The 2021-22 seasons for both the PGA and LPGA Tours are underway, and there is plenty to be excited about, particularly when it comes to golfers to watch in 2022.
With that in mind, here are 10 golfers each from the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour to follow this season.
The 2021 calendar year was very good to the promising Burns. He won the Valspar Championship in May, then struck early on the 2021-22 season with a victory at the Sanderson Farms in October. Burns posted four top-10 finishes through his first nine tournament starts this season. Sure, it's been a relatively small sample size for Burns, who turned pro in 2017, but one has to like what they see for far from the 25-year old LSU product.
As of March 7, Hataoka was ranked ninth in the Rolex Rankings of the world's top women's golfers. In 2021, Japan's Hataoka won twice -- at the Marathon Classic and NW Arkansas Championship. She finished third on the LPGA Tour Money List last season, earning a little more than $1.9 million. All that sets up for a potentially bigger payday in 2022 for Hataoka, who also finished second at the 2021 U.S Open.
Cantlay is coming off a career season in 2021. He won at the Memorial, then ran away with the FedEx Cup by winning the BMW and Tour Championship in back-to-back weeks. Oh yeah, he also starred during the United States Ryder Cup triumph. Now, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year looks to build on that special and perhaps take his name off the list of the best players never to win a major. Something tells us this might be the year Cantlay gets that done.
The former world No. 1, Ko returned to prominence in 2021 by winning her first PGA Tour event -- at the Lotte Championship -- since 2018. Ko also won November's Aramco Saudi Ladies International, placed inside the top six at the 2021 ANA Inspiration and The Evian Championship, and won bronze for New Zealand in the women's tournament at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. A 16-time LPGA Tour winner and two-time major champ, Ko, now ranked third in the world, continued her resurgence with a victory at January's Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.
As of March 7, Gooch sat fourth on the PGA Tour's money list with more than $3 million in earnings. Gooch, who's also fourth in the FedEx Cup standings, won the RSM Classic in November for his first PGA Tour victory. A pro since 2014, it appears Gooch is finally making some noise after faring well on the Web.com Tour and PGA Tour Canada. We don't really know if the 30-year-old Gooch can keep things going deep into 2022, but he's obviously off to a good start.
Is it even possible to think Ko is capable of topping her stellar performance from last season? We're about to find out. In 2021, Ko won five times on the LPGA Tour, topped the money list with more than $3.5 million in earnings, and earned the tour's player of the year honor for a second time. It's one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of the Tour. So, maybe it wasn't that surprising that the world's No. 1 golfer already has a victory in 2022 -- at the HSBC Women's Champions.
Ranked among the top-10 golfers in the world, Hovland, once again, is being saddled with lofty expectations. After winning on both the European Tour and PGA Tour in '21, and earning a Ryder Cup nod for Europe, Hovland continues to see his stock rise. He opened 2022 by claiming the title in January's Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic. While there's no doubting his talent, Hovland's best finish in eight major tournaments is a tie for 12th (2019 U.S. Open, 2021 Open Championship). The dominance expected from the 24-year-old is likely to come, but will it be sooner rather than later?
The rivalry between Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda, ranked second in the world, will also be something to keep an eye on in 2022. It was quite the 2021 season for Korda. She won four times on the LPGA Tour during the 2021 calendar year, including the Women's PGA Championship in June. In September, Korda was part of the U.S. Solheim Cup team and brought home gold as medalist of the women's Olympic golf tournament in Tokyo. With all that, Korda began the 2022 season as the No. 1 ranked women's golfer in the world before Jin Young Ko surpassed her. It might be a stretch to believe Korda will be as successful on Tour this season, but there may not be a more confident player on the LPGA Tour at the moment.
Golf fans might not have a choice but to check out Morikawa. He's likely to be a regular tournament contender after winning twice on the PGA Tour in 2021, highlighted by his second major title -- this time at The Open Championship. Morikawa finished inside the top 10 in three of the four majors last season. In November, Morikawa won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, a month after he helped the U.S. win the Ryder Cup. Morikawa ended 2021 and began '22 as the No. 2-ranked golfer in the world.
Maguire was a promising talent entering the 2021 season. She truly made a name for herself by year's end. Specifically at the Solheim Cup, where Ireland's Maguire posted a rookie-record 4.5 points (4-0-1 record) to help Team Europe top the Americans. She also tied for sixth at The Evian Championship. Maguire continued that success by posting her first LPGA Tour victory at the LPGA Drive On Championship in February.
The world's No. 1 golfer. Following a stellar 2021, where he finally got the major monkey off his back by winning the U.S. Open, Rahm seems focused on being even better in 2022. He finished among the top eight at each of the four major tournaments last season and became a father. The reigning PGA Player of the Year set a personal best by topping the Tour Money List with more than $7.7 million in earnings. More relaxed and content with his golf career, Rahm appears ready for any challenge that lies ahead.
Maybe we're a year or so ahead of ourselves. In fact, we don't know how much Roussin-Bouchard, the French-born golfer who starred at South Carolina and was formerly the world's No. 1-ranked amateur, will play on the LPGA Tour in 2022. She just earned her Tour card in 2021, but if her amateur success and the fact she won on the European Tour shortly after turning pro last year, Roussin-Bouchard is a name to remember.
Perhaps Scheffler's play in 2021 laid the foundation for a truly special performance in 2022, where he's already recorded his first two PGA Tour victories -- the Phoenix Open and Arnold Palmer Invitational -- and sits atop both the money list and FedEx Cup standings. In 2021, Scheffler tied for eighth at the 2021 PGA Championship, then finished T7 at the U.S. Open and closed out the major season with a tie for eighth at The Open Championship.
Last season, at age 19, Saso joined Inbee Park as the youngest golfer to win the U.S. Open. That was more than enough to make Saso one of the biggest stories in women's golf from 2021. In 2022, golf fans could see more of Saso, born in the Philippines and ranked eighth in the world, playing in America, as well on the LPGA of Japan -- where she's certainly made a name for herself. There is much to like about her game, and it's only going to get better.
Jordan Spieth is back. Really? Maybe the jury is still out. Yes, Spieth's victory at the Texas Open last April was his first since July 2017. It was great to see. The fact he tied for third at the Masters and finished second at The Open Championship are further signs that Spieth has figured out his issues and should be a consistent contender in 2022. But, a victory at a major tournament this season just might make Spieth's comeback from oblivion complete.
Since turning pro in 2020, Thailand-born Tavatanakit has posted one LPGA Tour victory. But, it came at the 2021 ANA Inspiration -- one of the Tour's five major championships. Tavatanakit, who played collegiately at UCLA, also finished inside the top 10 at two other 2021 majors -- the Women's PGA Championship (T5) and Women's British Open (T7). All that helped Tavatanakit earn the LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award and the Rolex Annika Major Award, and set the stage for a more promising 2022.
The million-dollar question is when -- or if -- Woods, who was officially inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame, will play a competitive event by himself in 2022? We're nearing the year anniversary of Tiger's terrible car accident that seriously injured his leg and essentially ended his full-time competitive goal career, but he teamed with son Charlie at the recent PNC Championship. Woods, who has hinted at a return at some point but shied away from any type of specifics, will play when he's ready. Whether that's in 2022 or beyond, well, obviously, that remains to be seen.
In 2017, at age 14, Thitikul became the youngest golfer to win a professional event at the Ladies European Thailand Championship. Now 18, she's won three more tournaments on the Ladies European Tour since that initial triumph. So what's next? After earning her card, Thitikul seems primed to take on the LPGA Tour in 2022. She finished fifth at The Evian Championship last season, so she could be in for big things on Tour in 2022.
Zalatoris first grabbed the attention of most golf fans when he challenged for the 2021 Masters title, and ultimately finished second at Augusta. He then tied for eighth at the PGA Championship. Those two performances helped secure the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award for Zalatoris, the 25-year-old Wake Forest product. We'll see if he can build on that stellar introduction to high-level professional golf in 2022.
We're going on three years (June 2019 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic) since Thompson won an LPGA Tour event. When it comes to U.S. women's golf, Thompson is one of the sport's most notable athletes. However, there are still some fans or analysts thinking that, even though she's just 27 and won 11 Tour events, the fact she's claimed only one major (2014 ANA Inspiration) is grounds for underachievement to this point. We're not ready to go there just yet.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.
Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!