2011 PGA Tour Breakout Candidates

The 2011 PGA Tour will include the usual stars such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. But who else is a candidate to have a career year and win some tournaments?

Lee Westwood – Putting Westwood on this list may sound like sheer idiocy. He is, after all, the world’s number one ranked player. But the fact is that Westwood hasn’t had a lot of success when it comes to actually winning big tournaments. He won two tournaments last season and has a total of 33 in his career, but has never won a major. Westwood came close last year, finishing second in The Open Championship and The Masters, and it wasn’t the first time. He has a total of seven top five finishes since 2000. 2011 could be the breakout year he’s looked for and if he can win one, it will take away the stigma of possibly being the world’s best player never to win a major.

Jamie Lovemark – Lovemark earned his PGA Tour card in 2011 after playing on the Nationwide Tour in 2010. He was the tour’s leader in earnings and was also named the Player of the Year. As a two-time first team All-American at the University of Southern California, he earned three top ten finishes. It’s hard to expect too much from a 22-year old rookie fresh out of college, but Lovemark will get his feet wet and could have a productive season as a rookie this year. Out of all of the players making the jump to the PGA Tour from the Nationwide Tour in 2011, it looks like Lovemark has the most potential.

Rory McIlroy – As young as Lovemark is, McIlroy is even younger. But despite being only 21, McIlroy already has significantly more experience than Lovemark. McIlroy, a member of the European Tour, has already played in five majors, experiencing a great deal of success. He’s never missed the cut in any major and after finishing third and tenth in 2009 in the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open respectively, McIlroy followed that up with third place finishes in the PGA Championship and the Open Championship in 2010. At only 21, it certainly appears to be a matter of not if, but when in terms of him winning a major. 2011 could be the year and if it is, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone.

McIlroy only has two career wins under his belt, but his nine top ten finishes last year helped him to move up to the top 15 in the world golf rankings. If McIlroy can continue his consistency and win a tournament or two, it won’t be long until he reaches the top five.