Gordon Sargent and Brooks Koepka at Augusta National (The Masters)
Ludvig Aberg capped off an incredible rookie season with a rousing four-shot victory in the RSM Classic in Georgia. In April, Aberg was finishing up his Texas Tech career with a Big 12 win in Prairie Dunes. He won on the DP World Tour in September and then was on the winning Ryder Cup team. It's a staggering summer and spring that has him possibly leapfrogging Eric Cole for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors.
Related: Before They Turned Pro: Ludvig Aberg
Some other recent college graduates have made a smooth transition into professional golf in the last few years. Rose Zhang won in her professional debut. Adrian Demont De Chasart won quickly on the Korn Ferry Tour this summer after his impressive career at Illinois.
So, what current college players can continue to prove how deep the pool is by winning on the PGA Tour before the end of 2026? Obviously, this list is going to be limited to players who are on the back end of their college career in order to make it onto the PGA Tour and then win.
Here are our nominees:
Bastian Amat - The 82nd-ranked amateur in the world has already tallied victories in professional events. The Frenchman, and New Mexico University senior, has won three French Golf Federation Tour events. This isn't much different than Ludvig Aberg, who cut his teeth in the Nordic Tour, where he won two events during the pandemic. Amat also qualified for the 2023 U.S. Open, and his Wolf Pack Classic victory gave him a spot in the Barracuda Championship. He made the cut in the Barracuda. Amat has two college wins and a bevy of top tens.
Jackson Buchanan - The Illinois junior just continues to get better and better. He shaved two shots off his stroke average between his freshman and sophomore years (72.84 to 70.92). He played some of his best golf at Greyhawk in May during the NCAA National Championship, shooting 71-68-68-67, finishing one shot behind winner Fred Biondi. This fall he had three top ten finishes, including a win in the Purdue Fall Invitational.
David Ford - Ford is probably the most firey and outgoing player on this list. Ford is part of a solid core at UNC this year. He was a key cog in the Walker Cup and World Amateur Team wins for Team USA. He won the Williams Cup in October. Ford's style of play, highlighted by an excellent short game, seems primed to compete on the PGA Tour as soon as he arrives.
Nick Dunlap - When you're on a list that only includes one other name - Tiger Woods - the hype train is going to be rolling. Dunlap won the U.S. Amateur this past August; he was the 2021 U.S. Junior Am champ, too. Add in his wins in the Northeast Amateur and the North and South and it's pretty clear he is comfortable beating the best fields amateur golf has to offer. Dunlap is a sophomore, so the 2026 timeline is rather aggressive, but his game seems prime for that kind of accompshment.
Austin Greaser - Greaser has spent a lot of his golfing life outside of the brightest spotlights. He wasn't heavily recruited out of high school. UNC coach Andrew DiBitetto struck gold when he lured the Vandalia, Ohio native to Chapel Hill. Greaser was the runner-up at the 2021 U.S. Amateur to James Piot. Since that performance, Greaser has had a bit of a rollercoaster career. He won the Western Amateur in 2022, but has also missed a lot of golf due to wrist and hand injuries.
Christo Lamprecht - The Georgia Tech senior was well-known in college circles before he burst onto the international scene with a 65 at Royal Liverpool in the first round of The Open Championship. Lamprecht might be the future of golf as far as his build. He's 6'10" and has never met a golf course that's too long. His opportunity to play in the Open Championship came from a victory in the Amateur Championship, and Lamprecht was also a pivotal piece of the puzzle in Georgia Tech's run to the NCAA National Championship. He's won twice this fall in the Fighting Illini Invitational and the Ben Hogan Invitational.
Maxwell Moldovan - The kid from the Buckeye State gained a lot of fans when he stayed in Ohio to play for Ohio State. He's played in the last two U.S. Opens, qualifying through the Springfield CC site. He was an alternate in 2023 after an incredible 8-hole playoff. He got off the alternate list and made the cut at LACC. In his junior year, he recorded the lowest scoring average in program history (70.64). He was named to the PING All-American second team in 2023 and recorded seven top-5 finishes. He always seems to make his way up the leaderboard with a solid short game and steady mental game.
Related: Maxwell Moldovan has been a guest on the Amateur Golf Podcast twice first July after his 2022 U.S. Open appearance (listen) in and then just before the 2023 U.S. Open (listen).
Gordon Sargent - Sargent isn't going to be in awe at any professional event. The Vanderbilt superstar has already clinched a PGA Tour card through the accelerated PGA Tour U program. He won the low amateur at the 2023 U.S. Open, which was rather impressive given the attention he receives during these pro events. He admittedly struggled in The Masters, and turned that into a learning experience. With his prodigious length and improving wedge game, it would be hard to imagine that Sargent doesn't win on the PGA Tour in the next three seasons.
Related: Sargent was a guest on The Amateur Golf podcast this summer. His interview starts at the 33:11 mark.
Preston Summerhayes - Summerhayes has golf in his veins. He's quietly putting together a strong amateur career, qualifying for the 2023 U.S. Open and winning the Walker Cup at St. Andrews. "Polished" is a word that comes to mind while watching Summerhayes. He's comfortable playing among the best players in the world; after all, his dad, Boyd Summerhayes, coaches Tony Finau. In 2019, Summerhayes won the The U.S. Junior Amateur. A look at the championship matches this century in the U.S. Junior has quite a few PGA Tour winners - Brian Harmon, Will Zalatoris, Ryan Moore, Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Davis Riley, Matthew Wolfe, and Akshay Bhatia.
Michael Thorbjornsen - The Stanford senior has displayed some of the most explosive golf in amateur golf. He won the 2021 Western Amateur and has been called one of the best drivers of the golf in the world by Standford coach Conrad Ray. Thorbjornsen was in the thick of it in the 2022 Travellers Championship, finishing four shots behind winner Xander Schauffle. The biggest issue for Thorbjornsen is the latest back injury, which has sidelined him since August, causing him to miss the U.S. Amateur, Walker Cup, and Stanford's fall schedule.