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Golf Draft Kit: 2016-17 Top Rookies

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

This is seemingly one of the weaker rookie classes in a while to graduate from the Web.com Tour. There looks to be a lot of Thursday-Friday players in this bunch, but few, at least early in the season, weekend players. Wesley Bryan, Bobby Wyatt and Bryson DeChambeau are obviously in a different category, but everyone else may take a while to spring forward.

Wesley Bryan
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$1,100,000

This is a sleeper to win and win fast. Contending won't be a surprise. He got a battlefield promotion, after all, for winning three Web.com Tour events in the same season and even was on the leaderboard at the John Deere Classic for a while before finishing T8. But the trick-shot artist has legitimate talent to win, and winning potentially as early as this fall would not surprise at all. And besides, he has a ton of positive mojo from 2016. He's long, can putt and has a confidence that's unique for someone who came from nowhere to something in 2016. Consider this: he only played 15 events on the Web.com Tour this year and still finished the season ranked first in putting average, second in birdie average and third in scoring average.

Bobby Wyatt
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$850,000

Wyatt is known for two things: being on the national championship teams at Alabama and shooting 57 in a state tournament as an 18-year old in 2010. On the course last season he had an interesting road. Most notably, he finished fourth at the Zurich Classic while playing on a sponsorís exemption and with no status. That helped him get 137 Non-Member FedEx Cup points, which gave him entry into the Web.com Tour Finals where he went T61-T24-T12 to earn his PGA Tour card for 2016-17. Sensational playing in a big spot for a guy with more than enough talent to win on the PGA Tour once he becomes adjusted to things.

Grayson Murray
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$800,000

Murray ran the podium on the Web.com Tour, winning at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship, which turned out to be the final event of the Web.com Tour season due to Hurricane Matthew, losing in a playoff at the Digital Ally Open and finishing third at the Boise Open. With five other top-10s, he was one of the more consistent players on the Web.com Tour season ó especially late Ė which is useful considering the Safeway Open kicks off the 2016-17 PGA Tour season in mid-October. He can drive for show - 319.4 yards per drive Ė and putt for dough, too, ranking fifth, and is someone to watch this fall to see if he can carry over that momentum from late summer.

Ollie Schniederjans
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$800,000

Ah yes, Schniederjans, the player weíve known for years as the No. 1 amateur in the world, who nearly won the NCAA championship at Georgia Tech and finished T12 at an Open Championship, has made it to the big time. He got there by winning the Air Capital Classic on the Web.com Tour in a playoff, part of a season where he had a second and four other top-10 finishes. He also made seven PGA Tour starts, making the cut four times. In a weak rookie class, heís one of the studs, a fantasy player you can rely on early even as he gets his footing. Itís interesting Ė sometimes the stats page makes you wonder why a guy even earned a card in the first place. Schniederjans was 141st in driving accuracy, 98th in greens hit and 30th in putting. But dig deeper and youíll find that in his win he ranked T2 in GIR and in a week where he made 20 birdies to finish ninth in the field, and that clearly helped the cause. If he gets more consistent, watch out. Heís got a world of talent.

Seamus Power
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$800,000

Not sure what this says about Power or the crop of potential European Ryder Cup captainís picks, but Seamus, pronounced "Shamus," was on some lists of potential options for Darren Clarke. He was not picked, but that doesnít diminish his impressive 2016 campaign. He got his PGA Tour card through a win at the United Leasing & Finance Championship, and had a solid summer run that included three top-20 finishes, one at the Rio Olympics where he represented Ireland and tied for 15th. That week, in a limited but still strong field, he ranked 14th in SG tee-to-green, complementing a season-long Web.com Tour ranking of 13th for greens in regulation. Donít be surprised if Power sneaks up on some leaderboards early. The mere mention of him has a possible captainís pick shows you what those across the pond think of him.

Richy Werenski
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$750,000

Werenski had a successful 2016 on the Web.com Tour, demonstrated by his win at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in May and three second-place finishes. Most impressive is that those seconds came at three times of the year ó February, April, August. One thing that separates rookies who make the PGA Tour from those who stay on the PGA Tour is complete game consistency, and finishing high like that at different times of the year really helps. He ranked 16th in total driving but 73rd in putting, something heíll need to improve for the PGA Tour. He can contend once or twice, but stringing together multiple good appearances may be tough unless the putter improves.

Cheng Tsung Pan
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$750,000

If thereís a sleeper in this bunch itís Pan. Another Olympian (T30), he had a whopping seven top-10s on the Web.com Tour this year, which got him a card even without a win. The best finish was a playoff loss at the LECOM Health Challenge. He was 15th in greens hit and ninth in putting average. Do that on the next level and heíll be headed back to more Olympics and find himself in the PGA Tour winnerís circle too.

Trey Mullinax
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$700,000

This name will be familiar for anyone who follows college golf, as Mullinax played at Alabama and was a teammate of guys like Justin Thomas, who won NCAA titles in 2013 and 2014. Now his individual game is getting the spotlight after a 2016 Web.com Tour campaign in which he won the Rex Hospital Open and had six other top-25 finishes, enough to clinch a spot on the PGA Tour. This combination is pretty sweet too: 318.2 yards off the tee, 47th in greens hit, third in putting average.

J.T. Poston
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$650,000

No victories for Poston in 2016 but consistently high finishes ensured him a playing spot on the PGA Tour for 2016-17. Thatís especially impressive considering he didnít even join the Web.com Tour until June, and in fact played in the Canadian Tourís Qualifying School in March. He finished second twice, the first by shooting a final-round 64 at the Lincoln Land Charity Championship and the next by losing in a playoff at the Digital Ally Open. Couple that with a third in his second event of the year and a T6 in June and Poston quickly earned enough cash to make it to the next stage. The strength of his game is his irons and putter, where he ranked fifth in greens hit and 19th in putting average. Keep that consistency going on the next level and you could have a money machine.

J.J. Spaun
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$600,000

Spaun registered one victory Ė the News Sentinel Open in late August Ė two seconds and seven top-10s in 2016 on the Web.com Tour, easily sealing his spot on the PGA Tour for 2016-17. The win included middle rounds of 62-64, two of four rounds of 64 or better he shot in competition this year. He also played the Northern Trust Open on the PGA Tour, missing the cut. He was second in greens in regulation on the Web.com Tour at 76.65 percent and was 12th in the all-around ranking. One negative is that he finished 89th in putting average, something that will have to change on the PGA Tour for him to be a strong fantasy player.

Bryson DeChambeau
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$600,000

Hereís the thing about DeChambeau: the dudeís legit, but this is going to be a tough road for him. Yes, he nearly won the RBC Heritage in his first week on Tour but then he struggled, big time, missing four straight cuts. He admitted that he overprepared and worked too hard, perhaps expected considering the angles (figuratively and literally) at which he looks at golf. The man whose irons are the same length firmly believes he has the power to change golf -- and he very well might. Kudos to him for winning the DAP Championship in a playoff, the first Web.com Tour Finals event, to clinch his PGA Tour card. But getting acclimated to the traveling grind and learning all the golf courses on tour won't be easy - it's not even for the best -- and it wouldn't surprise if it takes the better part of a season for DeChambeau to work his way into a groove. That might not be a bust in a golf fan's eyes but in the eyes of a fantasy player it might not be good enough.

Andrew Johnston
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$500,000

BEEEEEEFFFF. Need I say more? Few took golf more socially by storm in the second half of 2016 than Andrew "Beef" Johnston. The Brit who said out loud, publicly, right after his Spanish Open win that he'd celebrate Open by getting really drunk (which is an automatic way to gain a ton of fans on social media, by the way) backed up his party antics by: a) getting really drunk, b) contending at the Open Championship and being in the second-to-last group on Sunday before finishing eighth, c) getting a sponsorship with fast-food chain Arby's and staring in some utterly hilarious commercials, d) coming to the U.S. to play the Web.com Tour Finals for a PGA Tour card even when he had a place to play and e) backing up those intentions with great play - fourth at the Boise Open - to clinch his tour card. It's uncertain how much he'll play over here or how well he'll play being a world traveler playing both tours - we've seen that backfire before - but he has the game to contend in a big spot and a personality that's infectious.

Mackenzie Hughes
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$500,000

Hughes got into the winnerís circle this year at the Price Cutter Charity Championship in August, shooting a Saturday 64 to help propel him up the leaderboard. He added two other top-10s, leading the Canadian to the PGA Tour for 2016-17. He missed nine cuts in 23 starts, which is concerning, not helped by his 111st-place ranking in driving accuracy and 67th place in greens in regulation. But he has a strong putter, ranking 17th, and that will help take his game to new heights if he can hit more fairways and greens.

Xander Schauffele
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$400,000

Schauffele, 26th on the regular-season Web.com Tour money list to miss a tour card that way by one spot, gathered himself and went T50-T18-T9 in the playoffs, clinching a spot on the PGA Tour and giving himself a nice sigh of relief. Heís playing well and could hop up on a leaderboard this fall, as he was T12 in GIR and T15 in putts per GIR in Columbus a couple weeks ago.

Ryan Brehm
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$400,000

Brehm won the Portland Open in late August on the Web.com Tour, sealing his spot on the PGA Tour for 2016-17 after a Web.com Tour campaign that saw him have two thirds and five top-10s in 24 starts. He missed seven cuts in 24 starts and had nine other finishes outside of the top 25. Thatís probably attributed to his 134th-place ranking in driving accuracy and 58th place in greens in regulation. That has to improve for him to be a better player than the $400K heís pegged for.

Ryan Blaum
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$400,000

Blaum got his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour Finals and used a T5 in Boise and a T18 in Columbus to do it. In Boise he finished with 64 and ranked T2 in birdies and 10th in putts per GIR. If he continues that combination on the PGA Tour, he might contend. Blaum was 33rd on the regular season money list, just missing his card that way. He also competed last fall at the OHL Classic on the PGA Tour and tied for 29th. A player hot now, the fall could be a good spot for him.

Brandon Hagy
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$400,000

Five top-10s and seven top-25s gave Hagy a PGA Tour card, the best finish being a T3 at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae in July. A long hitter, he ranked second in driving average at 321.7 yards per drive, first in eagles and 11th in scoring average. If he can control his distance ó something Tony Finau and Justin Thomas have had to figure out, for example Ė heís certainly got the length to contend on the PGA Tour. Another key for him, which could lead to early struggles, is working out a gameplan for each course and where his length fits in.

Dominic Bozzelli
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$300,000

Four top-10s propelled Bozzelli to the big time, including a victory in June at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. Middle rounds of 63-64 and a winning score of 24-under clinched his spot on the PGA Tour for 2016-17 and a playoff loss just weeks later at the LECOM Health Challenge where he closed with 66 on Sunday proved he has closing power. He missed eight cuts in 18 starts, which isnít a great percentage and something heíll have to improve at the next level, but his average driving distance of 304.2 yards will be helpful as long as he can hit more greens. His 127th GIR rank wonít cut it on the tour.

Julian Etulain
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$300,000

Two second-place finishes, the first at the Louisiana Open and the second coming in a playoff loss at the DAP Championship, propelled Etulain to the PGA Tour. The Argentinian was 12th in greens hit, which he will need to continue on the tour. Look for early season struggles as he gets acclimated to the golf courses on the PGA Tour.

Nicholas Lindheim
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$200,000

Lindheim has played only once on the PGA Tour (he made the cut in 2014). He'll get a lot more opportunities after a perplexing Web.com season. He had a win and a runner-up, but he also missed 10 of 20 cuts. That wonít cut it with the big boys.

Brian Campbell
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$200,000

Campbell had two second-place finishes in a three-tournament span, the BMW Charity Pro-Am and Nashville Golf Open, and added three other top-10 finishes to clinch a spot on the PGA Tour. He had an interesting stats dichotomy Ė 75th in greens hit yet eighth in putting average ó and, not surprisingly, was fairly high (36th) in scrambling. He must hit more greens.

Sebastian Munoz
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$100,000

Munoz won a tournament to get inside the top 25 on the Web.com regular-season money list, but he also missed 16 of 23 cuts. That was his first foray onto the secondary tour, and he's never played a PGA Tour event. But he will now, and he'll likely experience significant growing pains.

Rick Lamb
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$100,000

Lamb played only 13 times on the Web.com Tour last season, but he won once, good enough to sneak into the 24th spot on the regular-season money list. He's never played a PGA Tour event, and he'll almost assuredly be heading back to the Web.com Tour after his rookie PGA season.

Joel Dahmen
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$100,000

Dahmen used two T3s during the regular season to snag the 25th spot on the Web.com money list. He's played in only one PGA Tour event, in 2014, and he made the cut. But he shouldn't expect that to be a weekly occurrence this season.

Brett Drewitt
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$100,000

A mediocre regular season Ė he was 55th on the Web.com Tour regular season money list Ė got turned into a great season after clinching his PGA Tour card via the Web.com Tour Finals. Drewitt went T28-MC-T5 in the playoffs, ranking first in greens hit and T3 in driving accuracy at Nationwide. A nice combination to close his season and a potential good omen for the 2016-17 PGA Tour fall campaign.

Cody Gribble
2016-17 Projected Earnings:
$50,000

Gribble tied for second early in the Web.com Tour season at the United Leasing & Finance Championship but struggled throughout, missing a whopping 15 cuts in 24 starts. But he tied for fifth at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and with the playoffs shortened to three events it was good enough for a PGA Tour card, even after missing the cut in the first two playoff events. Thatís a huge red flag for fantasy players: a talented golfer who didnít play well and basically got a card on one good finish. Look for any sign of strong, consistent finishes before starting or playing him regularly.

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