Predicting the Final 2012 Golf World Rankings

Immer Chriswell@@immerrangeCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2012

Predicting the Final 2012 Golf World Rankings

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    The 2012 golf season is officially off in running on most major tours, and everyone wants to know who will be this year's "it" man.

    After watching Luke Donald have a lot of successes on both tours, can he sustain his level of play and perhaps pen his name to a major?

    Will Phil Mickelson be able to come up with a big year and move up to the top spot in the world? What about Rory McIlroy?

    And of course, I guess people want to know where Tiger Woods sits. Well, here's how the rankings look right now.

    1. Luke Donald
    2. Lee Westwood
    3. Rory McIlroy
    4. Martin Kaymer
    5. Steve Stricker
    6. Webb Simpson
    7. Adam Scott
    8. Charl Schwartzel
    9. Dustin Johnson
    10. Jason Day
    11. Matt Kuchar
    12. Nick Watney
    13. Graeme McDowell
    14. K.J. Choi
    15. Phil Mickelson
    16. Justin Rose
    17. Sergio Garcia
    18. Hunter Mahan
    19. Ian Poulter
    20. Paul Casey
    21. Bubba Watson
    22. Alvaro Quiros
    23. Louis Oosthuizen
    24. KT Kim
    25. Tiger Woods 

Will Drop from Top 25

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    KT Kim: Kim has become a sensation for the Asian Tour, however if he decides to mix it up more in the PGA Tour, he's looking at a lot more competition and some growing pains in his first year. He hasn't shown to be an explosive talent who could stay with the best so far.

    Louis Oosthuizen: He hasn't done too much spectacularly since winning the British Open, and those points are about to be completely erased in his ranking. Oosthuizen needs to show big if he wants in on the top 25.

    Bubba Watson: He struggled mightily after opening last year hot, and could be looking at a rebuilding year if he can't find his game quick. Overall, his erratic play has finally started to catch up with him.

    Paul Casey: It's more by default than anything despite Casey's struggles as of late. He won't be able to participate in golf for at least two months thanks to an accident on the slopes, and who knows how much time it is before he gets back in competitive shape.

    Ian Poulter: His pants are more electric than his play as of recent. Poulter once said when he was at the top of his game, it would be just him and Tiger. Well, right now, it's him and Tiger both struggling, so we see both sides of his argument.

    Hunter Mahan: He just has never been a spectacular player, and I foresee this year presenting him some challenges.

    Justin Rose: Another player who has had limited successes, and barring any unforeseen miracle wins this year, will drop down to around 30th.

No. 25 to No. 21

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    25. Harris English: Every season has a rookie stud, and Harris English looks to be exactly that. His pedigree is perfect to come out and be a consistent contender and would be a dark horse in any major this year. This is probably a little out on a limb, but he's got the potential.

    24. Zach Johnson: His play is extremely consistent, but I think that this will be an up year for Johnson, who has shown when he's at the top of his game, he's a legitimate major contender. This could be a major step forward in trying to get some more American golfers on the map if Johnson could step up.

    23. Alvaro Quiros: Starting at 22, ending at 23, not too bad. Quiros seemed to have a poor end to what was shaping up to be a strong year. He couldn't find much about his game, and his inaccuracies became more costly than usual. This will be a rebuilding year, and Quiros will probably play level enough to keep in the top 25.

    22. K.J. Choi: He had an up year and got on everyone's radar to make a big push in the close of what has been a very good PGA career. However, everyone's got their limits, and I don't think K.J. can take it that much further. While he may hit a few successes, it won't be enough to keep him from slipping up.

    21. Brandt Snedeker: He has been poised for successes all his career, but a little bit of rush in his game has held him back. This is the year that Brandt Snedeker will find a rhythm that will fit his game perfectly and move him up in the world of golf.

No. 20 to No. 16

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    20. Keegan Bradley: He found a lot of success his rookie year, and everyone is hoping that a sophomore slump isn't in store for him. It's going to be hard to stack up to his rookie year, but after how much success he saw, I find it hard to believe he won't be able to keep it up and keep moving forward. His second full year on tour will help with the point system for sure.

    19. Bill Haas: The FedEx Cup Champion definitely earned his way to the President's Cup and has shown that he can consistently contend. The only fear to have is the midseason lull he experienced. However, after a breakout year, you would expect him to follow it up by showing what he's learned.

    18. Graeme McDowell: He was the biggest name on the planet for golf just a little while back. He was the man who thwarted Tiger Woods' first comeback at the Chevron World Challenge just over a year ago. However, he's slipped since then. His last year was nothing impressive, and this small slip may be generous, as he found out he needs to keep working his game.

    17. Rickie Fowler: He found his first win over in Asia. His confidence may finally be there. It doesn't matter he doesn't have a PGA Tour victory yet, because this is a new year. Nobody has any steam going yet (less those from the first few weeks). Fowler has a chance to go from "bust" to a big factor for American golf.

    16. David Toms: For Toms, this is his big push before the end of his full PGA Tour career. He needs to make a statement about his game to become one of the players who we remember in the history of American golf. Toms made great pushes this past season, and with his experience, will be able to build off them instead of going backwards, which so many do.

No. 15 to No. 11

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    15. Dustin Johnson: He struggled mightily this year, found a short success and doesn't seem to be quite stable in his game. This could be a year where Johnson takes a step in the right direction but doesn't do enough to keep his current rank of No. 9.

    14. Matt Kuchar: With the way the World Golf Rankings is run, Kuchar's best year of golf, two years ago, will have no factor in his current ranking. The points he has earned will start to dwindle unless he can keep posting these hugely consistent numbers. It just doesn't seem likely that Kuchar will do as much this year as he has.

    13. Phil Mickelson: As of late, Phil Mickelson seems to be an afterthought compared to his past. It's understandable, but Phil won't just go away. He's going to keep being successful because he's that talented without effort. While I don't think Phil is going to make a big push in the rankings, up two spots in an increasing deep world of golf is still impressive.

    12. Nick Watney: One of the few players who will stay at his original ranking, Watney hasn't found his success in the big events so far. However, it takes a lot of learning over the years, or something within that player to do so. With Watney, a combination of the two seems to be the formula right now. Watney is going to find a mix of success this year, more than last year, but those points won't be enough to make any headway this year.

    11. Martin Kaymer: Kaymer didn't make any big splash over on the PGA Tour in 10 events last year. He played well, but he could have definitely played up to the expectations set. If he wants to keep such a high rank in the world, it's going to take more than a residual major sitting in the World Golf Rankings system. It's going to take a legitimately good year, which Kaymer doesn't look poised to have.

No. 10 to No. 6

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    10. Sergio Garcia: You finally got to see Sergio Garcia smile, two weeks in a row. Garcia posted two of the most impressive back-to-back wins of recent memory. Yes, it was in his home country, but he took those wins over the rest of the field. This year? Garcia has the chance to take that and build. He was one of the few players to make the cut in all of the majors, and that can only be a building block for him.

    9. Jason Day: Jason Day is one of the most electrifying talents the PGA will come to see in the next 10 to 15 years. This will not be the year he makes a huge splash, but it is a stepping stone. Day is going to find a lot of success on the PGA Tour. There's even a chance Day could be a top player in the coming years. This year? One spot closer.

    8. Tiger Woods: Who thought I was going to stick Tiger Woods at the top of the list? You were wrong. Right now, Tiger sits at 25. It's a far cry from No. 8, but this is what I see Tiger doing. Two, three wins. Some top-five finishes, top-10 finishes. That's what you will see Tiger Woods do this year. Major? I'm not hedging my bets on it, but I would never count him out.

    7. Charl Schwartzel: After one of the most electrifying wins in Masters history, Charl Schwartzel didn't make major waves, but he was there throughout the season. Schwartzel will be finding success no matter which tour he plays on this year. He's going to bump up that single spot from No. 8 to No. 7.

    6. Lee Westwood: Lee Westwood has been one of the most consistently disappointing talents golf has seen. He is proclaimed to be one of the next great players, set to contend, and that's all he does. Contend. He doesn't win the big events. They're called majors. He hasn't won one, and right now, hasn't shown that he will. Slipping from second to sixth may seem a big deal, but it really isn't. These numbers are pretty fluid, and that's what this season will show.

No. 5: Steve Stricker

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    Another one of the people to keep his rank, Stricker had an amazing year. He showed the timeless nature of his talent and brought us back to it all with the win at the John Deere Classic.

    Stricker is here for a purpose. He wants a major. He's done everything else that a golfer could dream, and it's the last thing he wants to do.

    Somewhere this year, my prediction: Steve Stricker could very well be a winner in a major. More likely than anyone else thus far.

No. 4: Webb Simpson

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    Meet one of the leading faces of American golf for years to come. Webb Simpson proved that he has what it takes to be the face of American golf in the past year. 

    He's young, electrifying, has all the intangibles. He was one of the top players this past year and will be for years to come. Webb Simpson will be one of the best golfers of this generation. 

    There's nothing to indicate he cannot be the person for American golf, not as the next Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, etc.

    He's the next Webb Simpson. He's going to write his own story, and starting from last year, continuing into this year, and for years to come, you will want to read that story.

No. 3: Adam Scott

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    As much as it pains me to say it, Steve Williams has been a positive influence on Adam Scott. In his golf game, at least.

    Scott reinvented himself with a sense of confidence in his game that has taken him to a new level. He was supposed to be the person to compete with Tiger when he was in his youngest years on tour.

    Now? Tiger is going to have to compete with Scott until the close of his career, and that starts now.

No. 2: Rory McIlroy

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    Remember, this is a projection for the end of the year.

    I am not guaranteeing that McIlroy won't be the No. 1 this year, but I am saying that at the close of the year, it will be another person.

    Rory showed us exactly what he has the potential to become. His US Open win is one that will be recounted and compared to when others thrash the field.

    He's going to be a major factor this year in the battle for No. 1, he may even take another major, but it won't be enough to be No. 1 going into the 2013 golf season.

    That title belongs to...

No. 1: Luke Donald

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    Luke Donald. That's exactly who has shown is the most capable golfer on the planet, and that you don't need to be the long driver to win events.

    What you need is a short game, the ability to scramble, save strokes and not give away the par putts. His average day of practice features about 100-150 balls on the range, and then, he goes to the green. That's how Luke Donald operates.

    Every amateur is told short game builds a champion. Look at Luke Donald, and you will see that exactly. Because of all of this, Luke Donald will be No. 1 in the world of golf going into the 2013 world golf season.