Predicting the Biggest Risers, Fallers in 2015 Official World Golf Rankings

Mike DudurichContributor IJanuary 22, 2015

Predicting the Biggest Risers, Fallers in 2015 Official World Golf Rankings

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    Tiger Woods will be a riser in 2015.
    Tiger Woods will be a riser in 2015.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Because of the way the Official World Golf Ranking is set up, there is rarely massive movement one way or another in the standings.

    If a player wins two or three tournaments in a year, he can make a move upward.

    What will 2015 bring in terms of rising and falling among the world's best golfers?

    Here's a list of a half-dozen PGA Tour players and what might be ahead for them in the new PGA Tour season.

Falling: Phil Mickelson

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    Phil Mickelson's reign as one of the elite players in the game may be coming to an end.
    Phil Mickelson's reign as one of the elite players in the game may be coming to an end.Peter Morrison/Associated Press

    Official World Golf Ranking: 16

    Phil Mickelson's 2014 season was highly unforgettable. He didn't post a top-10 finish until the PGA Championship in August.

    His results were a precipitous drop from 2013, and at age 44, questions begin to arise. Mickelson deals with psoriatic arthritis, as well as the general wear and tear of a long career.

    Mickelson announced recently he would be skipping the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open, a pair of events at which he's been successful over the years. He's doing so to spend time with his children, who have spring break those two weeks.

    Who knows what will happen, but signs point toward a decline for the big left-hander.

Rising: Justin Thomas

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    Justin Thomas has the makings of a PGA Tour superstar.
    Justin Thomas has the makings of a PGA Tour superstar.Hugh Gentry/Associated Press

    Official World Golf Ranking: 107

    Remember the name Justin Thomas.

    He's just 21 years old and a rookie on the PGA Tour, but he's already attained success in the game and gives every indication that success will continue.

    Thomas led Alabama to an NCAA title as a freshman, and after another good year as a sophomore, he left the Tide to go pro.

    He qualified for the Web.com Tour and made 20 starts last year. He had a win, a second and a third. He also had a T4, two T5s and a T6. Thomas posted 13 top-25 finishes and only missed two cuts.

    It will be quite surprising if he doesn't become a prominent player on the PGA Tour this year.

Falling: Victor Dubuisson

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    Victor Dubuisson began and ended his 2014 season well but didn't do much in between.
    Victor Dubuisson began and ended his 2014 season well but didn't do much in between.Matt Dunham/Associated Press/Associated Press

    Official World Golf Ranking: 17

    Aside from his sparkling performance in a marathon loss to Jason Day in the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship and his strong play in the Ryder Cup for Team Europe, Victor Dubuisson didn't show much during his first year on tour. 

    The Match Play was his only top-five finish on tour, and he really didn't make much of an impact.

    It may be a bit harsh to classify him as a faller this early in his career, but Dubuisson might be one of those players who will need to fall before they rise.

Rising: Brooks Koepka

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    Brooks Koepka is one of the game's rising stars.
    Brooks Koepka is one of the game's rising stars.David Goldman/Associated Press

    Official World Golf Ranking: 32

    Brooks Koepka took the road less traveled to get to the PGA Tour. Instead of trying to make it through PGA Tour qualifying, he chose to go to Europe and play on the European Tour's Challenge Tour (its version of the Web.com Tour).

    He won four times on the Challenge circuit to earn membership on the European Tour.

    When he won the Turkish Airlines Open in November, it moved him into the top 35 in the world rankings and got him a spot in the four majors and the World Golf Championships in 2015.

    Koepka is one of the young bombers on the PGA Tour who is ready to make his mark.

Falling: Brandt Snedeker

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    Brandt Snedeker looks like he's lost on the course.
    Brandt Snedeker looks like he's lost on the course.Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Official World Golf Ranking: 61

    At the beginning of the 2013 season, there was no hotter golfer in the world than Brandt Snedeker.

    Three of his first five starts resulted in top-five finishes, and he seemed on his way to a record season.

    Then a recurring rib injury sidelined him for a while, and he's not been the same player since. Last year was dismal for him, and there seems to be no great prospects of a turnaround.

    It's tough to watch a truly nice guy struggle.

Rising: Tiger Woods

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    If he's healthy, Tiger Woods could make a big splash in 2015.
    If he's healthy, Tiger Woods could make a big splash in 2015.Willie J. Allen/Associated Press

    Official World Golf Ranking: 43

    We remember Tiger Woods winning five times in 2013.

    We also remember him hardly playing and playing badly when he did in 2014.

    There were the back issues, the surgery, the rehab and a new swing consultant, Chris Como.

    Woods comes into next week's Waste Management Phoenix Open supposedly healthy and happy with the latest adjustments made to his swing.

    If those things are true, his arrow will be pointed north in 2015.