With the PGA Tour set to begin a new wraparound season this week in West Virginia, a fresh crop of first-timers are ready to put their newly printed Tour cards to use.
There are 21 players in the 2020 rookie class, ranging from former NCAA stars Maverick McNealy and Scottie Scheffler to grizzled veterans like Scott Harrington and Vince Covello, who are finally getting their shot at the limelight. The crop also features former U.S. Amateur runner-up Doug Ghim, as well as former U.S. Amateur champ Viktor Hovland.
Hovland nearly joined his former college peers Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa by fast-tracking to full status last season, coming up a few non-member points shy of a card at the season-ending Wyndham Championship. But he played well in the first two Korn Ferry Tour Finals events, enabling him to clinch his card without even showing up for the third and last Finals event.
Now Hovland will make his first start as a PGA Tour member at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, played on a course where just five months ago he helped Oklahoma State win a Big XII conference title.
"It's nice, gives you a lot of freedom," Hovland said. "You know somewhat where you're going to play and what events you'll get into, so that's a whole lot better than grinding out the Monday qualifiers and doing it that way."
All 21 rookies are currently in the Greenbrier field.
While Hovland has ample name recognition after a strong summer, he'll likely face a stern challenge for Rookie of the Year honors from former Texas standout Scheffler, who topped the Korn Ferry Tour points list after winning twice on the developmental circuit, including a Finals event. That means that Scheffler is the only one of 50 KFT Finals graduates who is fully exempt this season and won't face periodic reshuffles for priority. His rank also earned him a spot at The Players in March.
Last season, four rookies won Tour events: Wolff, Morikawa, Adam Long and Cameron Champ. Recently named Rookie of the Year Sungjae Im finished T-15 in the final FedExCup standings and was the only rookie to advance to the 30-man Tour Championship.