30 Dec 2022 | Feature stories |
11 Aussie golfers to watch in 2023
by Australian Golf Media
By Tony Webeck
From the senior ranks to major championships all the way down to world junior titles, the Australian flag flew prominently on golf’s global leaderboards in 2022.
As we enter a new year, these are the 11 players we will be watching closely throughout 2023… and beyond. Cameron Smith
The sense of uncertainty within world golf at present will have an undeniable impact on Australia’s No.1-ranked golfer. He is committed to the 14-event LIV Golf schedule and – at this point – will be eligible to play in all four majors. Smith will turn 30 a month after he defends his Open Championship title at Royal Liverpool Golf Club and is at the peak of his powers. How that translates into a vastly different playing schedule will be one of 2023’s most fascinating storylines. Harrison Crowe
This year will undoubtedly be the year in which Harrison Crowe makes the move into the professional ranks… but he has some invitations to take up before denouncing his amateur status. The 2022 Asia-Pacific Amateur champion is exempt into both The Masters at Augusta National in April and The Open Championship at Hoylake in July at which point he will weigh up his options. And there is likely to be plenty to choose from. Grace Kim
Many players can toil away in secondary tours fighting for their shot at the big time. Grace Kim needed just one season on the Epson Tour to establish herself as a bona fide LPGA Tour player. It has been a hectic 18 months since Kim turned professional and she and coach Khan Pullen took the chance over the Aussie summer to reset, refresh and get the 22-year-old ready for her debut season among the world’s best. Given her trajectory to this point, it won’t take long for Kim to show the world what she’s made of. Minjee Lee
As she prepares for her ninth season on the LPGA Tour, it is easy to forget that Minjee Lee is still just 26 years of age. Each year that passed without a major win appeared to only add expectation and pressure, pressure that has now been relieved with major wins in successive years. It had been 20 years since Karrie Webb won majors in back-to-back years (2001-2002) and Lee is now well placed to join Webb and Peter Thomson as the only Aussies to win majors three years running. She is regarded by some as the best iron player in all of golf and with a mindset unencumbered by major near misses is primed to push for that world No.1 ranking. Hayden Hopewell
The transition to the pay-for-play ranks happens long before young golfers turn professional. Displaying an ability to mix it with the pros during your amateur days in often an indicator of how successful that transition will be. Since winning the 2020 WA Open at Royal Fremantle, Hayden Hopewell has shown his game can compete on the professional stage. He finished second to Braden Becker at the 2021 WA Open, was tied for second at TPS Murray River and in his second start as a professional was tied for 10th at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. He will likely receive sponsor invites into DP World Tour events during the year where he can prove again that he belongs. Jeffrey Guan
A dominant force in the junior ranks both here and abroad, the gifted prodigy turns 19 in July and now has to assert himself in open amateur events. He was third behind fellow New South Welshman Harrison Crowe at the Asia-Pacific Amateur in October and flirted with a maiden professional win when he finished fourth at the WA PGA Championship in Kalgoorlie. Coached by Gary Barter, predictions and expectations continue to build on how good Guan could be. This year will give us further data to fine-tune those assessments. Richard Green
Turning 50 on February 19, 2021 proved to be terrible timing for Richard Green. COVID-19 travel restrictions meant that he couldn’t attend Champions Tour Q School in late 2020 and there were just eight events on the 2021 Legends Tour schedule in Europe. The Victorian left-hander made up for lost time in 2022 with two victories in Europe, back-to-back wins on the SParms PGA Legends Tour in Australia and medalist honours at Champions Tour Qualifying School in December. The opportunity to ply his trade in the US has eluded Green up until this point but perhaps this time his timing is absolutely perfect. Amelia Harris
Young Amelia might feature on this list for many years to come. Regarded by some of the best judges in Australian golf has one of the most exceptional talents to have emerged in recent years, the 14-year-old played her way into the Women’s Australian Open via the Monday qualifier in December and went on to make the 36-hole cut. Originally from Cairns in North Queensland, Harris moved to Melbourne two years ago to further her golf and has already won the adidas Junior 6s World Final at Kingston Heath and the Yarra Yarra Golf Club club championship. Her development the next 12 months will be compelling. Cam Davis
Team events are rare in golf but sometimes they provide the catalyst to individual advancement. Adam Scott’s selection by captain Greg Norman for the 2009 Presidents Cup came at a pivotal time in his career; Cameron Smith’s breakthrough PGA TOUR win with Jonas Blixt at the 2017 Zurich Classic came seven months prior to his maiden individual win as a professional. When we come to look back on Cam Davis’s 2023 campaign we may well ponder just how critical his selection by Trevor Immelman for the 2022 Presidents Cup proved to be. A proven winner with all the tools at his disposal, Davis rose to the occasion at Quail Hollow, delivering two points for his team with wins in the foursomes and fourball formats. It’s now time to take that mentality into the majors. Stephanie Kyriacou
You will forgive Stephanie Kyriacou if the past three years have flashed by in something of a blur. An eight-stroke winner of the Australian Ladies Classic at Bonville as an amateur in February 2020, Kyriacou turned pro almost immediately but had her Ladies European Tour debut season thwarted by COVID-19. She made amends in 2021 with a victory and eight further top 10s to wrap up Rookie of the Year honours. She carried that momentum into LPGA Q-Series where she finished tied for 16th to earn her 2022 LPGA Tour card where she finished 75th on the Race to CME Globe standings. So, what’s next? The 22-year-old had two top-10s in majors in 2022 and looks the one most likely to join Minjee Lee and Hannah Green as regular Aussie contenders at golf’s showpiece events. The year 2023 just may give us an indicator of how good she can be. David Micheluzzi
David Micheluzzi was ranked the No.4 player on the World Amateur Golf Ranking when he turned professional in September 2019. Three years later he earned his first victory as a professional at the 2022 WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie. It was a win many felt was a long time coming but which now gives him the opportunity to play his way onto the DP World Tour in 2024. With nine events on the 2022/2023 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia schedule still to play, Micheluzzi sits second on the Order of Merit behind Australian PGA champion Cameron Smith. With Smith unlikely to play the minimum four events to be eligible to win the Order of Merit, if Micheluzzi can add to his six top-15 finishes from seven starts to date his immediate future will be all but secured.
Join our newsletter
Get weekly updates on news, golf tips and access to partner promotions.