5 Low-Key Golfers Primed To Bust onto the Scene

Michael Jewett@@JewettMikeContributor IIMay 28, 2012

5 Low-Key Golfers Primed To Bust onto the Scene

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    When it comes to golf, most people can recognize the popular names: Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson (after this past year's Masters) and of course, Tiger Woods.

    As some of the great names of golf continue to play as they always have, a few lower-key golfers have been edging their way onto leaderboards and into conversations that usually begin with, "Hey, have you ever heard of...?"

    Over the past few weeks, these lesser-known golfers have been dominating the PGA Tour as it traveled though Florida and Texas, beginning at the Player's Championship.

    Here are five upcoming golfers to look out for over the rest of the season, which still has three majors and the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs left.

1. Matt Kuchar

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    The first of the PGA pros on the rise is Matt Kuchar, winner of the 2012 Players Championship, the PGA's unofficial fifth major of the year, held at the TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

    Matt Kuchar won that tournament, the fourth victory of his career, by two strokes and finished 13-under par for the tournament.

    2012 has been a successful year for Matt Kuchar, making every cut in the 12 tournaments he has played in—five of these finishes were in the top 10—including a third-place finish at the Masters. These top finishes have placed Matt Kuchar sixth in the Fed Ex Cup points standings.

    His consistent under-par scoring and ability to make cuts has made him a serious threat for this year in upcoming tournaments, making his name known throughout the tour.

2. Rickie Fowler

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    Known more for his Puma sponsorship and bright outfits on the golf course, Rickie Fowler has been working hard this year.

    Breaking out in 2010 as Rookie of the Year, the past month has been huge for Rickie Fowler, placing in the top 10 in his past four events, beginning at the Zurich Classic tied for 10th and following it with his first career victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, NC.

    After the win, Rickie Fowler tied for second at The Players and tied for fifth this past weekend at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Currently in ninth place in the Fed Ex Cup standings, Fowler has drastically improved aspects in his game, primarily driving accuracy and greens in regulation.

    Last year, Rickie Fowler was ranked 157th and tied for 120th in these categories, but is currently 36th and 17th in the standings. He also has the second-best streak for rounds under par at 12.

    With all of these factors in his favor, Rickie Fowler is looking to continue his surge for more victories.

3. Jason Dufner

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    Over the past three weeks, the golfer on everyone's radar has been Jason Dufner.

    Fresh off his second victory of the year at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas, Jason Dufner almost became the first golfer since Tiger Woods in 2001 to win back-to-back tournaments. Unfortunately, he had a rough final round and lost to Zach Johnson by one stroke after a rule violation when Zach Johnson failed to replace his ball marker on the correct spot.

    Jason Dufner's first victory this year at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans also happened to be the first of his career. These victories have helped propel Jason to his current first-place standing on the Fed Ex Cup points list.

    Jason Dufner is currently tied with Matt Kuchar for top-10 finishes at five, but has excelled in driving skills and birdies made, a dual-threat at both ends of each hole.

    If this type of play continues, Jason Dufner can count on sticking around that top spot in the Fed Ex Standings come playoff time.

4. Hunter Mahan

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    As the only other player on the PGA tour with two victories (alongside Jason Dufner), Hunter Mahan has thrust his name into conversations regarding the leaders of the Fed Ex Cup.

    Hunter Mahan is currently ranked second, only 307.2 points behind Jason Dufner.

    Hunter Mahan captured his first victory earlier this year at the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship and added victory No. 2 to kick off April at the Shell Houston Open.

    With Hunter Mahan playing his current style of consistent fairways and sub-par rounds, anything is possible as the season progresses. Looking for a third victory this year, Hunter Mahan certainly has tough competition each weekend in completing that goal.

5. Ben Crane

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    While Ben Crane may be the only golfer in this list to have not yet won in 2012, the season is nowhere near over and one shot can change everything.

    For example, as Friday's round at the Crowne Plaza Invitational was winding down, Ben Crane was walking up to his second shot at the Par 4 No. 18. Currently at three-over, Ben Crane knew he had to hit a shot near the hole to make birdie and slide in under the two-over cut posted.

    Ben Crane looked on as his approach shot soared towards the pin, about two-feet past, and slowly rolled backwards into the cup. With that eagle, Ben Crane moved to one-over for the tournament and safely under the cut mark. His ability to dominate Par 5s keeps him in contention each weekend where longer, driving-style holes outnumber difficult Par 3s on the course.

    With so much left in the season, it is easy to envision Ben Crane holding his own trophy with the other members of "Golf Boys," the PGA boy band that consists of Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson. You can find the music video to their first single "Oh, Oh, Oh" on YouTube.