10 Breakout Golfers of 2013
Which Golfers Can Breakout in 2013?
The great thing about the beginning of every golf season is that any player can have a good year and some can have great years by winning a major. After a brief break the US Tour reconvenes with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Every player is level in the money list and FedEx Cup rank.
Tiger Woods has been the dominant player in world golf since 1996. His form has dipped somewhat since winning the US Open in 2008 but he still played well enough last season to reach a season high of number two in the world rankings.
Woods’s breakout year was 1996. He was allowed to play in seven tournaments and won twice. He earned his playing privileges for the following year during which he won his first major, the US Masters. Woods is still a potential contender in majors but other players have emerged to challenge his status as the best player in the world.
Rory McIlroy’s breakout year was 2011. He won the US Open by eight shots and reached a then career high of number four in the world rankings. He has since won another major to become the youngest multiple major champion since Severiano Ballesteros in 1980 and the sixth youngest of all time.
Woods and McIlroy will be winning tournaments in 2013 but several other players will be having breakout years and we list the potential contenders here. These players have been identified as having the potential to win regular tournaments and major championship.
#10 Jonas Blixt
Jonas Blixt emerged as a potential new talent during the Fall Series of the US Tour. He finished third in one post season event and backed that up by winning the following week. The key to Blixt’s game is his putting and this skill was put to good use over the closing holes of the Frys.com. He holed several clutch putts down the stretch including on the final green when he secured his first won on the Main Tour. Blixt finished the year at a career high of 76 on the world rankings and his excellent putting can see him make the top 50 by the end of 2013.
#9 Bud Cauley
Bud Cauley ended 2012 at a career high of 67 in the world rankings having ended 2011 at 249 in the standings. Few other players made such a significant move and further progress is expected this season. In 2011 Cauley won enough money from sponsor’s exemptions to earn his playing privileges for the following season. He avoided Q School and went directly to the PGA Tour. Only six other players managed this achievement, including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Cauley had five top 10s during his first full year on Tour and can take his game to the next level by winning a tournament during 2013.
#8 Matteo Manassero
Matteo Manassero has won three tournaments on the European Tour and he is still a teenager. A perceived weakness is length of the tee and it is fair to say he is below average for this skill. That deficiency is more than offset by outstanding iron play and a great short game. The freedom of youth means he is a fearless putter and his three wins have been based on competence on the greens. He finished 21st for putts per round on the European Tour last season. He will be looking to improve his world ranking in 2013 and qualify for the majors and World Golf Championship events.
#7 Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler was identified as a future tour winner when he qualified to play on the US PGA Tour aged just 20. He is known for wearing bright orange outfits but in 2012 some substance was added to the style. He won his first tournament at the Wells Fargo Championship in May, beating Rory McIlroy and DA Points in a play-off. Fowler adapted well to the poor weather at the 2011 British Open at Sandwich in July and looks a future Open champion. He was overlooked for last season’s Ryder Cup but he is likely to qualify by rights for the next renewal.
#6 Nicolas Colsaerts
Nicolas Colsaerts has made great strides up the world rankings in the last three years. From a position outside the top 1000 in the standings he ended 2013 at 35 in the world points list. A potentially damaging party lifestyle was replaced by discipline and practice and Colsaerts received the rewards from his hard work. He was one of Jose Maria Olazabal’s wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup and justified his inclusion. Colsaerts has won twice on the European Tour and also twice on the feeder Tour. He has only played in two major championships and in one of those he finished 7th in 2012 British Open.
#5 Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter ended the 2012 season at a career high of number 12 in the rankings but 2013 could be a breakout year for the English player in terms of competing in the major championships. Poulter was one of the key individuals at the Ryder Cup. He claimed a crucial point on the Saturday afternoon and then delivered the point he promised by beating Webb Simpson in the singles. Poulter has played in 38 major championships and recorded six top 10 finishes. He is playing confidently enough to enhance that record and is good enough to win at least one.
#4 Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson is a proven winner on the US Tour but this is a season that could see him breakout and challenge Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods for the money list honours. Johnson was injured between March and June of last season but won a tournament not long after returning to competitive play. He has a valuable combination of length of the tee and great putting. His power and finesse means he is rarely unsuited to any host course. In 16 major championship appearances he has recorded 6 top ten finishes. That is an excellent strike rate and reflects Johnson’s ability to be competitive at the highest level.
#3 Branden Grace
Branden Grace won four times o the European Tour last season and no player was more prolific in world golf. He had only earned his card through the qualifying school but proved he can get to the top of the game. The four wins came on different types of courses in different weather conditions. Grace clearly has a game with few weaknesses and the mentality to maintain his form whatever the prevailing weather conditions. He is seen by many as the next potential major champion from South Africa and if he does win a major would be emulating illustrious compatriots such as Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els.
#2 Jason Dufner
Jason Dufner won two tournaments in 2012 so in theory that could have been his breakout season. However, Dufner has the ability and temperament to take his game to the next level by making an impact in the major championships. He was beaten by Keegan Bradley in a play-off for the US PGA Championship in 2011 so he is proven at the highest level. He has only contested 14 major championships in total and recorded three top five finishes in those appearances. He made the cut in all four majors last season and looks set to contend at least one during 2013.
#1 Jason Day
Jason Day finished second in two major championships in 2011 and could contend at the highest level again during 2013. His form dipped somewhat last season, due to injury and distractions away from the course when he became a father for the first time. He looked back to his best during the Fall Series and a continuation of that level of form can see him win at least one regular tournament and contend in a major. The Australian born Day now resides in the States so relocating his family suggests he has the focus to be successful at the highest level and that means winning majors.