Ranking the Best Bets for 2013 Breakout Star on the PGA Tour
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The start of the 2013 PGA Tour season is just six days away, believe it or not.
It seems like a perfect time to peek into the crystal ball one last time and predict who is on the short list of players to be the breakout star on tour in 2013.
In this instance, “breakout star” doesn’t necessarily mean a youngster looking for a win to make a name for himself, rather a player who has some experience at the game’s highest level and appears poised to crack through that glass ceiling and ascend to the level of the PGA Tour’s elite.
Check out this list and my pick for the best bet.
5. Nick Watney
It's time for Nick Watney to make a big move upward.
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No one doubts that Nick Watney is one of the solid, very talented players on the PGA Tour.
He won the 2011 WGC Cadillac Championship and took a spot in the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings after winning the AT&T National later that summer.
But he’s never contended in a major, with his best finishes being a seventh and tie for seventh.
At 31 years of age, the time has come for him to either make a move up or remain just a good, solid player.
So what’s the reason for him to be on this list? He won the first FedEx Cup playoff event, The Barclays, in 2012. While he didn’t do much after that, the promise shown by that victory earns him a spot.
4. Jason Day
Jason Day has all the tools to become an elite player.
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Jason Day has long been considered the next great boy wonder from Down Under, and at the ripe old age of 25, seems to be on his way to fulfilling that promise.
Then came 2012, a year that featured injuries to his back and foot and the birth of he and his wife’s first child. He didn’t have much of year statistically, missing the cut three times, posting four top 10s and racking in $1,143,232 in prize money.
He has one victory on the PGA Tour, the 2010 Byron Nelson Classic. But he was also second in the Masters and U.S. Open in 2011.
He vows to get his mind back on golf and if he does, and stays healthy of course, this could be his year to step up.
3. Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter closed the 2012 season with a victory.
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While the late Seve Ballesteros will always be known as Mr. Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter is certainly making a run at that title.
No one plays the Ryder Cup with more enthusiasm and passion than this brash Englishman, who has just two victories on the PGA Tour—the 2010 WGC Accenture Match Play Championship and the 2012 WGC HSBC Champions.
He was money again in this year’s European comeback in the Ryder Cup and then the big win in China at the end of the year, making him a prime candidate to get off to a flying start in 2013.
Don’t be surprised if the New Year is a big one for Poulter.
2. Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley has all the tools.
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Keegan Bradley has had a pretty special first couple years on the PGA Tour.
He has three victories, including a PGA Championship title and a win at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. And don’t forget that starring role he had with Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup as the best duo the Americans had to offer.
He’s energetic, enthusiastic and has a game that really has no weaknesses. He improved in almost every category in 2012 and certainly appears to be a good candidate to become the next star.
It will be interesting to see how he handles the proposed anchored putting stroke rule and whatever reaction he gets from fans this year.
1. Jason Dufner
A rare smile on the course from Jason Dufner (right).
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The man from Cleveland, Ohio, gives new meaning to the phrase “soft-spoken.”
His laid-back demeanor no doubt played a role in the pair of wins he posted this year as well as the total of eight top 10s that he had. His 3-1 record as a rookie in Ryder Cup competition is a nice addition to his resume as well.
One reason for his improvement in 2012 was how much he moved up in the PGA Tour category of scrambling. In 2010, he was 92nd. In 2012, he finished eighth.
When he gets to Hawaii to open the season, he’ll bring with him a tour-leading streak of 21 consecutive cuts made.
His game is too good, his demeanor and attitude are everything you could ask for and that’s why he’s my pick to be the PGA Tour’s breakout star in 2013.