New Players to Watch


There are some new golfers on the PGA Tour, and you’ll likely see at least some of them at THE PLAYERS. Some of them are already PGA Tour winners or DP World Tour winners. Others look like they will be at some point in time. Several of them are from Europe but went to school in the U.S., like Ludvig Aberg.

Aberg, pronounced Oh-berg — who knows why; it’s Swedish — went to Texas Tech and was a standout there. Aberg became the first player to join the PGA Tour right out of college by finishing No. 1 in the PGA Tour University Ranking.

From college, Aberg played on the DP World Tour in Europe and won the Omega European Masters in September, just before the Ryder Cup.

Then he came back to the U.S. where he won the RSM Classic, Davis Love III’s tournament, which was the last PGA Tour event in 2023.

“My main priority is America and the PGA TOUR,” he said at the RSM Classic before he won. “It’s been that way since I turned pro, and I feel like that’s what I want to do. I want to come over here, I wanted to improve my status and try to play tournaments and try to get into the big events for next year, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

As it turned out, Aberg’s victory at the RSM got him a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and entry to this year’s Masters and PLAYERS.

At the RSM, he tied the low score in PGA Tour history in a 72-hole event. He won by a record seven shots and had the low closing 36-hole score in PGA Tour history, posting back-to-back 61s.

And when he gets mad on the golf course, he swears in Swedish. (I asked at the RSM! Hey, we all get mad on the golf course.)

Nicolai Hojgaard

Nicolai Hojgaard is half of a set of twins. His brother Rasmus is also a professional golfer and they have the distinction of winning back-to-back weeks on the DP World Tour. Rasmus won the Omega European Masters one week, and Nicolai won the Italian Open the following week.

Most recently, Nicolai won the DP World Tour Championship, defeating Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.

Hojgaard made his first entry to the PGA Tour in 2023 at the Corales Puntacana Championship and finished solo-second. That top-10 allowed him to play in the Valero Texas Open, where he received Special Temporary Membership due to a tie for 28th.

Now he’s waiting for his twin to find a way to the U.S.

Hojgaard’s name is pronounced Hoy-gard. He’s from Denmark. Between Aberg and Hojgaard, we’re all going to have to go to a couple of Berlitz language clinics to be able to cheer these guys on!

Eric Cole

Eric Cole had a completely opposite path to the PGA Tour than the first two. He has had a career as a mini-tour player for years and has 54 mini-tour victories, the last one coming in December of 2021. Cole qualified once before for the PGA Tour but lost his card.

Last season, at age 35, he nearly won the final Honda Classic. In the fall of 2023, he was 4th at Fortinet, 3rd at Shriners, 2nd at ZOZO and 3rd at the RSM Classic. He finished 43rd in FedEx points, and that vaulted him into the top 50 in points, meaning he is into all the Signature events in 2024.

Cole has golf in his blood, literally. His mother is Laura Baugh and his father is Bobby Cole. It’s likely that more people remember his mother than his father.

Baugh was rookie of the year on the LPGA in 1973, and was the youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at the time in 1971. She was 16. Baugh had many promotional contracts when she turned professional, including with Ford, Rolex, Suzuki, The Ladies Home Journal, Wilson, Bermuda’s Tourist Bureau and Colgate Palmolive. Bobby Cole, who is from South Africa, was the second youngest winner of the British Amateur. Cole won tournaments in South Africa and also the 1977 Buick Open. He played on the PGA Tour Champions circuit from 1998 to 2001.

Baugh and Cole had seven children. Today, she heads up the The Laura Baugh Golf Schools at Palencia Country Club in St. Augustine.

Ben Kohles

While not a PGA Tour rookie, Ben Kohles re-earned his PGA Tour card for the third time via the Korn Ferry Tour. Kohles lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, and he plays and practices at TPC Sawgrass.

Last season, Kohles finished No. 1 on the Korn Ferry Tour points list with two victories: Astara Chile Classic and the HomeTown Lenders Championship. Kohles played four seasons at University of Virginia, where he set a school record for victories with seven. He was Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year two times, one time as a co-winner with Brooks Koepka.

He is the only Korn Ferry player to win his first two starts, which were the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and the Cox Classic.

Parker and Pierceson Coody

The Coody brothers are interesting rookies to the PGA Tour for two reasons in addition to their golf games. They are the third set of twins to play golf on the PGA Tour. And they have a famous grandfather.

The first twins were Curtis and Allan Strange. Curtis went on to win back-to-back U.S. Open titles among the 17 PGA Tour titles he held. Then he was a television commentator for several different networks and still appears on ESPN. Allan played on the PGA Tour for several years, but he left professional golf to focus on a career in investments.

Then, Daryl and Derek Fathauer both played in the Ginn sur Mer Classic. Derek went on to play in 154 PGA Tour events in his career. Daryl did not. However, they did not both have PGA Tour membership at the same time.

Now it’s the Coody twins, grandsons of Charlie Coody who won the Masters in 1971 after surviving a three-way battle for the title with Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller. It doesn’t get tougher than that! As a result, Coody played in the 1971 Ryder Cup. Coody also won the Dallas Open in 1964, the Cleveland Open Invitational in 1969 and the World Series of Golf in 1971. He had two European Tour victories and then won five times on the PGA Tour Champions.

Now, we have Parker and Pierceson Coody, fresh out of the University of Texas and through to the PGA Tour. Whether they will have made enough money or have enough FedEx points to enter THE PLAYERS remains to be seen, but they are players to watch for the future.

Pierceson finished No. 1 in the 2022 PGA TOUR University Ranking and joined the Korn Ferry Tour, where he won three times.

Parker joined the 2022 PGA TOUR Canada circuit as a result of the PGA TOUR University program and won his seventh start on the circuit. He then joined the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour and has now qualified for the PGA Tour by being top 30 in Korn Ferry.