antonio Challenge at the Canyons through the Pinnacle Bank Championship. Given his KFT ranking of third in driving distance, the Canadian's upside is evident.

Aaron Rai 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $1,050,000 

Although he'll be considered a rookie on the PGA Tour, Rai already owns two career wins on the European Tour since 2018. The 26-year-old Englishman also posted a top-20 result at the 2021 Open Championship in addition to respectable performances at the WGC-Workday Championship and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He earned his PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, highlighted by a T2 at the Albertsons Boise Open. On the Euro Tour in 2021, Rai ranks 26th or better in GIR percentage and driving accuracy.

Hayden Buckley 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $905,000 

Buckley used a T4 at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship to earn his first PGA Tour card while also ascending to a career-best 244th in the Official World Golf Ranking ahead of the fall series. The 25-year-old ranked third on the Korn Ferry Tour in ball striking and ninth in GIR percentage in 2020-21, so he could gain traction in daily fantasy formats as a potential sleeper, though inexperience is a factor.

Davis Riley 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $875,000 

Riley is a former junior golf prodigy, who won four consecutive state titles in Mississippi before attending the University of Alabama where he became a two-time All-American. He recorded just one top-10 in 18 starts during his first year on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019, but Riley picked up a pair of victories in 2020-21 at the Panama Championship and the TPC San Antonio Championship at the Oaks. Riley has slipped outside the top 300 in the Official World Golf Ranking, however, failing to notch a top-10 finish since May's AdventHealth Championship.

Matthias Schwab 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $625,000 

Schwab made less than $10K on the PGA Tour last season, but the 26-year-old Austrian has compiled six top-15s on the European Tour through August in 2021. His best career performance on the PGA Tour came back in August of 2020 when he tied for third at the Barracuda Championship. Schwab also made his way to Tokyo for the Olympic Games this summer, tying for 27th in Japan.

Austin Smotherman 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $605,000 

Smotherman clutched up with three straight finishes of T26 or better to end the regular season on the Korn Ferry Tour just inside the top 25 of the points list, ultimately securing his card for the first time. His ball-striking metrics indicate it shouldn't have been such a sweat for the SMU product, however, as he ranked seventh on the KFT in GIR percentage and eighth in total driving. Such quality tee-to-green play represents a high ceiling, though his short-game struggles might cause a handful of missed cuts at the PGA Tour level as he adjusts to new venues.

Brandon Wu 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $540,000 

It's now been just about a calendar year since Wu won the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour Championship, which came two weeks after his T2 at the Boise Open. Wu also added his maiden top-10 on the PGA Tour at the 2021 Puerto Rico Open where he played his first 36 holes in 11-under par. Among his peers on the KFT, the Stanford product ranked sixth in GIR percentage and seventh in ball striking.

Callum Tarren 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $520,000 

Tarren's only prior PGA Tour experience came at the 2019 U.S. Open where he posted opening rounds of 73-75 to miss the cut, but he's earned a card for the upcoming season via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals where he tied for fourth at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship The Englishman notched 16 total top-25s on the KFT in 2020-21, ultimately ranking top-20 in GIR percentage driving distance and actual scoring average.

Curtis Thompson 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $490,000 

Thompson won the Korn Ferry Tour's 2020 Evans Scholars Invitational and helped solidify his ranking among the top 25 on the regular season points list with a runner-up performance at the Wichita Open this June. During his lone PGA Tour appearance in 2021, Thompson tied for 21st at the Rocket Mortgage Classic where he gained more than four strokes with the flat stick. The putter was less impressive for Thompson throughout the KFT season, though he ranked 10th in driving distance and 23rd in GIR percentage.

Max McGreevy 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $488,000 

Having won the 2020 Price Cutter Charity Championship to go along with solo runner-up honors at the Club Car Championship in late March, McGreevy managed to finish 14th on the Korn Ferry Tour regular season points list despite missing 19 cuts in 41 starts. A former two-time All-American as an Oklahoma Sooner, McGreevy amassed seven total top-10s on the KFT in 2020-21, but he ranked just 63rd in ball striking and 49th in GIR percentage.

Dylan Wu 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $462,000 

Wu's lone PGA Tour appearance throughout the entire 2020-21 campaign came at a major championship, and he even made the cut before ultimately tying for 31st at the U.S. Open hosted by Torrey Pines. Wu essentially earned a PGA Tour card for the upcoming season via his win at the Korn Ferry Tour's Price Cutter Charity Championship in late July, where he was three strokes shy of reaching 30-under par for the tournament.

David Lipsky 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $435,000 

Lipsky has never appeared in more than five events in a single PGA Tour season, but a T8 at June's Palmetto Championship earned him a six-figure paycheck for the first time at this level. On the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020-21, Lipsky finished 12th on the regular season points list with three second-place results and a win at the 2020 TPC San Antonio Challenge at the Canyons. Lipsky also recently tied for fourth at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship during the second leg of the KFT Finals.

Kurt Kitayama 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $415,000 

The American-born UNLV product has won twice on the European Tour since 2018, but he'll now be eligible for more stateside events after securing a PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Kitayama was ranked as high as 66th in the Official World Golf Ranking in early 2020, but he's since fallen just outside the top 150.

Lee Hodges 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $415,000 

Hodges collected a couple of top-15 results at the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open and the Barracuda Championship, but the highlight of his 2020-21 campaign came on the Korn Ferry Tour when he won the WinCo Foods Portland Open last August. Hodges made the cut in more than 30 of his 37 starts on the KFT, tallying nine top-10s in the process. He was fifth in the all-around ranking, eighth in putting average and sixth in birdie or better percentage.

Justin Lower 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $405,000 

Lower has appeared in just four total PGA Tour events since his debut in 2013, but the 32-year-old finally earned a card of his own after a clutch top-15 performance at the Korn Ferry Tour Championship to secure the very last spot among the Finals 25. Lower's 2020-21 KFT season included a pair of runner-up efforts and 13 top-25s, while he ranked 13th in GIR percentage and 21st in birdie average.

David Skinns 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $365,000 

Skinns strung together five consecutive top-20s throughout the latter portion of the Korn Ferry Tour's regular season from the TPC Colorado Championship through his win at the Pinnacle Bank Championship, locking up a PGA Tour card prior to the KFT Finals. The Englishman is slated to turn 40 years old during his upcoming rookie campaign on the PGA Tour, where he's made just five total appearances since his 2013 debut at the Tampa Bay Championship.

Jared Wolfe 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $350,000 

Although he matched his career high with 15 missed cuts on the Korn Ferry Tour during the super schedule, Wolfe's victories at the 2020 Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at Baha Mar and the Wichita Open carried him to a ranking of eighth on the regular season points list as he earned a PGA Tour card for the first time. The 33-year-old, who turned professional back in 2010, will finally make his PGA Tour debut this fall, though he recently missed the cut at all three stops during the KFT Finals.

Paul Barjon 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $347,000 

Barjon made the cut in three of six starts on the PGA Tour throughout his 2020-21 campaign, but he failed to record anything better than a T42 at the Barbasol Championship. However, he won the Korn Ferry Tour's Huntsville Championship in early May after tallying three runner-up finishes in 2020, including a playoff loss at the El Bosque Mexico Championship. Barjon added another top-5 during the KFT Finals at the recent Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship.

Andrew Novak 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $334,000 

Novak's 10 top-10s on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020-21 included a win at the 2020 LECOM Suncoast Classic where he played his final 54 holes in 20-under par. Additionally, the 26-year-old made the cut in 10 of his last 11 KFT starts dating to a T9 at the REX Hospital Open. However, Novak ranked 64th or worse on the Korn Ferry Tour in driving distance and GIR percentage.

Cameron Young 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $315,000 

Young became a back-to-back champion on the Korn Ferry Tour this year when he won the AdventHealth Championship and the Evans Scholars Invitational in late May, tallying a combined score of 37-under par throughout those eight consecutive sub-70 rounds. He missed the cut in two PGA Tour appearances, however, failing to advance to the weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open and U.S. Open. Nonetheless, Young was eighth on the KFT in driving distance and 25th in birdie average.

Joshua Creel 
2021-22 Projected Earnings:  $310,000 

Creel grinded out 29 made cuts in 40 starts throughout the Korn Ferry Tour's 2020-21 super season, but his win at the Utah Championship wasn't originally enough for a PGA Tour card. It took back-to-back top-10s at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and the KFT Championship to secure his upcoming rookie status. On the KFT, Creel finished the season ninth in driving accuracy and 10th in scrambling, though his lack of power off the tee might be a concern at the next level, especially given his ranking of just 127th in par-5 birdie or better percentage.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryce Danielson
Bryce covers the PGA for RotoWire and provides input on the golf cheat sheet. He also contributes to the coverage for NFL, NBA and other sports.
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