5 Golfers Poised To Break out in 2012
We're a lucky generation. It's as simple as that.
We may have witnessed the most dominant golfer that will ever step on a course in Tiger Woods and have had the pleasure of witnessing the greatest wedge player in the history of the game, Phil Mickelson.
But they are in the twilight of their careers now and there is a new breed of talent.
Rory McIlroy blew the doors off at Congressional with a 16-under 268, which set the record for the lowest 72 hole total at the U.S. Open.
Ryo Ishikawa shot 58 in May of 2010 at the final round of the Crowns on the Japanese Tour for a come from behind victory.
Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters in only his third start as a professional golfer.
Are we witnessing the start of three hall of fame careers?
It's still too early to tell.
However, it isn't too early to take a look at a few golfers that are poised to breakout in 2012.
Steele was a surprising winner at the Valero Texas Open, and he struggled for a large portion of the season.
But when he hit the playoffs, we saw the same player as we did at Valero over a span of several tournaments, which to me is very promising.
In his last six tournaments he has played really well in four of them finishing T19 at the PGA, T10 at the Deutsche Bank, T16 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and most recently a T7 at the Frys.com Open.
He ranked 17th on tour in total driving, but his putting needs some work during the offseason before he can get over that next hump to becoming a household name. He ranked 60th in total putting.
I think Lewis has an incredible career ahead of him, and if you were to ask me who on this list would win the most majors, he would be the clear choice.
Lewis won his third professional start. That's pretty special.
He made five birdies over the final seven holes to shut the door on Rafael Cabrera Bello, who was leading the Portugal Masters by four strokes going into the final round.
I'm not able to produce a ton of stats for the Lewis argument due to the fact that he has played in so few professional tournaments, but if he can win in only three starts, I believe that he is on the verge of a multiple win season on the European Tour.
Cauley joins Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard, Gary Hallberg, and Ryan Moore as just the sixth player to earn his tour card without going to Q-school.
That is pretty heady company.
All five of those golfer came onto the tour and enjoyed almost immediate success.
Will Cauley continue the trend?
Naturally he will.
He has five Top 25 finishes in eight events and two Top Fives at the Frys.com and the Viking Classic.
He isn't one of the longest players on tour, but the fact that he is 5'7" and around 160 pounds makes his 292.4 yard driving average at the McGladrey Classic impressive.
Cauley still has a lot of maturing to do, but I believe that we will see one or two wins in 2012, which would be a nice kick-start to a career filled to the brim with potential.
First off, let me say that I don't buy into the hype surrounding Fowler. I don't see him winning five or six majors in his career like some people do.
That being said, I do believe that he has the talent to win a few tournaments in 2012.
He ranked sixth on tour in birdie average with one coming nearly every four holes, and he ranked ninth on tour in bounce back.
The bounce back stat impresses me the most.
A lot of times when you see a young golfer make a few bogeys it can unravel his round and maybe even his tournament (see Rory McIlory at the Masters and The Grand Slam of Golf).
Fowler almost never let a bogey get to him and made a birdie or better on the following hole 25 percent of the time.
Another thing I believe crucial to Folwer's success was winning his first tournament.
He was able to win the Korea Open, which featured a pretty strong field (he beat Rory McIlroy by six shots), and he came extremely close to winning the Bridgestone Invitational.
Fowler wasn't a factor at Augusta this year, but don't be surprised to see him contend at the Masters in 2012. He can get a hot putter (just ask Edoardo Molinari), and we all know what that can do for you at the Masters.
Woodland nearly started off 2011 with a win at the Humana Challenge, and then won the Transitions Championship not too long after that.
He had six Top 10 finishes and closed out the FedEx Cup at 17th in the standings.
That's a pretty solid season, right? It is, but I think Woodland just scratched the surface in 2011.
I had the pleasure of watching him play at the Wells Fargo in Charlotte earlier in the year and I noticed a couple of things in his game that I really liked.
First of all, he is LONG (he had a 409-yard bomb at the Byron Nelson to prove it).
But while every other golfer hit either driver or 3-wood off of the first tee that day, Woodland walked up with a three iron. The next thing I knew my mouth was agape from witnessing a 280-yard shot.
But more importantly I noticed how his distance set up the rest of his game.
Although he didn't find the fairway too often that day (a stat that he backed up throughout the season finishing 136th on tour in driving accuracy) it didn't matter. He hit nearly every green in regulation, finishing 11th on tour in GIR for the season.
Don't be surprised if he walks away with a win at Disney this week either.
I don't think it would be out of the realm of possibility to see three or four wins from Woodland in 2012. He has made 12 consecutive cuts, tied for fourth at the Greenbrier and finished in the top 25 in five straight tournaments.