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Golf

Power Rankings: Top 5 Golfers for 2013

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2013 Golf Power Rankings: Top 5

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Brian Spurlock-USPRESSWIRE

With the regular season in Europe being completed at the end of November there is only a four week gap before the start of the 2013 PGA Tour schedule. The season begins with winners of tournaments in 2012 competing in a limited field event that caries a lucrative prize fund.

The European Tour reconvenes strangely in December with two events in South Africa counting towards next season’s Race to Dubai. However, the first event on mainland Europe takes place in May.

The most significant events of the year are the four majors and our five players to follow will be leading contenders in these events. The very best player’s careers are defined by how many majors they win and only Rory McIlroy of our five players has already won one of the four most prestigious events of the year.

The first major is the US Masters in April, an event always played at Augusta. McIlroy led by four shots after three rounds in 2011 but eventually finished 15th and Jason Day was second in the same year. Lee Westwood was tied third in 2012.

The US Open takes place at Merion Golf Club in June. McIlroy was the champion in 2011 and Westwood was tenth in 2012. His chances were badly affected by a bizarre incident in which he lost his ball up a tree at the start of the final round. Jason Day was second in 2011.

Muirfield hosts the British Open for the first time since 2002 when Ernie Els won the first of his Opens. Westwood is the only one of our five to follow who played in that Open but he missed the cut. Rickie Fowler coped well with the poor playing conditions at Sandwich in 2011 and looks a future Open Champion.

The final major of the season and “the last shot at glory” takes place at Oak Hill in August. Jason Dufner lost in a play-off to Keegan Bradley in 2011, McIlroy is the defending champion after he won the championship by eight shorts in 2011

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#5 Rickie Fowler

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Brian Spurlock-USPRESSWIRE

Rickie Fowler is known for wearing bright orange outfits but during 2012 he added some substance to his style. Fowler is similar in appearance to Rory McIlroy and great things were expected of both players when they were still teenagers. While McIlroy was wining money lists and majors Fowler was striving for his first PGA Tour win. That duly arrived at the Wells Fargo Championship which ironically he won after a play-off that included McIlroy. Fowler looked a future British Open winner when he handled the poor weather at Sandwich in 2011 better than most. Fowler has played in just 11 majors and his fifth place finish at Sandwich is his only top 10. However, he has the ability to enhance that record over the next few years.

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#4 Jason Dufner

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Jim Cowsert-USPRESSWIRE

Jason Dufner was the best player on Tour in a six week spell during the spring. He won two tournaments and was second in another during a run in which he showed his full potential. Dufner had been a regular on the Nationwide Tour at the start of his professional career. When he qualified for the PGA Tour in 2009 he had several top 10 finishes but never looked like winning a tournament. He lost in a play-off for the PGA Championship to Keegan Bradley in 2011 and that effort gave him the confidence to take his career to the next level. A good effort in the US Open and top scoring for the United States at the Ryder Cup suggests Dufner can continue his career development by winning a major over the next three years.

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#3 Jason Day

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Greg M Cooper-USPRESSWIRE

Jason Day has won just one PGA Tour titles but he reached the top 10 in the world rankings in 2011. He was second in two major championships and proved that he can compete at the highest level. His form has dipped somewhat since then and he has seen the birth of his first child. After such a great year some reaction was inevitable for a player who was contesting majors at aged just 25. Day showed signs of a return to his best form during the FedEx Cup play-off events. At the end of the regular 2012 seasons in Europe and the States Day had climbed back to 35th in the world rankings. Given an injury free year Day can continue that process and also contend in the majors again.

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#2 Lee Westwood

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Kyle Terada-USPRESSWIRE

Lee Westwood has made some changes to his living arrangements and team on the course to give himself the best opportunity to win that elusive first major. His home in England is a Midlands town called Worksop which has the usual poor British winter climate. He has moved his family to America so that he can practice all year round and compete regularly on the US Tour. He has also sacked his long term caddie and close friend Billy Foster. The bagman is currently injured and could not give Westwood any reassurances as to when he would be fit to return. Westwood has hired a replacement who will be available from the start of the season in January.

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#1 Rory McIlroy

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Brian Spurlock-USPRESSWIRE

Rory McIlroy was the player of 2012 and he looks likely to stay at the pinnacle of the game for the next decade and beyond. He is destined to win each of the major championships at least once in his career. He is already half-way to the career Slam and still only 23. He led the US Masters by four shots after 54 holes in 2011 only to play poorly over the back nine in the fourth round to waste a decent opportunity to win a Green Jacket. He will have to adapt his game to win the Open Championship but must realise that he has to win at least one Open to be classed amongst the greats.