Ranking the 10 Best Golfers of 2012

Ron Juckett@ronjuckettContributor IIIDecember 26, 2012

Ranking the 10 Best Golfers of 2012

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    The 2012 professional golf season has come to an end.

    With the 2013 PGA Tour season set to begin in a couple weeks at Hawaii’s beautiful Kapalua at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, it is time to take one more look at the best in the world for the season that ended.

    To be ranked in the top 10 on the Official World Golf Rankings at year’s end is an honor. That does not mean, however, that you had one of the best 10 seasons in the world.

    With the rankings based on a two-year average, the computer that crunches these numbers is looking at consistency over a long stretch and not who is the best at the current moment.

    So, let us re-rank the top 10 in order of how well their 2012 went.

10. Louis Oosthuizen

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    OWGR Ranking: 6

    A two-time winner on the European Tour last winter, Louis Oosthuizen will be best known for his double-eagle Sunday on the par-five second hole at the Masters.

    The 2010 Open Champion seemed so close to grabbing his second career major, but lost in a two-hole playoff to Bubba Watson.

    Oosthuizen also finished second at the Deutsche Bank Championships during the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

    He plays very well in the events with the deepest fields and should breakthrough with another big win in 2013. 

9. Lee Westwood

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    OWGR Ranking: 7

    Lee Westwood gave it a good run at both the Masters and the U.S. Open, but couldn't break through into the win column here on the PGA Tour.

    He did win twice elsewhere around the world—including a win on the European Tour in Sweden in June—and was a big part of Europe’s Ryder Cup comeback.

    Westwood also had the chance to reclaim the No. 1 spot in the rankings this spring, but failed to take advantage.

    At 39, you have to wonder just how many more chances Westwood will have to score his first major.

8. Adam Scott

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    OWGR Ranking: 5

    We all know what happened to Adam Scott over the last four holes at the Open Championship.

    He scored a late season win in Asia, but did not win on either the PGA or European Tour.

    So, why is he ranked eighth?

    He had no worse than a tie for 15th at the four majors this year.

    Scott is a consistent player, but not consistent enough to win.

7. Jason Dufner

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    OWGR Ranking: 9

    Two wins here on the PGA Tour, and eight top-10s overall make for a very good season for Jason Dufner.

    Dufner made the cut at all four majors and scored a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open.

    He only missed one cut out of 21 stops on the tour, but was not a factor at the year-end FedEx Cup Playoffs.

    With the way he plays the game, he should be higher on the official list, as well as ours, next year.

6. Luke Donald

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    OWGR Ranking: 3

    Luke Donald was the No. 1 player in the world for most of the first half of the year.

    He won the Transitions Championship in Florida and repeated as the BMW PGA Champion on the European Tour.

    However, his lack of wins on a bigger stage and inability to keep up the game that won him the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic bring him down.

    If he can learn to handle the pressure better, he can grab his major.

    Still, a pretty good year.

5. Justin Rose

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    OWGR Ranking: 4

    Justin Rose registered a big win in March at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami and had two top-10 finishes in majors this year.

    He also finished second at the TOUR Championship to cap off a great season.

    Rose worked on his putting game after missing the cut at the Open Championship and bounced back for a tie for fifth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and a tie for third at the PGA.

    After a magnificent 2012, Rose is in prime shape for a career year in 2013.

4. Brandt Snedeker

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    OWGR Ranking: 10

    The 2012 FedEx Cup winner won twice this past year on tour.

    Before stealing the show in Atlanta at the TOUR Championship, Brandt Snedeker won in a playoff at the Farmers Insurance Open in Los Angeles.

    He also held the 36-hole lead at the Open Championship eventually settling for a third-place tie.

    Snedeker closed the season strong, scoring two top-six finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs before taking the $11.4 million payday in the end.

3. Tiger Woods

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    OWGR Ranking: 3

    He’s back!

    Tiger Woods took home the winner’s check three times in 2012 on the PGA Tour.

    Woods won at some places he was very comfortable with—Bay Hill at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Jack Nicklaus’ tournament at the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio and his own at the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md.

    A contender in the majors this year, Woods could not grab No. 15, but is most likely happy with his play this year.

    Woods' new friendly rivalry with Rory McIlroy should also push him to play his best in 2013.

2. Bubba Watson

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    OWGR Ranking: 8

    Bubba Watson’s hook shot out of the pine straw on the second playoff hole at the Masters won him his first major.

    Watson showed everyone this year that his game is not just his huge length off the tee, but also his ability to create around the greens. His short game emerged into its own in 2012.

    Watson played 19 times on tour this year and made 16 cuts. Every time Watson made a cut, he finished in the Top 25.

    A tie for 23rd at the Open Championship was his worst full event of the year.

1. Rory McIlroy

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    OWGR Ranking: 1

    It would take from here until New Year’s Day to go through Rory McIlroy’s accomplishments this year.

    He won the money title here and in Europe.

    He won four times on the PGA Tour including back-to-back weeks in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

    McIlroy had 10 top-10 finishes and finished in the top five in three World Golf Championships.

    Did we mention his eight-shot win at the PGA?

    When he struggled mid-summer making cuts, it looked like McIlroy had taken a half-step back.

    The 10 steps forward he took from August on made up for it.