5 ascending players on the verge of winning 1st TOUR event

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Few moments in professional golf inspire as much as witnessing a player finally achieving their lifelong dream of becoming a TOUR winner after knocking on the door of victory for some time.

Last season, Matt Fitzpatrick grabbed his first professional win in America at the U.S. Open, Will Zalatoris' long overdue first victory came at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, and Tom Kim won the Wyndham Championship to secure a place in the FedEx Cup Playoffs at the last minute.

So as the 2022-23 campaign slowly picks up its pace, here are five players you can expect to see added to the TOUR winner's column by the conclusion of this season.

Taylor Pendrith

Pendrith is one of the longest hitters off the tee on TOUR, but the 31-year-old Canadian is still looking for his first career win in the big leagues.

Pendrith finished last season ranked 12th in strokes gained: off the tee and 10th in driving distance with a 316.1-yard average. His performance was good enough to get him three top-10 finishes and place him 47th on the FedEx Cup standings at the end of the year.

The fall portion of the TOUR schedule is a great time for players to grab maiden wins, as the fields are typically weaker than the prime, major championship stretch. Last season, Pendrith was able to grab the outright 36- and 54-hole leads at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship before ultimately finishing tied for fifth in just his fifth career event. With a full year's worth of TOUR play under his belt as he enters this fall, expect the heavy hitter to grab his first win, especially on courses that favor his length.

Sahith Theegala

Theegala burst onto the scene last season when he grabbed the 18-hole lead at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He was on his way to victory before a final-round 1-under 71 dropped him into a tie for eighth.

A few months later, the 24-year-old grabbed the second- and third-round leads at the Phoenix Open before finishing in a tie for third. He's proved he can grab a lead, now Theegala just needs to hold onto it until Sunday's round ends.

Theegala ended last season with four straight made cuts and brought that momentum into this one, finishing tied for sixth at the Fortinet Championship in his first event. He gained valuable experience during his first go-around, and a win is right around the corner.

Mito Pereira

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Pereira's meltdown on the 18th tee at Southern Hills Country Club during the PGA Championship will probably serve as a crucial lesson on the road to grabbing his first win.

Another player who just finished his rookie campaign, the 27-year-old Chilean is now entering the fall season with plenty of experience playing on TOUR and leading a field of top professionals.

Pereira's biggest strength is his approach; he ranked ninth on TOUR last season in strokes gained. Pereira must improve his short game and putting, but, after week's Shriners Children's Open, he's already moved up significantly in both strokes gained categories compared to last season. If Pereira can get a good week of putting in, a win will surely follow.

Davis Riley

Riley quietly had one of the best rookie years on TOUR last season as one of just eight first-year players to advance to the BMW Championship in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

At only 25 years old, Riley had one runner-up and five other top-10 finishes. Like the aforementioned others, the American now has the necessary experience on TOUR and can take that into the fall season.

We also know Riley has the ability to close out a win, as he grabbed two victories during the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour season before securing his first TOUR card for 2022. He also nearly won the Valspar Championship last year, only losing it in a playoff. Expect him to be hungrier than ever after coming so close to victory.

Cameron Young

At No. 16, Cameron Young is the top-ranked player without a win on the PGA TOUR, but it's not for a lack of trying. The 25-year-old finished runner-up an incredible five times last season.

Young's biggest strength is his driving; he finished last season second in strokes gained: off-the-tee and third in overall driving distance with a 319.3-yard average, behind only Cameron Champ and Rory McIlroy.

Armed with the confidence of his team's victory at the Presidents Cup last month, Young should be able to find his maiden win on TOUR this season.