Golf Draft Kit: 2020-21 Sleepers & Busts

Golf Draft Kit: 2020-21 Sleepers & Busts

This article is part of our Golf Draft Kit series.

We surveyed our golf writers for sleepers and busts for the 2020-21 PGA Tour season. Here are the results.

SLEEPERS

Matthew NeSmith

NeSmith had a decent rookie season all without the benefit of being able to get off the tee as he ranked 152nd in strokes gained off the tee. A slight improvement in that number and he's top-70 this season. 

— Greg Vara

Doc Redman

The 2017 U.S. Amateur champion, Redman is entering his age-23 season on the PGA Tour. He's younger than Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. He turned pro late in 2018-2019, played only six events and finished top-20 in half, including a runner-up at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. In his first full season on Tour, he had seven top-25s, four of them after the restart, topped by a T3 at the Wyndham. He clearly was progressing, thanks largely to laser-like accuracy. He ranked 13th on Tour in driving accuracy and 12th in both strokes gained: approach and greens in regulation. He ranked 50th in birdie average and finished 71st in the point standings, just missing the second playoff event. He cracked the top 100 in the world rankings. All the foundations are there for Redman to take a big step forward in 2020-21.

— Len Hochberg

Corey Conners

Conners racked up an impressive 10 top-25 finishes in 22 starts in the 2019-20 campaign, but severe short-game issues limited the 28-year-old Canadian to just one top-10 as he earned less than $1.5M after essentially doubling that

We surveyed our golf writers for sleepers and busts for the 2020-21 PGA Tour season. Here are the results.

SLEEPERS

Matthew NeSmith

NeSmith had a decent rookie season all without the benefit of being able to get off the tee as he ranked 152nd in strokes gained off the tee. A slight improvement in that number and he's top-70 this season. 

— Greg Vara

Doc Redman

The 2017 U.S. Amateur champion, Redman is entering his age-23 season on the PGA Tour. He's younger than Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. He turned pro late in 2018-2019, played only six events and finished top-20 in half, including a runner-up at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. In his first full season on Tour, he had seven top-25s, four of them after the restart, topped by a T3 at the Wyndham. He clearly was progressing, thanks largely to laser-like accuracy. He ranked 13th on Tour in driving accuracy and 12th in both strokes gained: approach and greens in regulation. He ranked 50th in birdie average and finished 71st in the point standings, just missing the second playoff event. He cracked the top 100 in the world rankings. All the foundations are there for Redman to take a big step forward in 2020-21.

— Len Hochberg

Corey Conners

Conners racked up an impressive 10 top-25 finishes in 22 starts in the 2019-20 campaign, but severe short-game issues limited the 28-year-old Canadian to just one top-10 as he earned less than $1.5M after essentially doubling that number the season prior. He ranked 159th in SG: around-the-green, 189th in SG: putting and 195th in one-putt percentage. Alternatively, Conners' ball striking remained stout as he finished seventh in GIR percentage, eighth in total driving and 18th in SG: tee-to-green en route to a BMW Championship appearance. He even turned the ball striking up a notch upon the PGA Tour's return to action in June, ranking eighth in SG: T2G, 10th in SG: off-the-tee and 11th in SG: approach over his last 34 rounds. Conners gained strokes both off the tee and on his approach shots in all but one of his final 11 starts dating to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. If spells of positive regression around and on the greens are a possibility for Conners, there's no reason he can't contend for his second career victory on Tour soon.

— Bryce Danielson

Harold Varner III

The East Carolina product had somewhat of a disappointing season results-wise, making 14 of 22 cuts with just one top-10 finish en route to an 80th-place finish in the FedEx Cup standings. The stats tell a different story, though. Varner ranked 20th in SG: total overall and 34th in scoring average. That broke down to 18th in SG: Off-the-tee, 29th in SG: approach, 35th in SG: around, 148th in SG: putting, and ninth in SG: tee-to-green. Obviously you can see that the flat stick is what needs the most work going into this season, but how can you not be encouraged with his performance in every other category? If Varner just putts average next season, there's a really good chance he finally breaks through on the PGA Tour and bests his career high in earnings of $1,553,149 in 2018-19.

— Ryan Andrade

Sam Burns

In an era where so many young players are quickly winning on Tour, it's easy to overlook the ones who don't have immediate success. Burns left LSU after a stellar sophomore season in which he won four times and won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the top collegiate golfer. He then went on to earn his PGA Tour card after picking up a win and a total of four top-5 results in his lone season on the Korn Ferry Tour. Now entering his third season on the PGA Tour, Burns is only 24 and has qualified for the FedEx Cup Playoffs in both seasons. He excels with his driver, ranking inside the top-10 in driving distance last season while gaining nearly a half-shot per-round on the field in SG: off-the-tee. Burns also has great feel on the greens, so if he can show some improvement with his iron play and chipping, he should see some more consistent results this season that may even see him land his maiden win.

— Ryan Pohle

BUSTS

Marc Leishman

Leishman set the bar extremely high in 2017 when he earned more than $5 million and while he's maintained a pretty high level of play in the years since, I have a feeling his game is slowly starting to fade. He won't fall off the map, but his upside is limited.

— Greg Vara

Sergio Garcia

It's hard to believe, but this will be his age-41 season. He enters 2020-21 still ranked in the top-50 in the world rankings, an astounding run that goes all the way back to the last century, though that appears likely to end shortly. He played only 12 times on the PGA Tour last season, with just one top-25 — a tie for fifth at the RBC Heritage. He missed the playoffs. Not saying Garcia will fade into oblivion — he was still impressively ranked third in strokes gained: off the tee and sixth in tee to green. He's now married with two young children, which is part of this equation. He'll, of course, be at the Masters, but since winning at Augusta in 2017, he's missed eight of 12 major cuts without so much as a top-20.

— Len Hochberg

Brandt Snedeker 

Snedeker's substantial reliance on a quality short game has begun to fail him ahead of his 40th birthday in December, as the aging veteran lost strokes from tee to green in seven of his last eight starts to end the 2019-20 season outside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings. He hasn't posted a single top-20 result since the Farmers Insurance Open in late January and has lost an average of 1.8 strokes on approaches per event over his last 10 tournaments. A back injury forced Sneds to withdraw prior to the Memorial Tournament in mid-July, creating even more pessimism surrounding a potential return to form in the short run if the issue were to resurface. He's now averaged less than 289 yards in driving distance and finished 160th or worse in total driving two seasons in a row, while the young-gun, ball-striking revolution on the PGA Tour passes him by without any mercy lately.

— Bryce Danielson

Brendon Todd

The 35-year-old went from outside the top-200 in the OWGR after 2018, to notching back-to-back wins at the end of 2019 and making the TOUR Championship. He also racked up more than $3.5 million, something I don't see him coming close to this season. The concerns are that he makes his scores almost exclusively through his putter and his ability to scramble, ranking sixth in putts per round and second in scrambling. Todd was outside the top-120 in SG: off-the-tee, SG: approach, and SG: tee-to-green, however. The fact that he's such a short hitter puts him at a significant disadvantage anyway, but his iron play has not good enough to make up for it without mostly unsustainable numbers out of his putter. Todd's ball striking just provides too much uncertainty for a player that has been inconsistent throughout his career.

 — Ryan Andrade

Kevin Na

Na picked up an emotional win in October 2019 in his residence of Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where he remarkably gained more than 14 shots on the field for the week on the greens en route to the victory. Relying on short game prowess usually leads to regression, however (which we've seen with Jordan Spieth), and he ranked 192nd in SG: off-the-tee in 2019-20 — a career-low. Na has historically struggled in majors as well, with only two top-10 results in 36 appearances. Unless he can regain his stellar iron play form from a few years ago, Na will have an uphill battle to break $2 million in 2020-21.

— Ryan Pohle

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only Golf Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire Golf fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ryan  Andrade
Ryan has covered golf and college basketball for RotoWire since 2016. He has also written articles for ProGolfNow.com.
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.
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
Ryan Pohle
Ryan Pohle breaks down golf bets and covers college basketball for RotoWire.
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
Weekly Recap: The Postman Delivers
Weekly Recap: The Postman Delivers
Yahoo DFS Golf: John Deere Classic Picks and Strategy
Yahoo DFS Golf: John Deere Classic Picks and Strategy
Weekly Preview: John Deere Classic
Weekly Preview: John Deere Classic
Nightery Gaming: John Deere Classic
Nightery Gaming: John Deere Classic