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2012′s Big Questions: Can another rookie pull a ‘Keegan Bradley’?

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Rookie Bud Cauley / Getty Images

We're just days away from the first swings of the 2012 PGA Tour season, and so it's time to get in our last-minute predictions, guesses, estimates and prognostications. We continue with a look at a rookie who could pull a "Keegan Bradley" in '12.

No doubt about it, Keegan Bradley had an incredibly special year in 2011. From becoming only the third player in golf history to win a major in his first appearance to winning multiple PGA Tour events, the 25-year-old from Woodstock, Vt., had a season most golfers can only dream about.

Best of all? He accomplished all of it in his first season on tour. Think about it: a PGA Tour rookie, going toe-to-toe with some of the best players in the world ... and actually coming out on top. Sure, we've seen plenty of rookies win in their first season, but none, in recent memory, had as big an impact on the tour as Keegan Bradley did last season.

With a new crop of 26 rookies joining the tour this year, you have to wonder if there's a guy in the bunch that could replicate Keegan's year-long success. Looking at the list of names, there a few who could make some noise (Harris English and Jason Kokrak come to mind); however, while most might have a moment or two of brilliance, trying to keep it going for an entire season, and remain consistent, is extremely difficult.

Despite the task at hand, there's one rookie who could rise above the rest and come close to replicating Keegan's season. That guy would be Bud Cauley. While most rookies will be cutting their teeth during the early part of the season, Cauley's experience advantage could give him a serious edge over his peers.

Just last season, Cauley did the unthinkable, foregoing the rest of his junior year at the University of Alabama to turn pro. Despite the long odds, he made enough in just eight starts -- he finished inside the top 25 on five occasions -- to get inside the top 125 on the PGA Tour's money list and secure his card.

While he didn't go the Q-School route like most guys, Cauley showed enough in just eight starts to make you believe he could produce something special in 2012. Time will tell, but when the season comes to a close, don't be surprised if we're all talking about this special 21-year-old talent.

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