And annoyingly, much like sex (at least according to Mrs. Theback), there is always someone who does it better. It is to this end that we start another season looking at those who are going to make what we mere mortals make look so difficult, look so easy. Who amongst these Men of Men will stand above all of us with a mocking smile come the end of the season – knowing they have triumphed not only over fellow professionals, wind, rain, sun, stupid Americans shouting ‘potato’ or ‘get in the hole’ when you’re 700 yards from the green BUT that they have conquered Mistress Golf – if only for a fleeting moment??
Well – let’s take a look at the 2013 Golfers to Watch!
1 – Rory McIlroy
Let’s start with the obvious. Even if they’ve never heard of Golf, most people have heard of Rory. He of the great hair, lovely missus and even lovelier swing(!) sits atop most people’s list of ‘most likely to have a great 2013’. Winner of 2 majors, 1 PGA and 1 US Open, and near winner of The Masters – until his ass fell out on the 10th Tee of Day 4, Rory has pretty much all the weapons to continue where he left off in 2012 – a 23 under mauling of the World Tour Championship and World Number 1. Drives long and usually accurately, a great iron player with his only ‘weakness’ being his short game and putting. Weakness here is relative. I predict Rory to have a stellar year. I think he’ll finally put nightmares of Augusta to bed and win The Masters this year and he’s more than capable of winning any of the other Majors too. Throw in a few other tournaments for good measure, possibly starting with this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Golf Club, and Rory will be ‘the man’ once again.
One small mention is that new multi million dollar deal with Nike. Will the new equipment hold him back? Only time will tell, but we can’t see it happening.
2 – Keegan Bradley
Man, this bloke is hard to watch. His many ‘foibles’ make you want to either shout at him, hug him or put him in a strait jacket just to stop his twitches. BUT it works. 5 Top 10s and 1 win in 2012 moved him to 15th in the world. As with most golfers, he prefers certain types of tracks but when he’s ‘on’, he’s ON!! Judging by stats, the perfect course for Keegan would not have any Par 4s – last year he was -119 for Par 3s and 5s. Anything could happen week to week but I feel he’s just going to keep getting better – not sure he’s got a Major in him this year but anything is possible.
3 – Jason Dufner
Someone phone Walt Disney because the 7 dwarves must be missing ‘Grumpy’. Now, obviously, I don’t know the man personally but if there’s a more dour looking sportsman out there I’ve yet to see it – and, yes, I include Andy Murray in that. Ranked 8th in the world in 2012, he had 2 wins and 8 Top 10s in 2012 – but you’d never know it. There were rumours his lip did curl into a smile at one point during the Ryder Cup but Europe soon put paid to that and I still think it was probably indigestion. However, when it comes to golf, Dufner has, nearly, got it all. High up in many of the stats, putting is usually his Achilles heel. He must surely know this and worked on putting (no pun intended) it right. If he has, he could win a lot this year. If he does, you’ll never know by looking at him.
4 – Scott Piercy
No hugely logical reason behind this one – just a gut feeling. 4 top 10s in 2012 and 1 win, he ended 2012 on a positive note in the WGC finishing 2nd. He has a nasty habit of playing brilliantly for 2 or 3 rounds then having one absolute stinker of a round – as witnessed in Sony Open in Hawaii last week where he shot 64-64-72-68. Now admittedly 72 is not a ‘stinker’ but was enough for him to fall off the pace. His driving can be wayward but he can scramble like a good un. I’ve seen him play a few times and I expect big things this year. Not sure he’ll win a Major but he should notch up a few others.
Apart from those, there’s the usual culprits. Schwartzel is always worth a follow as is Dustin Johnson (who’s already notched up a win). I know Joe also fancies Martin Kaymer to have a great season, getting back to his best and cementing a place in the top 5.
UK wise we’ve got Lee Westwood as always. I think his move to US Tour will prove extremely beneficial and he could finally land a ‘Big One’. But don’t count on it. Ian Poulter – great player, as witnessed in Ryder Cup, but never sure what he’s going to do. Paul Casey has been out injured but is on the way to back to full recovery, and once he shakes off rustiness and cobwebs, he can be in the mix most weeks. Justin Rose often goes under the radar but he’s another one who just keeps improving and could win at any point, though can blow a good lead.
Yes we may have forgotten one, a certain Eldrick Woods. Tiger showed glimpses in 2012 but certainly didn’t have the consistency of old. Someone of his seeming diligence will have probably worked hard to iron out faults in any new swing changes and if he has, Tiger has already won in the first month of 2013, and he will win no doubt win something big at some point in 2013. Probably more than once. I have a sneaky feeling Tiger is going to enjoy the competition with new Nike stablemate, Rory, more than McIlroy and this could lead him to ‘up’ his game again – if he does, look out! I’m going to predict that Tiger will win a Major this year but will probably have a better 2014 than 2013 – injuries willing.
So who will ‘conquer’ 2013 – there’s lots of talent on show nowadays but come the end of the year, ‘there can be only one’! Who do you think it’ll be?
Afternote – I can’t talk confidently about the female game but at the very least keep an eye on Paula Creamer, our very own Sophie Horn and Belen Mozo. They all play great golf and are extremely easy on the eye!
There we have it, a start of a debate no doubt on the 2013 Golfers to Watch (year not numbers!). What do you think?