Predicting Risers and Fallers in Golf During 2013

Mike DudurichContributor IDecember 29, 2012

Predicting Risers and Fallers in Golf During 2013

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    As is trying to play the stock market, trying to pick whose stock will rise and whose will fall on the PGA Tour in 2013 requires a bit of guesswork.

    But a number of outside influences can play a role in the performance in both stocks and players.

    So the most logical and sound way to do either is to rely on the numbers.

    Having taken the numbers into consideration and listened to gut feelings, here’s my list of who will be the risers and fallers in 2013 on the PGA Tour.

Riser: Hunter Mahan

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    Hunter Mahan started the 2011 PGA Tour season hotter than any other player in the game, winning twice and finishing sixth in another event in his first seven starts.

    He didn’t play all that bad as the season moved along, but he didn’t play quite well enough to make the Ryder Cup team and was crushed by that.

    After finishing in a tie for 19th in the Open Championship, his best finish in his next six starts was a tie for 39th. He did tie for eighth in the Tour Championship to end his season.

    He finished 26th in the World Golf Rankings, but is a much better player than that. He’ll still be smarting from the Ryder Cup snub and will have a very big year in 2013.

Faller: Steve Stricker

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    Steve Stricker didn’t have that great of a Ryder Cup this year; he was a captain’s choice by Davis Love III and didn’t come through as he had earlier in his career.

    He lost the Cup-deciding match to Martin Kaymer and posted an 0-4 record in that event. He recently announced he was cutting back his playing schedule and would only compete in 10 events in 2013.

    He had a good season in 2012, winning once and posting a runner-up finish as well as making over $3 million. But he’s not the automatic clutch putter he once was.

Riser: Dustin Johnson

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    Here’s a man has expressed a lofty goal for the 2013 season.

    Dustin Johnson wants to be the No. 1 player in the world, even though he enters the 2013 ranked 23rd in the Official World Golf Rankings.

    He had a pretty darn good year in 2012, even though he missed nearly three months because of a back injury. He shot a 66 in the final round to win the FedEx St. Jude Classic in his second start after the injury.

    That victory gave Johnson the distinction of being the first player since 1996-2000 to go directly from college and win in his first five seasons on the PGA Tour.

    He was 3-0-0 in the Ryder Cup. If he’s healthy, he has plenty of game to play with the elite, but will need to get off to a quick start to gain momentum toward moving up in the world rankings.

Faller: Jim Furyk

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    Preface what I’m about to say with the fact that Jim Furyk has won over $52 million during his career on the PGA Tour. He’s a major champion, having won the U.S. Open in 2003.

    But he perhaps the worst half-season of golf for a man with his pedigree that anyone has seen in a long time. He had a chance to win the U.S. Open when he stepped on the 16th tee at Olympic Club, but a snapped tee shot led to a bogey and his chance to win was lost.

    He almost recorded his first wire-to-wire victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational but double-bogeyed the 18th hole. And he dropped a tough singles match to Sergio Garcia on Sunday of the Ryder Cup.

    He’s been around a long time but he might be starting to show some signs of age. It’s going to be tough for him to overcome the nightmarish finish to his season.

Riser: Tommy Gainey

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    I’ve been a Tommy Gainey fan since I watched him in the Golf Channel’s Big Break show, which he won in 2007.

    Maybe it was the two gloves he wears; maybe it was the fact that before he made it to the PGA Tour, he was wrapping insulation around water heaters in South Carolina.

    It wasn’t easy for him to get his first victory on the PGA Tour, but when he did, it came in style and against a pair of seasoned veterans.

    He was seven shots behind Jim Furyk and Davis Love III going into the final round of the McGladrey Classic and put together a career-low 60 to win by a shot over that duo.

    He got a taste of what it’s like to win on the big stage and he’s got the drive to win more. Look for him to do more of that in 2013.

Faller: Phil Mickelson

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    Phil Mickelson showed a bit of spark in the Ryder Cup, teaming with Keegan Bradley to form the United States’ most formidable duo.

    That strong showing came in a loss to Europe, one of the reasons for which was Mickelson’s key loss to Ian Poulter in the last stages of Sunday’s singles.

    At age 42, Mickelson had a $4 million season, featuring a win and two runner-up finishes.

    But he wasn’t a factor in three of the four major championships and I just have this feeling the Big Lefty is going to have a tough time duplicating 2012 and that this may be the beginning of a dropping-off for Mickelson.

Riser: Charlie Beljan

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    If Charlie Beljan’s career isn’t jump-started by what happened to him at the last-ever Children’s Miracle Hospitals Network Classic, then maybe nothing will.

    After turning pro in 2007, Beljan bounced around the minor leagues for five years before getting his PGA Tour card for 2012. But going into the season’s last event, he wasn’t in a good place. He was 139th on the Tour money list and in danger of not getting his card for ’13.

    Despite experiencing shortness of breath, tightness in his chest and numbness in his arms from the second through the final round, Beljan soldiered on and, despite the advice of doctors, played through the panic attack and won by two shots, ensuring his card for two years.

    I just have the feeling good and big things are coming for him this year.

Faller: Sergio Garcia

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    Sergio Garcia actually won a tournament in 2012 (the Wyndham Championship), the first time that’s happened since 2008.

    He wasn’t anywhere near his dynamite self in the Ryder Cup, posting a mediocre 2-2-0 record, although he did get a critical singles victory against Jim Furyk.

    Since 2008, Garcia has been a mediocre player until the win this year—considering all the mental ups and downs Garcia has gone through,

    I’m thinking the only place he’s going is down. Though underachieving in many people’s minds, we’ve seen the best of the Spaniard.

Riser: Keegan Bradley

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    Keegan Bradley is a PGA Tour star; how else would you describe a guy who in just a couple full years has three victories, including a PGA Championship? He also won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and helped form a dynamic duo with Phil Mickelson at Medinah.

    He’s established, but I get the feeling only the surface has been scratched of what Bradley can accomplish. It’s generally assumed that professional golf will be the domain of Mr. Woods and Mr. McIlroy, but this is a guy who may have a lot to say about that.

    As long as he doesn’t get caught up in the distractions around the proposed anchored putting rule, the No. 12-ranked player in the world has everything it takes to make things crowded at the top of the golf world.

Faller: Vijay Singh

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    A year ago, Vijay Singh was 28th on the PGA Tour’s money list.

    This year he finished 51st and managed just five top-10s in 27 starts. He’s won 34 times but none since 2008.

    He’ll turn 50 in February and while he has maintained his intention of still playing a lot on the PGA Tour, statistical evidence seems to indicate he might be best suited to start his Champions Tour career where he should be a walking, talking ATM machine.