Looking ahead to the start of 2013, I can’t help but be blown away by the depth of the PGA TOUR. That’s attributed to a combination of things including more European players taking up status in the United States and strong classes coming both off the Web.com Tour and out of Q School’s final class.
Something we will visit periodically is how the list of players who will finish inside the top 125 of the FedExCup is taking shape, and who we like to be fully exempt for the 2013-2014 season via their performance in 2013.
Taken into account in this initial list are as many factors for which I can account including expected schedules and the known injuries. For example, we don’t expect Jonathan Byrd to play until the Florida Swing due to wrist surgery late in 2012, so he has already been bumped down as a result.
Here’s who I like as the eventual top 125 for 2013.
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1. Rory McIlroy The only question surrounding him in the top spot is the equipment change to Nike. Talent should prevail.
2. Tiger Woods Should be another three-win season where he seriously contends in a couple of majors.
3. Justin Rose Since TOUR Championship runner-up, he's been in the top six in three of his last five events.
4. Luke Donald Finished in the top three in four of his last five worldwide starts including a win at the Dunlop Phoenix.
5. Louis Oosthuizen Hasn't finished worse than sixth in his last six starts across the globe, save a WD from the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
6. Dustin Johnson Should play a full season and he's won every year on TOUR. Had two top fives on West Coast Swing in 2012.
7. Keegan Bradley He will play like a man with something to prove with this putter controversy going on.
8. Brandt Snedeker Statistically the best putter in the world. Could be another top-10 season in the money.
9. Jason Dufner It's a tough ask for him to back up a life-changing 2012.
10. Bubba Watson A confident player, and dangerous when he can control his emotions.
11. Bo Van Pelt Finished first, T2 and third in his last three starts of 2012. Here's hoping it's not fool’s gold.
12. Adam Scott Plays a light schedule but should contend a few times and run into a win.
13. Hunter Mahan With the pressure of the Ryder Cup lifted, we should see the pre-Masters Mahan from 2012.
14. Zach Johnson Solid player with a great putter. It comes down to how big his good weeks are.
15. Matt Kuchar He's an ATM machine that will occasionally pick off a win. An American Adam Scott.
16. Ian Poulter A match-play giant, he recently added a win at the WGC-HSBC Champions to show promise in stroke-play formats.
17. Phil Mickelson Lefty looked human in 2012, barely hanging onto an automatic Ryder Cup berth.
18. Lee Westwood Seems to be no shortage of turmoil in the Westwood camp in terms of his support staff.
19. Charl Schwartzel Won his last two events by a wide margin in 2012 and was inside the top five in his last five worldwide starts despite a TOUR season below his standards.
20. Webb Simpson Other than the U.S. Open win, the rest of his 2012 felt like a half-step back from 2011.
21. Martin Kaymer The German will be a rookie on the PGA TOUR despite already being a major winner. Enters 2013 coming off a win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
22. Rickie Fowler We will find out soon enough how much of his poor play in the summer/fall of 2012 was related to Ryder Cup pressure.
23. Ryan Moore Top 10'd his last four starts, culminating with a win at the Justin Timberlake before the birth of his child.
24. Bud Cauley He's not going anywhere. Tends to run hot in extended spurts.
25. Seung-yul Noh He's made his last 20 cuts worldwide. Just needs to finish one off.
26. Graeme McDowell I'm not sure how I've faded him this far, other than he did not handle the lead well in the U.S. Open and The Open Championship.
27. Jonas Blixt Swede showed a flair for the dramatic with a third and a win in the Fall Series of his rookie year.
28. Jim Furyk This season will be a mental gut-check for Furyk, as he tries to shed the label of a choker.
29. Sergio Garcia We know he will do something brilliant and we know he will do something ridiculous. It’s the in-between that's hard to peg.
30. Tommy Gainey There may not have been a player on the globe that was more disappointed to see 2012 end.
31. Robert Garrigus With five runners-up in 2012, we are forced to wonder what could have been.
32. Peter Hanson Won the KLM Open and BMW Masters late in the year in Europe and played well in some big U.S. events, including a T3 at the Masters.
33. Chris Kirk Ended the season cashing in his last 12 events, including two ties for fourth.
34. Steve Stricker He showed signs in 2012 that his time as an elite player is running out. If he's a stock, now's the time to cash out.
35. Scott Piercy We can't lose our minds over a third at the John Deere and a win at the RBC Canadian, but his T2 at the WGC-HSBC was eye-opening.
36. Nicolas Colsaerts There's no question the talent is there. It's a matter of how quickly he adjusts to the PGA TOUR schedule.
37. Bill Haas Hasn't finished outside the top 35 in money in the last three seasons, but a strong pack of competition will test that this season.
38. Ernie Els Understandably disappeared after his win at The Open Championship and finally showed up again with a T2 at the WGC-HSBC.
39. Carl Pettersson He can be very dangerous in concentrated spurts. Ride him while hot, but not too long.
40. Luke Guthrie Likely the best rookie, I could see him having a year very similar to Bud Cauley's 2012.
41. Jason Day The Aussie sort of fell off the map for a while in 2012 coinciding with the birth of his child, but he's too talented not to bounce back in 2013.
42. Nick Watney I worry about his expected shift from Titleist to Nike given the importance of total driving and ball-striking to his game.
43. John Huh Came out of nowhere for a spectacular rookie season, but I could see a sophomore slump.
44. Harris English He has to play better in the final round when contending, and if he figures that piece out then he could be a star.
45. Scott Stallings Similar to Tommy Gainey, he's streaky and can take it low in events that turn into shootouts. Winner in each of his first two years on TOUR.
46. Martin Laird Felt like he cooled off some last year, but he's always a threat when length outweighs accuracy.
47. Vijay Singh Made his last 12 cuts, including four top 10s, but struggled putting tournaments away that were within reach.
48. Matt Every Twice a runner-up in 2012, and also contended at the Sony Open. He could sneak up and have a huge year.
49. Ross Fisher I'm less concerned about his ability than I am about his schedule. Must play and do well early.
50. Billy Horschel Finally getting full status and a solid number beside his name, this should be a great year for the former Florida All-American.