10 Best Europeans on the PGA Tour

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIDecember 1, 2013

10 Best Europeans on the PGA Tour

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    Over the past few seasons, Europeans have dominated the win column at PGA Tour events. Not so much, last year. 

    However, Sweden's Henrik Stenson won twice and captured the biggest prize, the FedEx Cup. 

    Martin Laird, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose and Jonas Blixt were the only other Europeans to win on the PGA Tour in 2013.

    Several top European names, such as Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Martin Kaymer, failed to hoist trophies last season.

    Of the top Europeans, who are the best bets to win on the PGA Tour in 2014?

10. Peter Hanson

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    Peter Hanson has six wins on the European Tour but has yet to win in America. 

    Although he struggled with some injury issues last season, he earned $610,000 and finished No. 127 in the FedEx Cup.

    He was a member of the 2012 European Ryder Cup team that beat the U.S. at Medinah and has the game to compete on the PGA Tour.

    In 2012, Hanson finished T-3 in the Masters and T-7 at the PGA Championship.

    If he can stay healthy, 2014 could be a big year for him on the PGA Tour.

9. Martin Laird

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    Scotland's Martin Laird will turn 31 years old at the end of this year and has three PGA Tour wins on his resume.

    He seems to have a thing for winning in every odd year. In 2009, he won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

    He won the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational, and his most recent title came at the 2013 Valero Texas Open last March.

    Laird missed eight cuts in 2013 but still managed two top-10 finishes, earned $1.7 million and finished the year at No. 44 in the FedEx Cup standings.

    He has nearly $11 million in career earnings and is reaching that age when golfers tend to mature and start to win in bunches.

    Could 2014 be his breakout year?

8. Martin Kaymer

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    Martin Kaymer has 10 career victories on the European Tour. He added the Wanamaker Trophy to his mantle by winning the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

    Kaymer's last win anywhere came at a the 2011 WGC-HSBC Champions in China. Although he was not a PGA Tour member at the time, he has since joined the tour, and the WGC-HSBC has been added to his official PGA Tour win total. 

    He even spent eight weeks as the No. 1-ranked player in the world before Luke Donald knocked him out of the top spot.

    Kaymer did not have his best year in 2013. He only had three top-10 finishes in 17 events, earned $883,000 and finished at No. 103 in the FedEx Cup race.

    Swing changes and injuries have hampered Kaymer, but he has the talent to win big in 2014.

7. Luke Donald

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    Luke Donald had a career year in 2011, winning the money titles on both the PGA and European Tours.

    He added wins at the Transitions Championship on the PGA Tour and at the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour in 2012.

    His best finish on the PGA Tour last season was a third-place finish at the RBC Heritage. He had five top-10 finishes in 2013 and won $1.9 million but finished No. 55 on the FedEx Cup rankings.

    2013 was to be the year that Donald finally won a major. But he finished T-25 at the Masters and T-8 at the U.S. Open and missed the cut at both the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.

    With Adam Scott and Justin Rose winning majors last year, Luke Donald is on the short list of best players to have not won a major title.

    Will 2014 be his year?

6. Ian Poulter

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    International man of mystery and part-time snappy dresser, Ian Poulter has two official victories on the PGA Tour.

    He won the 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play and the WGC-HSBC Champions.

    After the putting clinic Poulter put on at the 2012 Ryder Cup, everyone expected a big year from him in 2013.

    He did not have a win last year, but he did have four top-10 finishes and earned $1.7 million on the PGA Tour.

    Poulter finished the year strong in the Race to Dubai Final Series with a runner-up at the WGC-HSBC, T-5 in Turkey and another runner-up in the DP World Championship Finals in Dubai.

    He ended the year at No. 2, just behind Henrik Stenson, in the European Tour's Race to Dubai. 

    Can he carry this momentum over to 2014 and become a consistent winner in America?

5. Lee Westwood

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    Lee Westwood will turn 41 years old at the end of April and has yet to win a major tournament.

    He primarily played on the European Tour for most of his career and has 22 wins over there. He also has two wins on the PGA Tour.

    He even held the No. 1 ranking in the world for 22 weeks and has finished inside the top 10 in 11 of the last 24 major tournaments.

    Last year Westwood moved his entire family to Florida to concentrate on winning a major before his golfing days are over.

    He finished the 2013 PGA Tour season with six top-10 finishes and over $2 million in earnings but still no major trophy.

    Westwood needs a major trophy to validate an otherwise Hall of Fame career. 

4. Graeme McDowell

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    Graeme McDowell has been one of the best players in the world for several years. 

    He won the 2010 U.S. Open over a very difficult Pebble Beach golf course. He hits his driver straight, is an excellent iron player and, when the putter is working, can win anywhere.

    In addition to getting married last year, he won twice in Europe and once in America. 

    McDowell had somewhat of an inconsistent year last year. Uncharacteristically, he missed several cuts on both the PGA and European Tours.

    Maybe he just wanted some weekends off to spend with the new bride.

    Look for GMac to find the top of the leaderboard again in 2014.

3. Justin Rose

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    Justin Rose was able to erase his name from the dreaded "best golfer to have never won a major" list last year with his win at Merion in the U.S. Open.

    Rose has steadily improved his golf game and world standing since turning professional in 1998.

    He has won five PGA Tour titles and six more on the European Tour and is currently ranked No. 5 on the Official World Golf Rankings.  

    In addition to his win last year at the U.S. Open, he had a total of seven top-10 finishes and earned over $4 million on tour.

    At 33 years old, Rose seems to just be maturing and has several years to add to his trophy case.

    Don't be surprised to see him win more in 2014. 

2. Rory McIlroy

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    Rory McIlroy has been at the top of the golf world since turning professional in 2007 at the tender age of 18.

    He has six PGA and five European Tour wins, plus two major titles on his resume. In addition to winning the 2011 U.S. Open, he won the 2012 PGA Championship on wind-swept Kiawah Island. 

    Although he struggled in 2013 with a new equipment deal, swing changes and management issues, he showed improvement at the end of the year.

    McIlroy has accomplished much in his short time as a professional.

    He has too much talent to stay away from the winner's circle too much longer.

1. Henrik Stenson

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    In just two years, Henrik Stenson was able to climb from No. 212 in the world to No. 3. Who can argue with him when he says he expects to overtake Tiger Woods for the top spot?

    Since the Open Championship in July, Stenson has been unbeatable and became the first golfer to win the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same season.

    He has witnessed the depths of golf and climbed the mountain all the way back to the top.

    There is no question that he is the best European golfer right now, but passing Woods may take some doing.