These six PGA Tour golfers could use their fall swing as a springboard for success in the 2022-23 season

The PGA Tour’s fall swing is unlike any other part of its schedule. While there are plenty of top-tier events, most of the slate is a chance for either youngsters to make a name for themselves ahead of the schedule next spring or for breakout veterans to rediscover the groove that once made them great.

While we don’t know what the next few drops will look like — the tour will likely transition to a completely revamped fall in 2023 and beyond — the current fall slate will follow the last few and provide some opportunities for some players who might otherwise go unnoticed if all the stars were in full swing.

Outbreaks can manifest in a number of ways. Last year, Talor Gooch heralded his leap into the world’s top 40 when he got off to a hot start during the fall swing and eventually won the RSM Classic to close out the schedule. That went a little sideways in 2022 when he banned himself from the PGA Tour after joining LIV Golf, but it’s a good example of how the Tour’s fall tournaments can be a springboard for a terrific next year.

The 2019 RSM Classic provided a different kind of thaw for a fellow Oklahoma State player as Charles Howell III won his third career tournament and first in 11 years. He represented the type of veteran who could take advantage of more inexperienced areas and get a long season on track early with some big performances.

Here’s a look at who could fit into that category as the 2022 fall swing arrives.

Davis Riley (OWGR: No. 70): Maybe I’m crazy to think Riley could be on the 2023 US Ryder Cup team, but his fall could (could, won’t) go the way Sam Burns did last year when he beat Sanderson and catapulted him all the way to the US Presidents Cup team next September. Riley probably isn’t as talented as Burns, but Team USA isn’t necessarily as deep in the top 12-14, and Riley could certainly warm up and find his way to Rome for the Ryder Cup in 12 months from now on. He had nine top 13s last season (including the Memorial and the PGA Championship), and if he builds momentum the right way, he could be a force in 2023.

Sahith Theegala (No. 53): Speaking of golfers who could be on the 2023 Ryder Cup squad in Rome, Theegala is on the short list of players who could jump into one of the final 3-4 spots that could be vacated by this year’s Presidents squad Cup due to injuries, poor quality. rendering … or LIV. In November 2021, Data Golf ranked him as the 175th best player in the world. Now it’s up to 56th place. If he can make a similar leap in 2023 (which could start with a win this fall that has so eluded him all year), then he’s a legitimate Ryder Cup threat.

Rickie Fowler (No. 157): The five-time PGA Tour champion is now ranked behind Kaito Onishi, Ewen Ferguson and Phachara Khongwatmai in the Official World Golf Ranking and needs something — Anything –– it’s good to go his way this fall. He has fallen out with both his team and manager and will be looking to recapture the form that once made him a players’ champion as well as a perennial top-10 player in the world. Coincidentally, I thought Fowler found a springboard last slump when he narrowly lost the CJ Cup to Rory McIlroy. Instead, this was his only top 20 of the season. If you’re looking for hope here, Fowler actually improved statistically from 2021 to 2022 after declining in each of the previous three seasons.

Justin Sukh (No. 132): He’s probably the player from last year’s Korn Ferry Tour with the most upside. The pedigree is great, he had 10 top 10s on the Korn Ferry Tour last year and is usually a threat – although his first two PGA Tour events of the season didn’t go so well. Most casual golfers probably don’t have the heart for (or don’t remember) the name, but it’s not hard to see Suh catching heat over the last two months of play while jumping into the top 50 in the world and all the majors in 2022.

Tommy Fleetwood (No. 30): Fleetwood quietly finished the summer on a heater (T4 at the Open and Scottish Open) and while his game isn’t in disarray like Fowler’s, he hasn’t had the last few years he probably envisioned and hasn’t won a big-time since his Championship Abu Dhabi in 2018. It would be great to see Fleetwood pick up a win or two this fall heading into a Ryder Cup year and looking to build on what was his first season with two top 10s in the majors in 2022 (also added the PGA Championship).

Thomas Pieters (No. 33): As I wrote Fleetwood’s paragraph, I thought to myself, “I’m thinking pretty much all of these same things about Peters.” I don’t know that he has to win this fall—he won the Abu Dhabi Championship earlier in 2022–but he could be ahead in 2023 for someone with silly talent. It would be great to see a surprise Pieters break into the big four in 2023 and then reunite with former Ryder Cup bombshell partner Rory McIlroy in Rome.

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