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Worldwide wins: 63.

Majors: U.S. Open (1994, 1997), British Open (2002, 2012).

Best 2012 performances: Won the British Open.

2012 majors: Masters-DNP, US Open-9, British Open-1.

Backspin: Is the Big Easy more like Padraig Harrington or Darren Clarke? Harrington in 2008 was the last player to follow a British Open title with the PGA Championship. On other side is Clarke, who finally captured a major at age 42 and spent the next year celebrating. Els could be somewhere in between. He won his fourth major and has long felt he belonged in the Seve Ballesteros (5 majors) or Nick Faldo (6 majors) territory. He says he quit thinking about the career Grand Slam. Expect an easy approach to Kiawah, for it’s the Masters next April that really gets his attention.

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HUNTER MAHAN

Age: 30.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 13.

Worldwide wins: 5.

Majors: None.

Best 2012 performances: Won the WGC-Match Play Championship and Houston Open.

2012 majors: Masters-T12, US Open-T38, British Open-T19.

Backspin: Mahan is perplexed why he is only No. 8 in the Ryder Cup standings with two wins this year, including a World Golf Championship. Part of that is his moderate performances in the majors. As well as he hits the ball, that remains the one thing holding him back from being mentioned with the elite. His lone chance was the U.S. Open at Bethpage, when his shot to the 16th hit the pin and caromed away. He no longer surprises anyone, but he could sneak up on this one.

Story Continues →