Four golfers to watch in 2023: Hoge, Kim and Theegala driving for Rory's world rankings crown

During this festive lull in the golfing calendar, Tipstrr golf expert Martin Colwell has picked out a few candidates with the potential to build on 2022's promise and climb the world rankings in 2023.

With the LIV-USPGA stand-off still simmering, Rory McIlroy made a bold statement in his personal crusade by ascending back to the top of the official world golf rankings following a stellar conclusion to 2022.

In a year that began with Jon Rahm in top spot, and then saw Scottie Scheffler wear the golfing crown for seven months, we can only guess who, if anyone, might usurp Rory at the top in 2023.

A good starting point would be to take a closer look at a few candidates who made an huge impression in 2022, and who might just have the potential to progress high up the elite echelons in 2023.

Tom Hoge (37th in WGR)

Hoge only recently won the QBE Shootout Tournament in Florida, alongside his playing partner Sahith Theegala, who we will come to later.

Hoge turned pro back in 2011, but the thirty-three-year-old had to wait eleven years for his real breakthrough year in 2022, during which he rose to an official world golf ranking of thirty-seven.

He came close to breaking his USPGA duck in January when he finished two shots behind Hudson Swafforth in the American Express Championship at Coachella Valley.

His breakthrough tour win finally came in June, when he held off the challenge of Jordan Spieth to clinch the prestigious AT & T Pebble Beach Pro Am on the California coast.

In recent months he has had four more top twenty finishes, the best of those being a tied fourth place at the Shriners Children Open in Las Vegas, all suggesting that Hoge looks well set to progress further up the world's elite golfing ranks in 2023.

Sahith Theegala (43rd in WGR)

2022 was Theegala's rookie year after graduating to the USPGA circuit via the U.S. collegiate system and the subsidiary Korn Ferry Tour.

American-born of South Asian heritage, Theegala burst onto the scene by almost winning the WM Phoenix Open in February as a rank outsider.

Indeed, he held a strong winning position heading down the back stretch, before he had something of a Sunday meltdown over the final three holes to finish tied for third.

That setback appeared to affect his game for a while, but he finished the year strongly, kicking off with a top ten finish in the Fortinet Championship in September, before finishing just three shots off the lead in fifth spot at the ZoZo Championship in Japan in October.

A month later Theegala again came within a couple of shots of the winner to finish joint runner-up in the RSM Classic, but he didn't have to wait long to go one better.

Partnering Tom Hoge in the QBE Shootout, he sank the crucial winning putt to prove his doubters wrong (including himself, perhaps) and show that he has the mental strength to fulfil his potential.

We can certainly expect him to build on his current world ranking of 43 during 2023, and that elusive first individual title surely can't be far away.

Joohyung 'Tom' Kim (15th in WGR)

Another young player to have made a huge impression over the last year or so has been Tom Kim, who burst onto the USPGA tour as a special temporary member last summer.

Top ten finishes in the Scottish Open (3rd) and the Rocket Mortgage Classic (7th) in July provided the confidence to see him to his first tour win at the Wyndham Championship in August, when he blazed five shots clear of the field.

An inspirational performance saw Kim light up the International team in September's Presidents Cup, before he got his 2022/23 campaign off to a flying start in Las Vegas by adding the Shriners Childrens Open to his honours board, again by a comfortable three-shot margin.

At just twenty years of age, the world is at the feet of this young South Korean, who has both the game and the temperament to thrive at the highest level.

Davis Thompson (178th in WGR)

Looking further under the radar, Davis Thompson is a twenty-three-year-old rookie currently down at 178 in the world rankings, and so his inclusion as a pick to go big in 2023 might seem slightly out of left-field.

At six feet four inches tall, this big hitter has travelled the same route as Sahith Theegala to this stage in his career via collegiate golf and the Korn Ferry tour.

Thompson has already enjoyed top fifteen finishes at the Fortinet Championship (9th=) and the Shriners Childrens Open (12th=) in recent months, both times being in serious contention at the start of the final day.

While yet to fulfil his full potential, Thompson clearly has the ability to progress in leaps and bounds, and might just be the darker of these four horse to shoot up the rankings over the coming year.

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