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Breakout performances on the DP World Tour from the 2023 season

Breakout performances on the DP World Tour from the 2023 season

By Mathieu Wood

As the first third of the season comes towards a close following a run of 12 individual events and the excitement of the Hero Cup, the DP World Tour reaches a rest week in the 2023 schedule.

Since the campaign opened with a double-header in Australia alongside a swing of co-sanctioned events with the Sunshine Tour, the Tour has since held events in the Middle East and Asia, with several players starting to make their mark. 

Ahead of a return to Africa for the Magical Kenya Open next week, we reflect on some of the breakout performances so far on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex.

Ockie Strydom  

The South African claimed his maiden DP World Tour title with victory on home soil at the co-sanctioned Alfred Dunhill Championship in December. His two-shot triumph at Leopard Creek Country Club, featuring a course record 63 in the third round, earned him a two-year exemption on the DP World Tour.  His dream start to the season continued when he stormed to his second win in just six starts with a one-shot victory at the inaugural Singapore Classic earlier this month. A final-round nine under par 63 saw the 28 year old  overturn a four-shot overnight deficit at Laguna National Golf Resort Club to become the first two-time winner on Tour this season. He is placed fifth on the Race to Dubai Rankings and has already matched the two wins his countryman Thriston Lawrence enjoyed last year on his way to winning the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.

Dan Bradbury  

Having only turned professional midway through 2022, the Englishman made headlines in November with a wire-to-wire victory at the opening event of the season. Coming into the Joburg Open with no status, the 23-year-old made full use of his tournament invite at Houghton Golf Club to claim a life-changing first Tour win. There have been plenty more highs since, including a hole-in-one at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on his Rolex Series debut in January. He was then in contention at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, playing in the same group as eventual winner Rory McIlroy in both the third and fourth rounds. He made every cut in his first seven starts, with his fantastic run only coming to an end at the Thailand Classic. His impressive start to life in the professional ranks and on the DP World Tour has taken him to 16th on the Race to Dubai. With a spot in the field for The 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in July already secured, courtesy of his win in Johannesburg, there is a lot to smile about for Bradbury.

Julien Brun

A three-time Challenge Tour winner, the Frenchman finished a career-best 80th on the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex last season as he retained his full playing privileges. He is on track to far surpass that performance already, with two top fives and a 12th place finish in five appearances this campaign. He was third behind countryman and winner Antoine Rozner in Mauritius in December but his fifth-place finish at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic last month was his best Rolex Series performance to date as he climbed into the top ten on the Race to Dubai Rankings. He will be hoping to keep that momentum going at the Magical Kenya Open, an event where he finished tied 13th last year.

Tom McKibbin

Hailing from the same town as Rory McIlroy means Holywood teenager McKibbin has perhaps been under greater scrutiny than many of his fellow DP World Tour rookies. But that doesn’t appear to intimidate the 19-year-old, who has taken to life on Tour like a duck to water. After earning his Tour card for the first time by finishing tenth on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca last season, the Northern Irishman recorded top 20s in his first three starts in South Africa at the back end of last year - and had the joy of registering a hole in one at the Investec South African Open Championship. He then showcased his talent once again with a 64 in the first round of the Singapore Classic as he went on to register his best performance of the season so far by finishing 12th.

Jayden Schaper

The run of co-sanctioned events with the Sunshine Tour at the start of the season provides a useful platform for South African players to shine, and 21-year-old Schaper seized the opportunity. After struggling on the European Challenge Tour last year, he has enjoyed several strong results in the early stages of the 2023 DP World Tour campaign. After back-to-back top 20s at the Joburg Open and his national Open, he finished 26th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship before closing out the year with a top ten in Mauritius. After returning to play in the Challenge Tour’s season-opening event in his homeland, he missed his first cut of the season in Singapore before finishing 17th in Thailand. He improved on that result a week later on his Hero Indian Open debut at the challenging DLF Golf and Country Club, ending the event in a share of 13th place and climbing to 59th on the Race to Dubai Rankings.

Ryo Hisatsune

The Japanese player made a stunning start to the season, finishing in a share of second place at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane. He held the lead after the first round of the Ras Al Khaimah Championship at the start of February before settling for a share of 28th place, which meant he finished no worse than a tie for 31st in three of his next four events after that stunning start in Australia. Another top ten followed in India last week thanks to back-to-back sub-70 rounds over the weekend at the tricky DLF Golf and Country Club, to take the 20-year-old back inside the world’s top 200.

Simon Forsström

Having earned his DP World Tour card with a two-stroke victory at the Final Stage of Qualifying School in November, the 33-year-old hit the ground running with top-ten finishes at the Joburg Open and AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open before Christmas. Since then, he has bounced back from a missed cut in Ras Al Khaimah to play all four rounds in Singapore and Thailand, and finished the Asian Swing strongly as a closing 67 helped him to a share of eighth place in India. With three top tens to his name in his first eight starts of the campaign, the one-time Challenge Tour winner, who turned professional in 2009, sits 51st on the Race to Dubai Rankings.

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