10 names that should shine on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2023

The Korn Ferry’s revamped tour schedule kicks off Sunday in Great Exuma, Bahamas, with the first of 26 tournaments.

Gone are the standard prize money — $28 million to be exact — as well as 30 PGA Tour cards, as the feed-in tour of the 25-25 model that saw cards dealt out after the regular season and three-event Finals is gone. This post-season format, which not only gave KFT players 26-75 in points but PGA Tour pros who finish 126-200 a last chance to earn or keep their PGA Tour cards, is now an extension of closing four events offering elevated points and purses alongside Combined with diminishing field sizes that culminated with the 70-player Korn Ferry Tour tournament.

Q-School also got a facelift, with the top five finishers and finalists receiving PGA Tour status, the first time more than one KFT has been awarded since 2012.

With all that said, which players are most likely to graduate from the NFL in 2023? We’ve come up with a list of 10 names to watch:

Persona Cody

2022 KFT End: 32
Omar: 23
College: Texas (2022)
buzz: Just three starts of his KFT career last summer, Coody won the Live and Work at the Maine Open, a week after being tied for fourth in Wichita. He appeared en route to a PGA Tour card, but things did not go according to plan for the rest of the season. Cody hit one other top 10, missed four out of seven cuts after his win, and then had to withdraw from the KFT tournament due to a fractured fibula in his left hand. He had surgery in late September, but is ready to start his season opener in the Bahamas. As long as he stays healthy — Cody also broke his right arm in December 2021 and missed nearly four months of his freshman year at Texas — Cody is as close to locking the top 30 as it gets.

Chris Gottrop

2022 KFT End: DNP (T-3 in Q-School)
Omar: 23
College: Oklahoma (2022)
buzz: With a couple of last summer’s top 10 finishers on the PGA Tour and then a T-18 opener to start the KFT Finals, he’s almost completely over a full season in the KFT. But consecutive missed cuts to qualify for the finals sent him to Q-School, where he easily earned a guaranteed 12 starts to start this new KFT season. The New Jersey native has a good chance of leading KFT in driving distance and hitting a ball that’s already ready for the PGA Tour, but one more thing to consider is the thrill of a massive year for the 2022 Haskins winner: He’s made three PGA Tour starts this fall, missed no cuts and is ranked 40th in strokes gained around the green and putting, two areas in which he typically struggled in his young career.

Akshay Bhatia

2022 KFT End: 30
Omar: 20
College: Nothing (2019)
buzz: Bhatia looked on his way to earning a PGA Tour card after winning the season-opening event in Great Exuma. However, he missed 13 of his final 23 cuts, not scoring another top 10, and only breaking a double-top 20. With another year of seasoning under his size 28 belt, Bhatia has the potential to be one of the best players in all of KFT this season.

Norman Xiong

2022 KFT End: 48
Omar: 24
College: Oregon (2018)
buzz: there he is! It’s taken a tough few years, but things are finally looking up for the former world champion and 2018 Haskins & Nicklaus Trophy winner. Xiong, without any laying, qualified Monday for the Wichita Open last summer and won by scoring 26-under. He did nothing else in his final seven starts of the season, but with his full-time return to KFT on tap, few would be surprised at Xiong’s bit of form that drew comparisons to Tiger Woods while an amateur.

Frankie Caban

2022 KFT End: DNP (T-8 in Q-School)
Omar: 23
College: Florida Gulf Coast (2022)
buzz: In order to succeed in KFT, you have to drop, and Caban showed this ability by shooting 51-under-11 innings while losing to only two players during the first three stages of Q-School. He then tied for eighth in the final stage to secure his 12th guaranteed start. A highly ranked recruit who once shut out 59 to win the state tournament in high school, Capan didn’t have the college career he had hoped for as he split time at Alabama and FGCU, but his game has certainly passed the eye test in the past few months.

cummins quads

Omar: 26
College: Oklahoma (2021)
2022 KFT End: 70
buzz: This is the skinny—or should we say burly—of the Six Years Sooner: It won’t blow you off the green, but when it comes to short game and rolling putts, few are harder to win. Although he only had three top-25s in KFT’s rookie season, he shot 66 or better at least once in eight of his 21 starts. An improvement in his hitting will lead to better consistency and he will likely be in the top 30.

Spencer Ralston

2022 KFT End: 80 (T-29 at Kew School)
Omar: 25
College: Georgia (2021)
buzz: This past early May, Ralston was running out of energy, after playing a bunch of mini-tours and Monday qualifiers. To make matters worse, he had started at KFT once at that point (T-53 in Savannah) and the priority list had been rearranged. So, after missing the cut of a GProTour event in Alabama, Ralston decided to head home to Sea Island, Georgia. But before he could leave, his host convinced him to stay a few days and try to qualify for the KFT event in Huntsville. The previous Saturday, Ralston had received word that he was in the field, went on to tie for ninth and ended up playing 12 more tournaments with two more top 10 finishes. “I remember that point last year was kind of like, ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity, you have the opportunity to make the most of it,’” Ralston said. He narrowly missed making it to the KFT Finals, but his performance helped send him straight to the final stage, where he made eight guaranteed starts.

Joe Highsmith

2022 KFT End: T-197 (T-24 at Kew School)
Omar: 22
College: Pepperdine (2022)
buzz: Will the bulldozer boy become the bulldozer man in 2023? After finishing ninth on the PGA Tour of Canada last summer, Highsmith will have eight guaranteed starts to work from to start this season on KFT. He’s only made one career start at KFT, a T-30 last year at Utah, but he’s a guy who gives himself a lot of birdie opportunities (and converts a lot of them), which is crucial on this run.

Chan Kim

2022 KFT End: DNP (2nd in Q-School)
Omar: 32
College: Arizona State (2010)
buzz: With eight wins on the Japan Tour and 12 major tournaments to his name, he is arguably the most decorated member of KFT this year. If his runner-up appearance as a finalist is any indication, Kim is gearing up for a big year as he finally starts working full time in the US after more than a decade of playing internationally.

Kevin Dougherty

2022 KFT End: 42
Omar: 31
College: Oklahoma State (2014)
buzz: For four straight seasons now, Daugherty has done enough to keep his card on KFT, but he has yet to earn promotion to the PGA Tour. That includes last season, when he led the Tour in both driving distance and total driving distance while ranking ninth in the Greens in regulation percentage. With this type of hitting the ball, the fifth over should be the charm.

Other interesting names: Joey Garber, Ali Tosti, Noah Goodwin, Mac Misner, Stephen Fisk, John Augenstein, TJ Fogle, Rico Hoy, Ryan Gerrard, Wilson Furr

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