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Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013's Crystal Ball

With golf's preseason almost officially over, I'll take a minute to gaze into my crystal ball for 2013. As reviewed earlier in December, a good many of our predictions for 2012 came to fruition, so we'll see if we can hit on a few more this time around.

In no particular order:
  • I like the firepower of this year's rookie class. Luke Guthrie, Russell Henley, Luke List and Morgan Hoffmann all look like long-time TOUR regulars in the making. Q School has given us several more wet-behind-the-ears college stars in Scott Langley and Derek Ernst, as well as Mr. Monday Qualifier from 2012 Patrick Reed. This feels like a class with a Hunter Mahan or Keegan Bradley in it, as well as some guys that will be staples on TOUR. They will have to learn quickly in a short season with starts precious. Two of these guys will win in 2013.....the most likely are Guthrie and Henley.
  • We saw the beginning of the end of some American stalwarts over the past 12 months, we may just not fully realize it yet. Steve Stricker is expected to play in only a handful of events in 2013, leading me to wonder if he isn't nursing injuries and trying to avoid aggravation and surgery. Phil Mickelson only won once in 2012, and barely earned an automatic spot on the Ryder Cup team. Jim Furyk contended four times, but had several highly-publicized late collapses including a disappointing Ryder Cup. Expect things to continue to deteriorate across the board for this group, with Mickelson only occasionally peeking his head into contention.
  • Expect some veterans with longstanding ties to the belly putter to play a few weaker events they wouldn't normally just to experiment with a different putting style. Especially once they lock up a 2013-2014 card. Those experimental starts for them will hurt some Q School and Web.com Tour grads pining for starts.
  • Expect some veterans to end up in precarious spots due to the lack of a fall series. I'm throwing a name out of a hat here, but a guy like Chad Campbell that took a step back in 2012 could find himself out of a 2013-2014 card with no safety net of the Fall Series. It's a bad year for a guy like Jonathan Byrd to start off on the shelf with an injury. I realize that he would have some medical starts, but no player wants to turn the page on a season with that lingering.
Not so much a prediction, but I want to see how certain players respond in 2013.
  • Is Rickie Fowler really a star? I think so, but I'm not sold. Is he really any better than Bud Cauley? Ryan Moore? If you take away the funny hat, his resume is similar to Moore and Cauley is trending in line with him.
  • How will Hunter Mahan bounce back from missing out on the Ryder Cup? I expect well, but he's still got to go out there and do it.
  • Is Dustin Johnson ready to answer the bell and knock off three wins and a major? Will Keegan continue his rise to elite status?
  • Is Webb Simpson capable of being a force all the time?
  • Have guys like Kyle Stanley and Bill Haas, who disappeared after West Coast wins early in the year returned to form?
  • Are Lucas Glover and Steve Marino back and better than ever?
  • Will Jeff Overton, Brian Davis or Brendon de Jonge ever win?
  • How will the influx of European players play out in America?
  • Is this new Web.com Tour system to the PGA TOUR going to work well? Will we miss Q School as much as I think we will?
I'll dive into the Hyundai Tournament of Champions starting tomorrow with a preview on the event, and follow with a power ranking and some different advice on games in the days leading up to the start. Keep in mind, the event starts on Friday and ends Monday.

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