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2012 Sleepers: Tim Clark is Back

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Here's a look at the top Sleepers for the 2012 golf season. Improvement percentage is calculated by comparing the 2012 projected earnings vs. the 2011 earnings. Golfers listed below are ranked by projected earnings.

1. Tim Clark
2011 Final Rank: 138
2011 Earnings: $571,000
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,500,000
Improvement Pct: 162
2012 Outlook: Clark was ready to take his game to the next level last season, but an elbow injury derailed his season from which he spent the majority of the year recovering. He did manage to get a few starts in early, and it looked like the momentum from his first PGA Tour victory in 2010 had carried over as he almost earned enough in just two full events to crack the Top 125. Clark will be fully exempt when he returns, though, because of that victory in 2010. If he's anywhere near the player he was before the injury, he's a must in salary leagues. In draft leagues he could be taken in the fourth round, if healthy.

2. Paul Casey
2011 Final Rank: 136
2011 Earnings: $590,386
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,500,000
Improvement Pct: 154
2012 Outlook: Casey was well off his game in 2010, but there's no reason to think it was anything more than just a bad year. Actually, you could probably put some of the blame on a bad toe, but let's just say that he had a hiccup and he's ready to move on; it happens. He's only a year removed from a $3 million season, and Casey should, at minimum, double his earnings from last season. He's a must in salary cap leagues and should go somewhere in the middle-rounds in draft leagues.

3. Stephen Ames
2011 Final Rank: 139
2011 Earnings: $547,589
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,250,000
Improvement Pct: 128
2012 Outlook: Playing time shouldn't be a problem for Ames this year even though he finished outside the Top 125. Since this was his first time missing the Top-125 exemption, he still has a past-champions exemption that he can use if needed. But does he have much left in the tank? Considering he's only two years removed from a $2 million season, it looks like he does. He's worth a shot in salary cap leagues and is probably a 10th-round pick in draft leagues.

4. Jason Bohn
2011 Final Rank: 150
2011 Earnings: $411,943
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
Improvement Pct: 142
2012 Outlook: Bohn had a terrible 2011 season, but he's exempt for the upcoming season due to his win at the Zurich Classic in 2010. Due in part to that victory, Bohn earned $1.9 million in 2010. That's probably as good as it's going to get for Bohn, but considering his number is little more than $400K, you might as well take a look. In draft leagues, Bohn should go near the end of the draft.

5. Vaughn Taylor
2011 Final Rank: 148
2011 Earnings: $423,907
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
Improvement Pct: 135
2012 Outlook: Taylor never quite panned out like we thought he would, but after a horrible 2011 season, he has a second chance via Q-School. Let's not forget that Taylor earned $1.8 million in 2010, and while his ceiling isn't probably as high as it used to be, it's still high enough at his current price. Taylor isn't exactly a must-have because his track record is mixed, but it would be wise to take a long hard look at him. In draft leagues, Taylor could be a good late-round pick.

6. Stuart Appleby
2011 Final Rank: 129
2011 Earnings: $657,150
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
Improvement Pct: 52
2012 Outlook: We've seen this before from Appleby. In 2009, his earnings plummeted all the way below $1 million, but he quickly recovered the following year and nearly earned $2 million. Along the way he picked up another victory, which is vital because he'll be exempt this season with that victory. Appleby is not likely to reach the heights of his 2010 season, but some kind of improvement should be expected. He's a good option in salary cap leagues, but not quite a must-have. In draft leagues, he's probably suited for something after the 10th round.

7. Graham DeLaet
2011 Final Rank: 253
2011 Earnings: $10,472
2012 Projected Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 7,062
2012 Outlook: DeLaet earned nearly $1 million in 2010, but injuries derailed his 2011 season early on. Because of that, he'll have 26 events to catch up to No. 125 on last season's list. In other words, he essentially has a full exemption this season. Considering he nearly cracked $1 million just a year ago, there's no reason to pass on him. He's also worth a look in drafts as well, probably after round 10.

8. Jamie Lovemark
2011 Final Rank: 231
2011 Earnings: $34,693
2012 Projected Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 2,061
2012 Outlook: Lovemark entered 2011 with high expectations and with good cause. He tore though the Nationwide Tour the year prior, and the sky was the limit. Things didn't come as easy on the PGA Tour, though, as an injury derailed his season just nine starts in. Perhaps that injury played a factor in his poor play as well. Whatever the case, since he only played in nine events, he'll have plenty of time to regain his status in 2012. For those in salary cap leagues, he is a must-have. You can probably get Lovemark late in your draft as well, but don't let him get past the 10th round.

9. John Mallinger
2011 Final Rank: 195
2011 Earnings: $179,498
2012 Projected Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 317
2012 Outlook: Mallinger split his time between the Nationwide Tour and the PGA Tour last season. While he wasn't very successful on the PGA Tour, he tore up the Nationwide Tour, earning his 2012 card. Mallinger is certainly capable of earning $1 million a year on the PGA Tour, and as such, he should be on your salary cap team this year. In draft leagues, he should go near the end of the draft.

10. Kevin Sutherland
2011 Final Rank: 178
2011 Earnings: $289,693
2012 Projected Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 158
2012 Outlook: You aren't going to break the bank with Sutherland, as his best days are behind him, but he'll get a shot early on to grab a card for the season as he was forced out of action due to a neck injury last year. He'll have 15 events to earn $378,473, reaching No. 125 from the 2011 money list. If he does, he's eligible to play the remainder of the season. Check his health status before making this pick, but even if he's not ready to go right away, he's still probably worth a pick. He might also be worth a late-round draft pick as well.

11. Henrik Stenson
2011 Final Rank: 166
2011 Earnings: $327,799
2012 Projected Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 128
2012 Outlook: Last season, Stenson sure didn't resemble the player who won The Players in 2009 and the WGC Match-Play event in 2007. Actually, he hasn't resembled that player for a couple years now. Is this how Stenson is going to go out, or can he find some of that game again this year? At his current price, you might as well take a chance on him. His World Gold Ranking will get him into enough events to give him a chance, and he really only needs to play well once to justify the pick. In draft leagues, he's probably worth a late-round flyer.

12. Jeff Maggert
2011 Final Rank: 216
2011 Earnings: $101,080
2012 Projected Earnings: $500,000
Improvement Pct: 394
2012 Outlook: Maggert's game completely fell apart last season, but he's back for another try in 2012. Maggert has the option to play the Champions Tour, but considering be took the time to qualify for the PGA Tour through Q-School, it's pretty obvious where his priorities are. Maggert earned more than $800K just two years ago, so it won't take much effort to destroy his number from 2011. Maggert should be at the bottom of every salary cap team, but he's probably not worth the time in draft leagues.

13. Kevin Kisner
2011 Final Rank: 181
2011 Earnings: $270,170
2012 Projected Earnings: $500,000
Improvement Pct: 85
2012 Outlook: Kisner had his card for 2011 via Q-School, and although he showed next to nothing last year, there's always a chance he could fall into a Top-5 somewhere along the way. That's about all you would need from Kisner to justify a selection at such a low price. Kisner was a rookie last season, so perhaps he didn't adjust well to life on the PGA Tour, perhaps he'll play better the second time around. He's worth a look in salary cap leagues, but probably not in draft leagues.

14. Boo Weekley
2011 Final Rank: 180
2011 Earnings: $279,531
2012 Projected Earnings: $500,000
Improvement Pct: 78
2012 Outlook: It seems like yesterday that Boo Weekly was riding his driver off the first tee box at the Ryder cup and inspiring his team to a victory. It was actually a few years ago, and Weekley's game has all but disappeared since. Weekley lost his card last year, but he's still got that past-champions exemption sitting in his pocket. If he chooses to use it this year, he'll have plenty of opportunity to improve his 2011 number. He's probably not worth a draft pick, however.

15. Nathan Green
2011 Final Rank: 168
2011 Earnings: $312,109
2012 Projected Earnings: $500,000
Improvement Pct: 60
2012 Outlook: Green has finished higher than $1 million three of his six years on the PGA Tour, so his upside is known, but his last two seasons have been terrible. Fortunately, Green secured his card at Q-School, so he'll get another shot to finish in the Top-125. Green was one of the final competitors to qualify, so his starts might be limited this season, but it won't take much to get on top of his number from last season. He might also be worth a look late in your draft league.

16. Daniel Chopra
2011 Final Rank: 247
2011 Earnings: $15,411
2012 Projected Earnings: $250,000
Improvement Pct: 1522
2012 Outlook: Chopra earned his card via the Nationwide Tour and, fortunatley for those in salary cap leagues, he played twice last season and earned a small sum of just more than $15 K. Chopra's $15K is the equivalent of two made cuts throughout the season. Let's hope he can make at least two cuts this season while playing a full schedule on the PGA Tour. He's not a must-have, only because he's not likely to make more than $500K, but there's also no reason to leave him off your team when he can be had so cheaply. He's not worth the time in a draft league, however.

17. Mike Weir
2011 Final Rank: 240
2011 Earnings: $23,312
2012 Projected Earnings: $250,000
Improvement Pct: 972
2012 Outlook: It looks like we'll never see the Mike Weir that captured the Masters again, but he needs only to be a shell of his former self to justify this pick. To say that Weir struggled last season is a huge understatement, but he's just too talented to keep playing this poorly. Considering his play last season, nothing is guaranteed with Weir, but at a cheap price, you should probably have him on your salary cap league team. Pass on him in draft leagues, but someone will probably take him.

18. Michael Sim
2011 Final Rank: 225
2011 Earnings: $47,403
2012 Projected Earnings: $250,000
Improvement Pct: 427
2012 Outlook: Sim battled injuries last season and his play completely fell off. He isn't fully exempt this season, but even players without status can sneak into a few events. And if all goes well, they can earn their card during the season. The chances of that aren't high, but then again, neither is his cap number for this year. As long as he gets a handful of starts, this pick will probably pay off. He's not a must-have, butmore of a "why not?"

19. Alexandre Rocha
2011 Final Rank: 184
2011 Earnings: $225,026
2012 Projected Earnings: $250,000
Improvement Pct: 11
2012 Outlook: As is the case with many Q-School grads, Rocha is coming off a bad season, but it was his first full season on the PGA Tour and there's a possibility that his second time around these courses will look much different. OK, maybe not much different, but a Top-10 just about anywhere will justify his selection in a salary cap league. He's not worth a look in draft leagues, however.

20. Jose Maria Olazabal
2011 Final Rank: 261
2011 Earnings: $6,330
2012 Projected Earnings: $50,000
Improvement Pct: 689
2012 Outlook: If healthy, Olazabal could earn $200K or so this season and at that price, you might as well try and find a spot for him. Olazabal played in only six events last season and made the cut only once, but that is to our benefit because his price is now rock bottom. It was only a few years ago that he nearly earned $1 million, so who knows? Maybe he can find his game for a short stretch this season and blow his 2011 number out of the water. Olazabal is not worth consideration for draft leagues.