1. Rory McIlroy (20): Northern Ireland’s rising young star cracked the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking last fall. He won the Dubai Desert Classic last February, tied for third at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine and tied for 10th at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
2. Anthony Kim (24): Couldn’t follow up two ’08 PGA Tour titles with any wins in ’09, but his record-setting 11 birdies in the second round of the Masters last spring reminded us what he’s capable of doing on big stages.
3. Camilo Villegas (27): After winning twice in ’08, Villegas was steady if unspectacular in ’09. He started last season No. 7 in the Official World Golf Ranking; starts ’10 ranked No. 23.
4. Nick Watney (28): Won the Buick Invitational last year. A fifth-place finish at the HSBC Champions in China in November was his second top-5 finish in a World Golf Championship in ‘09.
5. Martin Kaymer (25): The German ranks 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking and is a four-time European Tour winner with two victories last season. He tied for sixth at the PGA Championship at Hazeltine last year and finished third in the Race to Dubai standings.
6. Ross Fisher (29): Three-time European Tour winner from England who beat Anthony Kim to win the Volvo World Match Play Championship in November. He finished fifth in last year’s U.S. Open and fourth in the Race to Dubai standings.
7. Sean O’Hair (27): The two-time PGA Tour winner is still figuring out just how good he can be. Another victory could open the gates.
8. Michael Sim (25): The Nationwide Tour Player of the Year last season, he earned PGA Tour “battlefield promotion” after winning three Nationwide Tour events in ’09. He won the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit in ’09.
9. Hunter Mahan (27): Tour brethren are waiting for him to add to that breakthrough PGA Tour victory at the Travelers Championship in '07. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup appearances speak to the level of his game.
10. Ryo Ishikawa (18): Youngest player ever to reach the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He had four victories on the Japan Golf Tour in ’09.