• John (?) Huh: The “Question Mark” was exactly that before the 2012 season started as he had only played briefly in Southeast Asia before making his way and qualifying at Q School. He left no question about his talent as the season motored on and confirmed our suspicions when he defeated Robert Allenby on the eighth playoff hole at Mayakoba. He made 22 of 28 cuts and had four top-10 finishes. Huh excelled on the greens (34th in total putting) and was 11th in driving accuracy.
• Brandt Snedeker: His season started with a DNS at Kapalua as he healed from hip surgery. I joked after his win at Torrey Pines that he should have surgery every offseason. After the way he closed 2012 as the FedExCup Champion and winning the TOUR Championship, he just might! He finished the FedExCup Playoffs second, sixth, T37 and first. Throw in 10 top 10s in 22 events as well, so if you were on “Opie Taylor” from day one, you should have had an excellent 2012. If you bailed on him because of his surgery, he’s now proven that he knows when he’s ready to come back and you shouldn’t worry!
• Jonas Blixt: With only one top-25 finish in his first nine starts, the rookie from Florida State was flying well under the radar and looked to be struggling. As the season went on the Swede started to heat up as he had his best run of starts in late April into May. He finished T13, T9, T13 and T10 before becoming injured after the Memorial. He missed two-and-a-half months with a rib injury. His return to the TOUR didn’t inspire confidence for fantasy players as he wrapped up the FedExCup season with T55, T46 and T20 as he was eliminated after the Deutsche Bank Championship. After another month on the sideline, Blixt destroyed the Fall Series and ramped up the money list. This didn’t help anyone in season-long leagues but it showed that he has the game for future investment. He was second on TOUR in eagles, 21st in birdie average, third in birdie-or-better percentage on par fours and was fifth on TOUR in birdie-or-better conversion. Why? He was second in stokes-gained putting and first in sand saves. Sure, he’s a bit crooked off the tee and doesn’t kill GIR but with a short game like that, it goes to show there are many ways to be successful on TOUR.
• Jim Furyk: Rebounded from a quiet 2011 ($1.5 million or so) to knock out 14 top 25s in 24 starts in 2012 (north of $3.6 million) without winning. He can only imagine “what if” in 2012 if he could have three or four holes to play over just one time. He finished P2 in a four-man playoff at the Transitions. His drive on No. 16 at the Olympic essentially cost him a chance at his second U.S. Open. He double-bogeyed No. 18 at Firestone on Sunday to lose out to Keegan Bradley at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Those three holes could have been another $3 or $4 million! Yikes! I think Furyk, Mickelson and Stricker are the 40somethings that still obviously have value in season-long or weekly games and all three of them proved that this season.
Guys you would have been glad to have had from day one in 2012. I left off the obvious choices because we all know we’d like to have Rory, Tiger and Phil.
• Jason Dufner: Posted 14 top 25s in 22 events along with eight top 10s. He also broke his duck as he claimed his first two victories on TOUR and there’s no reason to believe that this won’t continue in 2013. His worst finish in the four majors was T31 and his best was T4 at the U.S. Open so he has shown he’s a player on the big stage (see: Ryder Cup). Now that he’s married, we’ll have to be alert for the “Pregnancy Watch!”
• Brendon de Jonge: From a fantasy standpoint, he's a gravy train. He plays tons of events (31, 30, 32 in his last three seasons) so he’s excellent to have in season-long leagues and in weekly leagues in “light” fields where birdies are necessary. “The Mustard Man” finished his last four events of 2012 second, T4, T4 and T19 so he should be ready to go for 2013.
• Keegan Bradley: Some guys win majors and disappear. Some guys win majors and springboard their careers. He finished No. 10 on the money list and had a win, second and third in 25 events. In TWO years on TOUR, he’s won three times and made almost eight million dollars so the phrase “flash in the pan” doesn’t apply here. I like guys with moxie and he showed plenty of that at the Ryder Cup as well.
• Louis Oosthuizen: He, like Furyk, had multiple chances to win in 2012 but just came up a few holes short. It started with a final-round 75 (54-hole leader) at the Shell Houston Open where he finished solo third. He backed that up the following week with a playoff defeat to Bubba Watson at Augusta. He showed real guts flying across the world to Indonesia to win the following week which didn’t even count towards his $3.4 TOUR earnings. If he’s only going to play around 19 events, make sure you remember that he had 12 top 25s in addition to his two seconds and a third.
• Bo Van Pelt: He’s had an amazing 23 top 10s in the last 3 years and has shown no signs of slowing down. The one “fantasy knock” on him is he doesn’t win enough. Winning on TOUR is obviously difficult but it’s the consistency of his play (and results) that keeps me coming back week after week, no matter the size or stature of the event. Gamers couldn’t ask for a better omen to 2013 as he won in his last outing in Perth holding off Jason Dufner.
• Robert Garrigus: A career-high year in earnings without winning was accomplished by a multitude of factors. He came into 2012 in shape and his iron play was just as fit (seventh in GIR). He had four runner-up finishes and doubled his career-high in earnings. He once admitted to smoking some wacky tobacky in a portable toilet at a tournament one time but those days are long gone. He showed me some guts playing consecutive weeks in China (T2, T51) and playing the following week in Disney (T2). If he stays fit, keeps striping irons and maintains his birdie average (fourth on TOUR), there’s no reason he can’t continue this form in 2013.
• Seung-yul Noh: Ah, to be young again. The 21-year old South Korean racked up 24 cuts in 28 events in 2012 and has been working with Sean Foley. Foley had a nice year with Tiger Woods winning three times, Hunter Mahan winning twice and Justin Rose winning once. Noh’s next step will be converting those cuts made into top 10s (only three this year) but when you put yourself in that situation time and time again, he can only get better. I like Noh because he’s not afraid to play a ton of events and he’s a cashing machine. For those of you who read this column regularly, this won’t come as a surprise as he was mentioned quite often in 2012.
• Scott Piercy: In a year of feast or famine, Piercy ate well on his way to a 15th-place finish in the FedExCup playoffs and a career-high money total. He finished No. 17 in the all-around ranking and won for the second-consecutive year on TOUR. In 23 events in 2011, he hit the top 25 five times; this year, in 28 events, he hit 14 times. He finished 2012 with 11 cuts made in his last 12 events so if you were patient, you were rewarded.
• Jason Day: New baby and a new residence in Ohio (a relocation from Texas) full-time is plenty of valid excuse for me for a below-average 2012. He just turned 25 earlier this month and should be settled in and ready to go for next year. His ankle injury leading into the Masters never allowed him to get started but he still ground out top 10s in four events and had eight top 25s in 13 made cuts. He’s super-long and a fantastic putter so I would expect a large bounce-back in 2013.
• Harris English/Bud Cauley: I started pairing them in columns early in 2012 so I figured I’d end the way I started. The young SEC boys showed their mettle and, for a time, there wasn’t much separating them. Every year, “can’t miss” rookies come through the ranks and this year was not any different. Cauley was 21-of-28 with six finishes in the top 10 and 10 in the top 25. English was 22-of-27 with three finishes in the top 10 and 10 top 25s. English also learned a valuable lesson at The Honda Classic where he shot 77 on Sunday after being the 54-hole leader. Both earned their cards quite easily.