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RORY MCILROY

Age: 23.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide wins: 6.

Majors: U.S. Open (2011).

Best 2012 performances: Won the Honda Classic.

2012 majors: Masters-T40, US Open-Cut, British Open-T60.

Backspin: It’s hard to believe that McIlroy was on the verge of establishing himself at No. 1 when he stood over a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole at Quail Hollow for the win. He lost in a playoff, and soon had a hard time making cuts as questions swirled about whether his romance with Caroline Wozniacki was holding him back. Welcome to the spotlight, kid. Equally hard to believe is that tie for 40th in the Masters would be his best performance in the majors to date. The talent hasn’t left him.

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ERNIE ELS

Age: 42.

Country: South Africa.

World ranking: 15.

Story Continues →