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Which Golfers Had the Biggest Drops in Rankings from the Start of the Year?

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2016

Which Golfers Had the Biggest Drops in Rankings from the Start of the Year?

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    Just because you get it going in the right direction doesn't mean you'll be able to keep it going that way.

    Golf is perhaps the most difficult game to master. Even the top pros know that playing well in all aspects of the game in a particular tournament does not mean that you will be able to do that again the following week.

    It can be especially hard to keep it going from one year to the next. Players can slump badly from one year to the next, but it doesn't mean those players won't bounce back the following season.

    Here's a look at six players who endured big drops in 2012 after playing extremely well the year before.

K.J. Choi

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    K.J. Choi is the most successful Asian-born player in the history of the PGA Tour. He enjoyed a remarkable 2011 season in which he finished fourth on the season-long money-winning list with $4.4 million earnings.

    Choi took a big fall in 2012. He tumbled all the way to 100th on the money-winning list, with $969,000 in earnings.

    Choi had a victory, a second-place finish and a third-place finish in 2011; he had no top-three finishes in 2012.

    One of Choi's biggest issues was his ability to convert birdie situations. He averaged 3.30 birdies per round and that ranked 124th on the tour. That figure helps explain why Choi's 2012 performance was so disappointing.

Rory Sabbatini

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    The hot-tempered Rory Sabbatini went through quite a few difficulties in 2012 after a fine 2011 season.

    Sabbatini earned slightly more than $1.1 million in 2012, ranking 86th on the PGA Tour. The year before, Sabbatini won $2.4 million, which ranked 27th on the tour.

    Sabbatini had a win and a third-place finish in 2011 and he also made the top 25 in nine events. In 2012, Sabbatini had one second-place finish and hit the top 25 six times.

    Sabbatini had several issues on the tour this year, including driving distance and accuracy, but his biggest problem may have been his approach shots.

    His average approach shot from less than 200 yards averaged 51'5" from the flag stick. That ranked 132nd on the tour and that's not going to be good enough to get positive results in most tournaments.

Bill Haas

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    Bill Haas did not have a bad season in 2012, but it was not up to the standards he set for himself in 2011.

    Haas finished 33rd among money earners on the PGA Tour with $2.35 million in earnings this year. However, he finished seventh among all players in 2011 with just under $4.1 million in money earned.

    Haas had one win and two second-place finishes in 2011 and he he also hit the top 25 12 times. In 2012, Haas had one win but he had no other top-three finishes. He made the top 25 seven times.

    Haas's biggest issue in 2012 was his inability to convert in birdie or better situations. He made just 27.93 percent of the shots he had under those circumstances, ranking 110th on the tour.

David Toms

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    Louisiana native David Toms was one of the most dangerous players on the tour in 2011. He was a factor nearly every week and he earned $3.85 million in prize money, ranking 10th in the PGA.

    The 2012 season was quite another story. Toms did not have his "A" game going most of the time. He earned $1.65 million and fell to 46th on the PGA money list.

    Toms had a first-, second- and third-place finish in 2011 and made the top 25 13 times. His numbers fell off in 2012, as he had one second-place finish and made the top 25 eight times.

    Toms will never be one of the tour's big hitters, but his lack of distance was a major issue in 2012. He averaged 275.5 yards off the tee and that ranked 184th on the tour.

    It's difficult to play consistently when you are being outdriven on nearly every hole and that was the case with Toms in 2012.

Y.E. Yang

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    It's difficult to describe the 2012 season for Y.E. Yang as anything but nightmarish.

    He never found his consistency and finished 152nd on the PGA money list with $454,000 in earnings. What made it so tough for Yang to accept is that he finished 32nd on the money list in 2011 with $2.3 million in winnings.

    Yang had one top-25 finish in 2012. In 2011, he made the top 25 eight times and he also had a second- and a third-place finish.

    Yang was not accurate throughout the majority of the golf season. He hit 58.51 percent of his greens in regulation, ranking a humbling 188th on the tour.

Gary Woodland

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    Gary Woodland is not one of the big names on the PGA Tour. However, he was one of the most consistent golfers in 2011, earning $3.45 million and ranking 17th on the tour in that category.

    However, Woodland could not follow up with a good 2012 season. He ranked 131st in earning with $583,000 in prize money.

    Woodland is known for his ability to drive the golf ball for distance, but the the University of Kansas graduate found the fairway just 55.16 percent of the time in 2012, ranking 168th in driving accuracy.

    If he is going to bounce back in 2013, Woodland will have to find the fairway much more often with his drives.

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