Which Young PGA Player Will Have a Breakout Year in 2013?

By Les Bailey
Jason Dufner
Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE

With Tiger Woods appearing to be back on track with his game, and Rory McIlroy becoming the world’s number one player, I am wondering which of the younger players on the PGA Tour are due to break out, and start to play “Big Boy” golf. I know that I am excited about the potential head-to-head matchups between Woods and McIlroy, but I think 2013 will see the emergence of one or two of our young players to the world stage.

Bubba Watson, and Webb Simpson broke through for their first majors this year, and Keegan Bradley  last year at the PGA Championship, but are they ready to win that second title, and put some pressure on McIlroy? I think you might be un-fair to them, to put the pressure of 14 titles in front of them, but hey…McIlroy only has two at this point. A second win is more realistic, and once upon a time, Tiger got his second on his way to 14.

Bradley played well in the 2012 PGA Championship, but no one was going to beat McIlroy in that tournament. Keegs finished in a tie for third place, with Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, and Carl Pettersson. Bradley hung in there and did battle with the Europeans, only one stroke back of second place David Lynn who was a ridiculous eight strokes off of the pace.

Jason Dufner has come close a couple of times, and Dustin Johnson as well. Dustin let two get away in 2010, the US Open where he blew up in the final round only to give the title to Graeme McDowell. Then there was the infamous, obliterated sand trap at the PGA where he lost to Martin Kaymer.

The other youngsters in need of a breakout year are Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney, and Brandt Snedeker. Other than a mini run for Fowler that followed his first tour victory at the Well Fargo Championship, his season was very mediocre. I think Fowler is a couple of years away from being able to compete on the world stage.

Watney had a horrible year, and his psychic took a hit when after wining at The Barclays during the FedEx Cup playoffs, he wasn’t selected for the Ryder Cup. I was pulling for him, and thought he deserved a shot over Furyk, but then again, I didn’t make the selections. Watney needs to get hot early, and show us what he’s made of. If he doesn’t emerge in 2013, I don’t feel like he ever will.

Snedeker on the other hand, is ready. He played very well down the stretch, winning the FedEx Cup, and picked up a win at the Farmers Insurance Open in January at Torrey Pines, but didn’t do much the remainder of the year. He picked up a tie for third place at the Open Championship, but missed the cut at Kiawah Island. I also feel like he needs to do it next year, or it will become more and more difficult as the game moves to more of a global game. There are too many good young European players coming to the PGA.

I am looking for Jason Dufner and Bradley to step up in 2013. Both have been playing some of the world events, and Keegan seems to have the personality to ascend to the world stage. What Dufner lacks in presumed enthusiasm, he has made up for between the ropes. All he needs now is one of those major trophies for his fireplace, and he will be on his way.


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