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9 to watch on PGA Tour in 2010

Baltimore Sun

Rickie FowlerHONOLULU - His Web site boasts "the world is talking about Rickie Fowler."

And while the citizens of Uzbekistan might not care about the toned and tanned PGA Tour rookie, the golf world is enamored.

Much of that can be traced to Fowler's collegiate and amateur accomplishments - a two-time All-America at Oklahoma State, he went unbeaten in four matches at the 2009 Walker Cup.

The rest probably reflects Fowler's subhead look - a giant Puma logo on his black painter's cap - and his novel hobby, by golfers' standards: He digs Motocross and has been riding bikes since before he could read - a book or a putt.

"I like to let loose a bit," said Fowler, 21, who grew up in Southern California but has moved to Las Vegas. "And I think the riding has helped me a bit with golf. It's something I'll never give up."

Here are eight more players to watch in 2010:

Rory McIlroyThe 20-year-old from Northern Ireland lived up to his 2009 hype as he made the cuts in all four majors, something Tiger Woods couldn't do. Still technically a PGA Tour rookie, the 160-pounder with the Krusty the Clown hairdo won the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic and tied for third at the PGA Championship.

John DalyAt a past-his-prime 44, the slimmed-down Daly is now only recognizable by his outrageous pants and the cigarettes that forever dangle from his lips. Daly spoke of retirement after carding an 88 at the Buick Open in August, but he still has the talent and motivation (to stave off bankruptcy) to make an impact.

Ryo IshikawaAnother phenom from overseas (Japan) who didn't succumb to the hype machine, Ishikawa justified his Presidents Cup captain's selection by going 3-2. He's small (5 feet 8, 150 pounds) and young (18) but already ranks 30th in the world and plans to play three PGA Tour events in February.

Nick WatneyThe 28-year-old bomber from Northern Californian finished a quiet 132th on the tour's 2009 money list and is aiming for more this year. "I like his power and he's a hard worker," Stewart Cink said. "He doesn't see himself as a world-beater, but he really has excellent talent."

Anthony Kim The results didn't come within a par-5 of the talent in 2009 as Kim endured a six-month stretch without a top-10 finish. He shook off rumors of partying at the Presidents Cup by going 3-1 and crushing Robert Allenby in singles.

Luke DonaldLast year a British paper accused the outwardly laid-back Donald of being content to cash paychecks. But Donald showed his resolve by cutting loose his caddie of eight years - brother Christian. At 32, Donald might own the tour's best short game.

Adam ScottHis victory at the Australian Open in December might be proof that Scott has rediscovered his game after a horrific slump partially caused by hand and knee injuries. "Sometimes when you go through adversity like that," Donald said, "you come out a better player."

Nick TaylorThe University of Washington senior - and the world's second-ranked amateur - shot a second-round 65 last year at the Bethpage Black U.S. Open.

tgreenstein@tribune.com

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