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The first-time winners on the DP World Tour in the 2022-23 season

The first-time winners on the DP World Tour in the 2022-23 season

From the opening weekend of the 2023 season, the DP World Tour witnessed players celebrating their breakthrough win on Tour at various stages in their careers.

First-time winners collage

Across 45 events played in 27 countries on the 2023 schedule, 18 first-time winners emerged from four different continents.

From a life-changing success in their debut year as a professional to another uplifting breakthrough success after years of toil, the 2023 Race to Dubai campaign delivered several significant storylines.

Here, we look at the players to break into the winner’s circle last season.

Dan Bradbury

In just his third start on the DP World Tour, Dan Bradbury completed a stunning wire-to-wire victory at the Joburg Open as the 2023 season got off to a memorable start.

Four months after turning professional, the then 23-year-old Englishman made the most of a sponsor’s invite to clinch a magnificent three-shot win.

In addition to grabbing a DP World Tour card, Bradbury also secured the added bonus of a place in the field at The 151st Open.

"It means the world, I wouldn't be stood here without [the invite],” he said. “I wouldn't have anywhere to play this year really without it. It's been life-changing now.”

Ockie Strydom

We didn’t have long to wait for the second first-time winner to emerge as South African Ockie Strydom produced a back-nine blitz to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship on home soil at Leopard Creek Country Club.

After a course-record tying 63 in the third round, the then 37-year-old held an overnight share of the lead.

He remained in that position at the turn before he reeled off birdies at the tenth, 11th, 13th and 14th as he closed with a three-under 69 to win by two shots.

After 19 runner-up finishes earlier in his career, the victory was a sweet one as he earned a two-year exemption on the DP World Tour.

He said: “I’ve finally done it. To do it on Leopard Creek as well is something special. It's nice. I think my plans just changed a little bit!”

Strydom claimed his second DP World Tour title in six starts a few months later at the Singapore Classic as he fired a closing nine-under 63 to win at Laguna National.

Matthew Baldwin

South Africa was proving a lucky charm for breakthrough acts as Matthew Baldwin followed on from Bradbury and Strydom by securing his maiden DP World Tour title at the SDC Championship in March.

In his 200th DP World Tour start, the former England Boys captain cruised to a seven-shot victory at St Francis Links.

A 19th-placed finish on last season’s European Challenge Tour Road to Mallorca Rankings earned him his seventh full season on the DP World Tour and he was in reflective mood at the trophy presentation.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what’s just happened!" he said. "It’s been a tough few years, so obviously to get the win means absolutely everything.”

Nick Bachem

A week later, the second of back-to-back co-sanctioned tournaments with the Sunshine Tour brought about another first-time winner as Nick Bachem made his breakthrough at the Jonsson Workwear Open.

In just his 12th start on Tour, the 2022 Qualifying School graduate headed a crowded leaderboard for much of the final day at The Club at Steyn City before pulling clear to finish 24 under par and win by four shots.

"I just had the goal to enjoy today, it's just the beginning of my career so I just enjoyed it as much as possible and played great and got lucky that it was my day,” he said.

Simon Forsström

The fifth player to break into the DP World Tour winner’s circle earlier this season was Simon Forsström, who earned his Tour card with victory on his 11th visit to Qualifying School last November.

After three top-ten finishes over the first five months of the campaign, the Swede arrived at the Soudal Open in confident spirits and delivered a stirring finish with three birdies in his final five holes to hold off the challenge of countryman Jens Dantorp to win by one shot.

Belgium was proving a popular country for Forsström as it was also the scene of his one and only European Challenge Tour win to date.

He said: "I hope I can keep proving myself and that this wasn’t one time."

Tom McKibbin

The Challenge Tour has long proven a great breeding ground for future DP World Tour winners and Tom McKibbin was the latest example when he sealed his maiden Tour title at the Porsche European Open.

One of six players in a share of the 54-hole lead, the Northern Irishman held off the challenge of home hopes Maximilian Kieffer, Marcel Siem and France’s Julien Guerrier at Green Eagle Golf Courses in Germany.

An exceptional approach into the par-five 18th set up a two-putt birdie that sealed a two-shot win. His victory also saw him become the fifth player in the event’s last six editions to make their breakthrough into the winner’s circle.

“(I’ve learned) that I’m good enough to win,” he said. “I always thought I was but to prove it today was pretty special.”

Dale Whitnell

The very next event on the schedule saw Dale Whitnell complete his long journey to the winner’s circle at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, 14 years after turning professional.

A second-round 61 helped the Englishman open up a commanding six-shot lead at the halfway stage at Ullna Golf and Country Club.

That advantage was reduced to four with one round to play and was cut to two with two to play on the final day as American Sean Crocker put the pressure on with a closing 65.

But Whitnell birdied the 17th before two fine blows up the last allowed the champion to enjoy his crowning moment.

"It's been a long time coming, I'm ecstatic,” he said. “It means everything to me, it's what I get up every day for. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. I've dreamt of this for a long time."

Wyndham Clark

It was a case of three in a row as a week later the US Open saw American Wyndham Clark become the first of two Americans this season to mark their first win on the DP World Tour at a Major Championship.

On a week where records tumbled, Clark denied Rory McIlroy a long-awaited fifth major win as he held his nerve to win his national championship by one shot at The Los Angeles Country Club.

It came just a month after his first professional title at the Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA TOUR.

"I feel like I belong on this stage and even two, three years ago when people didn't know who I was, I felt like I could still play and compete against the best players in the world," he said. "I felt like I've shown that this year.”

Daniel Hillier

As finishes to win your first Tour title go, there can’t be many better in recent memory than how Daniel Hillier played his way to victory at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Sir Nick Faldo.

The New Zealander was not viewed as being in the picture on the front nine but finished his round with a flourish, going eagle-birdie-eagle from the 15th to post a six-under 66 and set the target at 10 under.

With the final groups several holes behind him, Hillier had to wait around an hour before his victory was confirmed as he became the fourth 2022 Challenge Tour graduate to win this season.

"I'm over the moon and a bit lost for words,” he said. "Those last few holes are going to take a while to process I think.”

Vincent Norrman

Running the same week as the Genesis Scottish Open, the Barbasol Championship presented DP World Tour members who were not in the Rolex Series event’s field the opportunity to play on the PGA TOUR.

Sweden's Vincent Norrman parred the first play-off hole to deny Challenge Tour graduate Nathan Kimsey victory on his PGA TOUR debut.

Kimsey had carded a flawless 64 to post the clubhouse target of 22 under par which was later matched by Norrman.

“I don’t think I’ve dreamt this big, honestly,” he said in the immediate aftermath of his win. “I don’t think I can process this for a while. I’m at a loss for words. It’s amazing.”

Less then two months later, Norrman would go on to claim his second victory over a world class field at the Horizon Irish Open.

The Swede came from six strokes behind on the final day, stringing together six birdies in eight holes around the turn either side of a lengthy weather delay to surge into contention and set the clubhouse target at 14 under par.

With the chasing pack unable to catch him, his bogey-free 65 was enough to secure a one shot triumph over Hurly Long.

"It means everything. Obviously such a cool event to play. The fans have been incredible. I've really had a fun week.

Brian Harman

The final Major Championship of the season saw Brian Harman produce a brilliant display of links golf to be crowned Champion Golfer of the Year at The 151st Open.

The American seized command of the tournament with a flawless six-under 65 to hold a commanding five-shot lead at the halfway stage.

Despite Jon Rahm charging into contention with a 63 – the best score in an Open at Royal Liverpool – Harman retained his five-shot advantage after a 69.

The final round brought with it heavy and persistent rain but despite two early bogeys, at the second and fifth, he bounced back impressively with back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh and from there his lead was never in serious jeopardy.

“To win what I consider the greatest prize in golf is as good as it gets,” he said.”

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Akshay Bhatia

Later that same day, another American emerged victorious as Akshay Bhatia won his maiden DP World Tour and PGA TOUR title at the Barracuda Championship.

The 21-year-old defeated countryman Patrick Rodgers on the first play-off hole at Tahoe Mountain Club after both players finished the week with 40 points under the Modified Stableford Scoring format.

On the first extra hole, a two-putt par proved enough for Bhatia after Rodgers’ tee shot unfortunately settled in a divot on the fairway and resulted in a bogey.

Reflecting on earning an exemption to play on the DP World Tour, he said: “I’m excited that I get that opportunity as well. It kind of opens some flood gates over there.”

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Daniel Brown

Following a three-week break in the schedule, rookie Daniel Brown became the 13th player to earn his maiden win with a wire-to-wire victory at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics in just his 20th start on the DP World Tour.

It has been a long road to the winner's circle for Brown, who played his first DP World Tour event at the 2015 KLM Open but had to wait seven years and two months for his second appearance, but everything clicked for the Englishman in Northern Ireland.

With impressive front-running Brown began the final round six shots ahead, and despite that being pulled back briefly to just two shots by Alex Fitzpatrick, three birdies in his last five holes helped him secure a five stroke win over his compatriot.

"It feels amazing," said Brown. "I could never have dreamed this up in the past however many years and months."

Todd Clements

A week later, it was the turn of Brown's good friend Todd Clements to make his breakthrough on the DP World Tour at the D+D REAL Czech Masters.

In his rookie season, the Challenge Tour graduate produced brilliant bogey-free 63 - which he later described as the round of his career - to hold off the challenge of Matt Wallace and win by one shot at Albatross Golf Resort.

Clements, who trailed overnight co-leader Wallace and Sami Välimäki by three shots heading into the final round, made three hat-tricks of birdies from the first, sixth and 11th to record his lowest round in a European Tour group event.

"I know I can compete at this level," he said. "I’ve always believed it deep down and to show it today I’m very proud of myself.”

Ludvig Åberg

The trend of first-time DP World Tour winners continued the very next week as Ludvig Åberg emerged as the King of the Mountains at the Omega European Masters.

On his event debut and just into his fourth month of being a professional, the Swede showcased his talent and temperament to win in the Swiss Alps.

Four birdies in his final five holes saw him close with a 64 at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club to finish two shots ahead of countryman Alexander Björk.

It was an impressive performance by the 23-year-old who earned a Captain's pick from Luke Donald a day later to make his Ryder Cup debut for Team Europe.

“I don't even know where to start, it's a pretty surreal feeling to be honest,” Aberg said. “Obviously super, super happy. I've always had that belief that I've been able to do it, but to do it is pretty cool."

Ryo Hisatsune

A few weeks later, Ryo Hisatsune became just the third Japanese player to win on the DP World Tour at the Cazoo Open de France.

Having begun the final day four shots off the lead, the 21-year-old did not look a likely winner as he turned in level par at Le Golf National but three birdies in four holes to start the back nine put him in a share of the lead and he added two more at the difficult 15th and 17th to sign for a 66 and finish at 14 under, two shots clear of England's Jordan Smith and Dane Jeff Winther.

The victory went a long way to helping him named as the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year, 12 months on from securing his card through Qualifying School.

He finished 17th on the final Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex as he secured dual membership with the PGA TOUR for the 2024 season, taking the tenth and final available card.

"It feels unreal," he said. "For me, I didn’t think I would win, but I just won! I’m feeling delighted, it’s my first win, I’m so happy. The front nine I did not play well, but the back nine I played very well. I think this was because I wanted to win.

"It’s been nothing like I thought (his DP World Tour career so far). I only turned pro three years ago, first years playing in Japan, then on to the DP World Tour through Q School. Now I’m here with my first win in my pro career – it’s so amazing."

Matthieu Pavon

While Hisatsune entered the winner's circle in his rookie season, there were others whose maiden title came several years into their time on the DP World Tour.

The Frenchman arrived at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid for the acciona Open de España presented by Madrid with three runner-up finishes on both the European Challenge and DP World Tours but had never won a European Tour group event despite being an incredibly consistent performer over eight seasons.

After an opening 63, he followed up with rounds of 68-66-64 to get to 23 under and claim a convincing wire-to-wire victory.

He continued that fine form over the closing weeks of the campaign, registering three top 15s in his final four events including at the DP World Tour Championship to secure dual status on the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR in 2024.

Speaking about his victory in Spain, he said: "That was a long wait, seven years on the DP World Tour and I didn't have a win yet, hadn't won on the Challenge Tour before so that was a long wait but it really was worth it."

Max Homa

The last of our 18 first-time winners came at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the penultimate event of the season on the Race to Dubai.

Making his debut on South African soil, six-time PGA TOUR winner Max Homa produced an imperious display at Sun City to claim his first overseas win in wire-to-wire fashion.

A six-under 66 sealed a four-shot victory over Denmark's Nicolai Højgaard.

“It was a crazy day – I got off to such a great start and Thorbjørn (Olesen) was playing unbelievable," said the American. "He kept pushing us along and Nicolai (Højgaard) was playing phenomenal golf so it was fun.

“It's kind of what you dream of, you want to be in the fight and it was fun to close it out at the end.”

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