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Rookies to watch

2:20 PM, Jan 10, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Sony Open in Hawaii -- the PGA Tour's first full-field event of 2013 -- got underway Thursday.

Notables such as Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson will garner much of the attention at Waialae Country Club, but be sure to keep your eye on another group of capable players.

Twenty-three rookies will make their season debut at the Sony Open; some from the Web.com Tour's top 25 money list and some via the gauntlet that was Q- School, but all ready to make their mark.

Could there be another Tiger or Rory in the group? Only time will tell.

Here are some rookies to watch in 2013:

LUKE GUTHRIE - Age: 22 - Guthrie earned his PGA Tour card courtesy of a No. 2 finish on the 2012 Web.com Tour money list (Casey Wittenberg, No. 1 on the Web.com money list, is not a rookie). In addition to his stellar Web.com season, which featured a pair of wins and seven top-10 finishes in just 10 starts, Guthrie also impressed in four PGA appearances. He ended in the top 25 in three of those events, with his only missed cut coming at the Frys.com Open.

Of note: Guthrie finished the 2012 season No. 1 in putting average and putts per round.

RUSSELL HENLEY - 23 - Henley enters his inaugural PGA Tour season on a high note. He closed his 2012 Web.com Tour campaign with four straight top-10 finishes, including a pair of playoff victories. In all, he racked up seven top 10s and earned his PGA card via a No. 3 finish on the Web.com money list.

Henley should make an impression with his driver. He ranked No. 8 on the Web.com Tour last season in total driving -- a combination of driving distance and accuracy.

Of note: Henley has made the cut in both of his appearances in the U.S. Open ... He won on the Web.con Tour as an amateur in 2011.

MORGAN HOFFMANN - 23 - Although he began the year without status, Hoffman eventually earned special temporary membership on the Web.com Tour with a series of strong showings. By season's end, he played himself into the top 60 on the money list and clinched a spot in the Web.com Tour Championship as a result. A third-place tie at that event vaulted Hoffmann to 19th on the money list -- good enough for an hard-earned PGA Tour card.

A product of golf powerhouse Oklahoma State, Hoffmann finished 2012 with seven top-10 Web.com finishes.

Of note: Hoffmann tied for 29th at last year's U.S. Open.

SI WOO KIM - 17 - Kim is the only golfer on this list who won't make his debut at the Sony Open. The reason: the South Korean, who earned a card with a 20th-place tie at Q-School, is too young.

Kim, the youngest Q-School grad ever, won't be able to take up membership on the PGA Tour until June 28, when he turns 18.

It is unlikely Kim will make any waves this year due to his limited status, but given the long odds, he is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Of note: Ty Tryon was the previous youngest player to earn his PGA Tour card through Q-School (17 years, six months and one day).

BEN KOHLES - 22 - Kohles is the first player in Web.com Tour history to win his first two professional starts. He accomplished the feat with a playoff victory at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational in late July and a triumph at the Cox Classic a week later.

Kohles was one of five two-time winners on the 2012 season. He posted three top-10 finishes in 10 starts and ended the year at No. 8 on the Web.com money list.

Of note: Kohles lists his favorite place to vacation as Hawaii ... let's see if he feels relaxed in his debut this week.

DONG-HWAN LEE - 25 - Lee shot 25-under 407 over six days at PGA West to win Q- School in dramatic fashion. He birdied his last three holes to down Ross Fisher by a single stroke.

Lee has eight international victories to his name, including two on the Japan Golf Tour, where he is a regular.

Of note: The last international golfer to win at Q-School was England's Brian Davis in 2004.

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