For the past 3 years, http://www.pgatour.com/ has done a Top 100 players to watch feature in December. It's a ranking, sort of, and also a listing of players who will garner the most attention in 2011. To me these are 2 very different things, and as I get ready to post my own 2011 predictions I thought I would do a quick review of the PGA Tour's list of their top 20, just to see how annoyed I get.
2. Lee Westwood...it seems Westwood's Tweeting (Twittering?) gets more attention these days, but the #1 player in the world does deserve some hype...problem is, since he's not playing a full schedule in the US, I'm not sure the US tour is going to be focusing on him much at all, at least not until the Majors.
3. Phil Mickelson...I'm a Phil fan, so I'm hopeful he's going to take the reins and make a run for #1. I'm not sure if all of the distractions are behind him, but if he really wants it, I think it can be his for the taking. A very deserving #3 ranking.
4. Jim Furyk...was it just me, or was Furyk basically off the radar the whole season until he overslept, and then went on to win the FedEx Cup? Yes, I know he won earlier, but I didn't feel much of any buzz about him all of 2010...and I'm not sure he's all that buzz worthy in 2011 either...oh, go ahead, Jim, prove me wrong!
5. Graeme McDowell...now here's a guy that I'm thinking has "#1 guy to watch" written on his forehead. He's definitely got the game, but he also has the personality that makes people gravitate towards him. I think 5 is too low for a guy that showed us so much last year.
6. Rory McIlory...I like him...a lot. He's got a daringness on the golf course that makes people pay attention, and he seems to really like being out there. I'm not sure how much buzz we'll see outside of the majors and a few other key events, but he's definitely a young gun that will be in the press every time he tees it up.
7. Dustin Johnson...I'm a sucker for the sad story, and DJ's collapses in '10 made me want to give that guy a hug. But with his serious length and streaky putting, I think he's going to post more than 1 W this year...and I'd definitely put him ahead of Furyk.
8. Rickie Fowler...he's a guy you can't miss on the course, and I think people feel a connection with him due to his social media savvy. He deserves recognition for his accomplishments in '10, but until he posts a win, I think he'll be known as the human traffic cone.
9. Steve Stricker... (head vs. heart, head vs. heart)...sorry, needed a minute to be reminded that my favorite player can be happy to be in the Top 10...Mr. #1 in My Heart came off another fantastic season and doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing down. Arguably the best US player without a Major, I've got to think Stricker would like to knock that off his bucket list this year...and I think we might see some inspired golf (as long as he is injury free) leading up to the Majors. It's time for a win! (I'd put him higher than Furyk, too)
10. Martin Kaymer...when asked to name the 4 Major winners last year, did you remember Kaymer? I didn't at first...not new to golf, but new to the US audience, Kaymer has some serious game and a drive to win. Just wondering how much exposure (or lack of) will make him a factor this year in the race to be the best.
11. Louis Oosthuizen...another unknown player to me before the British win, Oosthuizen was a refreshing winner. A freak accident while hunting hampered his playing for about 2 months this fall, but I think he'll gain some US fans if he decides to play the Tour regularly...but #10 guy to watch? Sorry, not buying it.
12. Ernie Els...It was great to see Els have a great 2010 and chalk up 2 wins and was voted into the world golf hall of fame! He's also decided to park it in the US and play most of his events here...I'm guessing he's going to be a regular on my Fantasy Teams!
13. Paul Casey...I'm thinking Casey is currently being remembered for not making the Ryder Cup team more than anything else he did in 2010...but he did have a mathematical chance to win the FedEx cup even though he had no wins on Tour in '10. I think we might see a win...or 2, out of him this year.
14. Matt Kuchar...14? 14!!!! Are you kidding me? The number one player on the 2010 money list is ranked 14th going into 2011? I hope that Kuch wins the Hyundai event this week just to show the Tour writers what morons they are...Matt deserves top 5 status at least, and I think you might see him play just as well or better than last year. Go get ‘em, Matt!!
15. Jeff Overton...loved him at the Ryder Cup, and I really hope he can channel the ability to be a closer on Sunday and post some wins. He was a Fantasy Golf disappointment last year, but I'm not giving up on him.
16. Luke Donald...Donald quietly goes about his business, racks up a bunch of Top 10's almost wins twice, and almost takes the FedEx Cup. He seems primed for a win or 2 this year and deserves to be in the Top 10...or maybe 11.
17. Anthony Kim...everyone seems to be on the AK bandwagon, but even with his win last year I just don't know if he's back yet...I hope so, though - he's dynamic, emotional, and fun to watch.
18. Hunter Mahan...I think of him as Feast or Famine guy last year...he had some shining moments, but then also struggled part of the season. I like him in the Ping commercials and I hope we'll see his name on top of the leader board more this year.
19. Ian Poulter...man, he is one of those guys you're not sure if you should admit you like or not...he brings conversation to the game and has proven to be a fierce competitor. Some are predicting a Major for him this year...I'm not there, but I do think he'll be making waves in '11.
20. Camilo Villegas...to me, here's another guy who is hot and cold - and if he would just tell me when he's going to be hot, I'd do A LOT better in fantasy golf! He's deserving of Top 20 status and I think he's going to have a great year.
Players that didn't make their top 20 that would definitely make MY top 20 include: Bubba Watson (23) - he's a top 15 or better for me!; Jason Day (24) - I think this might be a breakthrough year!; Adam Scott (31) - I've got a feeling about this Aussie...we may be seeing some inspired golf this year!; and Retief Goosen (33) Watch out, the Goose will be back this year!
Well, there you have it! My take on the PGA Tour's take on the players to watch in 2011...but no matter who is ranking where, there's nothing better than seeing your favorite players walking the fairways again...enjoy the new golf season. I'll be dreaming about Hawaii in freezing Minnesota.
Filed under: PGA Tour, Cathy Erickson, ranking, 2011