Since the Mayans were wrong, it appears the 2013 US PGA Tour season will actually happen. There are plenty of big names set to make some noise in the upcoming season, so we've picked our 10 guys we think will have huge impacts next season and preview them here. We start with those players we have ranked from six to 10.
6. Adam Scott
Career US PGA Tour wins: 8
Career Major wins: 0
What he did in 2012: A really strange year for the Aussie, who didn't have a US PGA Tour win but had a serious run in the middle of his season that looked like it might remake his career. Scott finished third at the AT&T National event only to follow that up with an incredible performance for three days at The Open, where he entered the final round with a four shot lead that looked like he'd sleepwalk to his first Major title. Problem was, Scott fell apart, making four bogeys over his final four holes to lose by a shot to Ernie Els. Scott was still able to finish T-11 at the US PGA Championship and card two top-seven finishes in the four FedEx Cup play-off events.
Why we like him in 2013: Because it has always seemed that Scott is the type of player that should contend in Majors consistently, and I see The Open stumble to be almost like Rory McIlroy at the 2011 Masters. Sure, Scott is much older than McIlroy was at Augusta National, but he was there with a chance to win down the stretch and let it get away. Scott's mindset seems to be the type that can take a moment like the one at Lytham and build on it, and I see him doing that this next season. Something about the combination of the long putter and Steve Williams has rejuvenated Scott, and while I would love to see him be more consistent over an entire season, I think he will be a winner on the US PGA Tour a couple of times in '13 and really push for a first Major title.
7. Rickie Fowler
Career US PGA Tour wins: 1
Career Major wins: 0
What he did in 2012: First off, let's discuss the high points of Rickie Fowler's 2012 season, like the win at the Wells Fargo Championship — his first US PGA Tour victory — where he stuffed a wedge to four feet on the first play-off hole to beat Rory McIlroy and D.A. Point. There's also the 6 top-15 finishes in his first 16 starts prior to the US Open — including a stretch that saw him post three straight top-5 finishes.
If you stop right there, Fowler's season would be considered a huge success. However, once you take a look at the second half of his season, the win and the torrid start loses its lustre. From the US Open to the end of the year, Fowler never posted a top-10 and only finished inside the top-25 on two occasions.
Not only that, he went from a Ryder Cup lock early in the season, to the bubble, to off the team in the span of three months. For a season that started with so much promise, Fowler's 2012 was actually a bit of a disappointment. Even with the rough finish, the Wells Fargo win certainly justified his place on the list of rising twentysomethings on the US PGA Tour.
Why we like him in 2013: Fowler has a truckload of talent and a swing that's capable of winning tournaments in bunches, but up this point, the 24-year-old has been wildly unpredictable. Just when you think he's ready to explode — see the stretch last season where he followed up his first win with T-2 and T-5 finishes in his next two starts — his game suddenly disappears.
So why do we like Fowler to have a big season? For one, there's the chance to prove the naysayers wrong. Plenty of people questioned whether the pressure of making the Ryder Cup got to Fowler last in the season. Whether he wants to admit it or not, there will likely be some added motivation to start hot and secure a place on the Presidents Cup squad.
Fowler has proven the naysayers wrong before, and even with the questions surrounding his back — which was an issue late in the year — you have to like the kid's chances. I'm not sure he's ready to win a Major just yet, but another US PGA Tour win is something that should be at the top of his 2013 to-do list.
8. Jason Dufner
Career US PGA Tour wins: 2
Career Major wins: 0
What he did in 2012: First off, he actually played the game in 2012, which is an accomplishment considering his heartbreak in the last Major of 2011 (leading the US PGA Championship by five strokes with three holes remaining, he lost to Keegan Bradley). But Dufner settled himself and proved his mettle by starting the year strong, even holding a tie for the lead in Augusta on Friday. He won his first US PGA Tour event at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, defeating Ernie Els. (Sure, the Big Easy missed a six-footer to win, but Els would have more success later in the year.)
Soon afterward, Dufner won the HP Byron Nelson Championship when he sank a 25-foot birdie putt for the victory. Strong tournament performances throughout the rest of the year put him as high as 8th in the Official World Golf Rankings; he's currently 9th. And his solid 3-1 play in his Ryder Cup debut helped keep it close for the United States, at least.
Why we like him in 2013: Dufner looks like the kid who runs the cart barn and cleans your clubs with a dirty towel, but he plays better than almost anyone else on Earth. And his low-key personality is exactly what's needed to shrug off golf's constant, debilitating defeats. His putting remains his Major weakness, but if he can steady himself on a consistent basis on the greens, he's going to be tough to beat.
On the big stage, Dufner's starting to come through. In addition to his strong early Augusta performance and his Ryder play, he finished T4 at the US Open. Those, combined with the victories he's starting to amass, are the foundations for a run at the top of the biggest leaderboards in golf.
9. Brandt Snedeker
Career US PGA Tour wins: 4
Career Major wins: 0
What he did in 2012: Won $11.4 million for four days of golf in September. That's what you call a good year. Snedeker, a thirtysomething with two US PGA Tour wins coming into the season, hit the proverbial jackpot by winning the Tour Championship and the FedExCup with three birdies over his final six holes to cash the biggest paycheque of his career.
The win defined Snedeker's season, but what many forget is that he also won earlier in the year at the Farmers Insurance Open to jumpstart the magical run. Snedeker also made his first Ryder Cup appearance and wielded the hottest putter for much of the year (he finished 1st on the US PGA Tour in strokes gained-putting). To say his season was a rousing success would be the understatement of the year.
Why we like him in 2013: Repeating 2012 will be nearly impossible — especially when you consider the FedExCup champion from the previous year has never made it back to the Tour Championship in the past six years. But even with the odds stacked against him, I still like Snedeker to have another big season and maybe, just maybe, win a Major championship.
At this point in his career he's won more money than he'll ever know what to do with, so it's time to start concentrating on building a lasting legacy. Snedeker came oh-so-close last year at the Open Championship before succumbing to the pressure on Sunday afternoon. While it's difficult to peg a guy for greatness these days because there are so many guys in the hunt each and every week on the US PGA Tour, Snedeker was numero uno in putting last season and I don't think the flatstick is going to disappear.
Assuming he can start hot in the months leading up to the Masters, he could contend for a green jacket. And even if he fails to capture a Major this year, I still expect Snedeker to pick up at least one US PGA Tour win in 2013.
10. Bud Cauley
Career US PGA Tour wins: 0
Career Major wins: 0
What he did in 2012: In Cauley's rookie campaign a season ago he was impressive, making 21 of 28 cuts to earn nearly $2 million dollars and land a spot on tour in '13. His best finish came at the Wyndham where he shot all four rounds in the 60s en route to a third place finish. All in all Cauley had 10 top-25 finishes and six top-10s.
Why we like him in 2013: The way Cauley finished his season last year sure made it seem like he was ready to breakthrough. In his last nine starts, Cauley missed just one cut, had three top-four finishes and seemed poised to be in contention even when he wasn't hitting it his best. If Cauley can improve his driving (75th in distance and 108th in accuracy) this year, things could start happening for the second year man, and I think he is the type of young American that could win a couple of times in 2013, a rare feat with the levelled playing field that is now the US PGA Tour.
The expectations are high for Cauley, but I think he will live up to them, and beyond them, this year.