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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Players to Watch in 2012

As we count down to the start of the new golf season this weekend, I decided to pick ten players (PGA Tour players, that is) that I think will make some serious noise this year.
  • Luke Donald: I'm already on record for saying that he'll get a major this year and that I think it will be the U.S. Open. I didn't have any reason other than a feeling at the time, but I checked and discovered it will be played at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California. That's a course with really tricky greens -- perfect for Donald. And I look for him to hold on to his #1 ranking all year.
  • Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson: These two are always on the radar, aren't they? But they're on mine for two different reasons -- Tiger because his game seems to be coming back together, and Phil because his health is a matter of conjecture at this time. Both will be favorites at the Masters, of course. If Tiger gets a major this year, I suspect Augusta will be the place... but he's not my pick for the tournament.
  • Keegan Bradley: I was a bit surprised to find that Tim Rosaforte shares my belief that Keegan will have a good sophomore year. I actually believe Keegan will win his second major and, while I don't know which one it will be, he's my fave for the Masters.
  • Rickie Fowler and Jason Day: I just think this is the year they both hit their stride.
  • Sergio Garcia: I mentioned Sergio last week in my year-end wrap of the European Tour. I think he'll make some noise on the PGA Tour this year.
  • Brian Kokrak: I'm looking forward to see what this big hitter from the Nationwide Tour can do on the big stage. He had two NT wins in 2011. I don't know how he'll play, but he should be fun to watch.
  • Bud Cauley: The little guy with the big swing. Cauley got his Tour card the hard way -- he made the money list by qualifying for events and getting sponsors exemptions. I really like his chances this year.
  • Harris English: He got his card at Q-School, but he also played two events on the Nationwide Tour -- won one and lost the other in a playoff. Got game? Oh yeah.
I also like Tom Lewis and Matteo Manassero from the European Tour, but they don't make this list because (obviously) they aren't going to be on the PGA Tour. And add Peter Uihlein since he's playing the ET this season as well. With a little luck we'll see all three at some of the majors.

Speaking of majors, while Bradley and Donald are my current faves for the Masters and the U.S. Open, I need to see how the other guys are playing before I make any picks about the last two.

I'll be interested to see how my picks do this year. Luke Donald made me look like a genius in 2011. Wonder if any of the other players are interested in making this old guy look good? ;-)

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