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2012 Foreign & Non-Members: Rory Ready to Roar

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.

This preview spotlights foreign golfers who will play on the PGA TOUR in 2012 and American golfers who were not PGA TOUR members last year. Golfers are ranked by 2012 Projected Earnings.

1. Rory McIlroy
2012 Projected Earnings: $4,000,000
2011 Earnings: 1,905,609
Events: 10
2012 Outlook: Last season was quite a year for McIlroy. He went from budding superstar, to choke artist, to the next Tiger all the in the span of a few months. The chatter quieted over the second half of the season, but as soon as this season begins, the talk will start again about just how high the ceiling is for McIlroy. One thing is certain, McIlroy will be a factor at all the majors, not necessarily in contention, but he'll be one of a handful of players who are considered favorites.

2. Martin Kaymer
2012 Projected Earnings: $2,000,000
2011 Earnings: 344,209
Events: 10
2012 Outlook: A quick look at his earnings from last season and you have to wonder how it fell apart for Kaymer so quickly. A closer look reveals that his WGC Match-play runner-up finish and his WGC HSBC victory are not factored into that number. Those two showing alone are worth about $2 million, so not only was last year better than it looked, it might have been better than the year before when he won the PGA Championship. Kaymer is the real deal, and though his schedule is light, he should still be considered early in your draft.

3. Lee Westwood
2012 Projected Earnings: $2,000,000
2011 Earnings: 970,446
Events: 10
2012 Outlook: Lee Westwood was briefly the No. 1-ranked player in the world last year, but for some reason, he just can't put it all together at the right time. He's come very close but lacks the closing prowess of the better players on the PGA Tour, at least on this side of the pond, which just happens to play host to three of the four majors. Maybe he'll pick up that first major and everything will become easier, just like it was for Phil Mickelson, but until he gets there, the pressure will continue to mount.

4. Edoardo Molinari
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,250,000
2011 Earnings: 397,724
Events: 12
2012 Outlook: Molinari made 11 of 12 cuts last season on the PGA Tour, but he didn't do much on the weekends. Molinari's official PGA earnings are a bit skewed because they don't include his T17 at the WGC Match-play event and two Top-40s at other WGC events. Factor those in and he would have earned closer to $800K last year. Odds are, if he continues to make it to the weekend this year, he'll have better results. As such, he should pull in more than $1 million this year.

5. Francesco Molinari
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
2011 Earnings: 158,387
Events: 11
2012 Outlook: Last year was a tale of three seasons for Molinari. The first was impressive with a Top-15 at the Honda Tournament of Champions and a Top-3 at the WGC Cadillac Championship. The second was horrifying with a string of missed cuts that lasted from the Masters through the British Open. The final act was just OK with no missed cuts but no Top-10s, either. Of all the acts of his 2011 season, the middle one was the most puzzling as Molinari is too good to miss that many cuts in a row. Expect more consistency this season and maybe an appearance on a Sunday leaderboard at a major.

6. Alvaro Quiros
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
2011 Earnings: 363,567
Events: 8
2012 Outlook: Last year was supposed to be the breakout year for Quiros, but he never quite got going, at least on the PGA TOUR. He played well enough overseas to keep his World Golf Ranking near theTop 50, so he'll again have some opportunities this season. With his talent, he's bound to finish well somewhere along the line.

7. Matteo Manassero
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
2011 Earnings: 133,283
Events: 8
2012 Outlook: Manassero doesn’t have much experience on the PGA Tour, but considering his No. 58 World Golf Ranking, he's bound to get much more the next 12 months. Manessero is young - he turns 19 this spring - but he's already showing signs that he can handle the grind. He'll play mostly overseas this season, but as long as his ranking stays this high, he should gain access to some big events.

8. Kyung-tae Kim
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
2011 Earnings: 291,309
Events: 9
2012 Outlook: Kim is 23rd in the World Golf Rankings, which will offer plenty of opportunities to play on the PGA TOUR this year. With the WGC results from last year factored in, his earnings were actually closer to $1 million. There's no reason to think that his performance will drop this season, and if he happens to play more on the PGA TOUR this season, he could end up being an excellent value.

9. Anders Hansen
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
2011 Earnings: 617,067
Events: 7
2012 Outlook: Hansen has been a solid player in Europe for a while now, but he's never quite figure out how to play in the States. He did, however, play well enough to post a Top-3 at the PGA Championship last August, which accounted for nearly all his non-member earnings last year. Hansen had one of his better seasons last year, but don't expect him to build on that this year. He'll turn 42 late in the season and the grind could get to him. One other consideration, with what looks like one of his final chances to make the Ryder Cup this fall, he'll probably focus more on events in Europe rather than the States.

10. Bud Cauley
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
2011 Earnings: 735,150
Events: 8
2012 Outlook: How's this for exclusive company, last season Cauley became the sixth player in PGA Tour history to earn his card in summer and fall after leaving college and turning pro. The other five are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Gary Hallberg, Justin Leonard and Ryan Moore. As a non-member, Cauley earned more than the 125th person on the money list, which means starting in January, he's a member of the PGA Tour. We've seen situations similar to this before and it doesn't always play out like you'd expect, but the future sure looks bright for Cauley.

11. Darren Clarke
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
2011 Earnings: 1,452,078
Events: 3
2012 Outlook: Clarke pulled off an upset for the ages when he won the Open Championship last summer, but to expect anything similar this season would be foolish. In his prime, Clarke was one of the best players in the world, but he hasn't been that player for years now, save for one week last summer, that is. While he's bound to defend his title well this season, it's doubtful he'll make much noise outside that one event this season. On the bright side, his win last year will open some doors to bigger events, so he'll have plenty of opportunity this season.

12. Ryo Ishikawa
2012 Projected Earnings: $1,000,000
2011 Earnings: 143,636
Events: 10
2012 Outlook: Looking back, things may have happened a little too quickly for Ishikawa. When he first came upon the scene, he was only 11 years old. OK, maybe he was in his teens, but still, too young to take it all in. A few years later it looks like Ryo is finding some balance and with that, his play should improve. His best showing last year came at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational where he finished T4. That showing is probably a sign of things to come.

13. Simon Dyson
2012 Projected Earnings: $850,000
2011 Earnings: 185,833
Events: 3
2012 Outlook: A fast start to the 2011 season opened some doors for Dyson last season as he saw his World Golf Ranking skyrocket, but once inside those doors, he didn't accomplish much. However, his World ranking is 32 and since most of his early-season events are on the European Tour, there's no reason to think his ranking will drop prior to the start of the WGC events. Long story short, he'll play in all the big events this season, so he's worth having on your roster.

14. Ross Fisher
2012 Projected Earnings: $800,000
2011 Earnings: 163,385
Events: 8
2012 Outlook: Fisher won his first two matches at the WGC Match-play event last season and finished with a Top-15 at the Masters, so we know he can play. Will he take the next step this year? We've seen flashes from Fisher over the years, but he hasn't quite panned out as expected. This could be the year, then again, maybe he just shows flashes and no consistency again this season. Either way, he's worth a look as he'll come in handy during those big events.

15. Miguel A. Jimenez
2012 Projected Earnings: $750,000
2011 Earnings: 132,723
Events: 7
2012 Outlook: Jimenez has to slow down at some point, right? Sure, he's not the player he was 10 years ago, but man, every time you look up, there he is with that ponytail. Many have made the mistake of discounting Jimenez too many times. Considering this is a Ryder Cup year, you can bet that we'll see the best of what Jimenez has left.

16. Peter Hanson
2012 Projected Earnings: $400,000
2011 Earnings: 439,030
Events: 12
2012 Outlook: Peter Hanson is another who always seems to play well in Europe, but for some reason it just doesn't translate to the PGA Tour. He's still got a healthy World Golf Ranking, so he'll get his chances this year at most of the big events, but if those events happened to be on U.S. soil, then he's probably out of luck.

17. Johan Edfors
2012 Projected Earnings: $250,000
2011 Earnings: 136,155
Events: 2
2012 Outlook: Edfors collected top-40s in his only two starts on the PGA Tour last season, which just happened to be the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. His current World Golf Ranking is 110, but if he can somehow make a run in Dubai, he could boost that significantly and open some doors over here. If not, then it's hard to see much of an improvement on last year's numbers.

18. Adam Hadwin
2012 Projected Earnings: $200,000
2011 Earnings: 440,752
Events: 5
2012 Outlook: Hadwin has the distinction of making the cut in every PGA Tour event he's played. That's six in all for those of you counting at home. OK, so it's a small sample size, but it's still impressive. Here's the problem, though. He didn't quite make enough to earn his card in the same fashion that Bud Cauley did and his trip to Q-School did not work out so well, so he's stuck without a card entering the 2012 season. He'll get a few exemptions this year, but probably not enough to make him a viable player on your roster this season.

19. Thomas Bjorn
2012 Projected Earnings: $200,000
2011 Earnings: 419,489
Events: 5
2012 Outlook: Bjorn's season mirrored that of fellow European Darren Clarke, with one giant distinction. Both saved their best for the Open Championship last year, but while Clarke won it, Bjorn could only manage a tie for fourth. Bjorn made one last run at the championship that he should have had years before, but he came up just short and, unlike Clarke, doesn't have exemptions to all the big events this year, so his chances will be limited as well.
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