For the first time in 17 years, the year-end world golf rankings could be missing an American flag in the top 5. After watching Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker dominate the game, and rankings, for the longest time, the golf landscape shifted in 2011, as Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy took over the top spots and look primed to continue their strong play in 2012.
While American golf has almost become an afterthought to some, Ian Poulter said it would be silly to discount the U.S. in 2012. Based on the way a number of American players finished the season, Poults believes the Stars and Stripes could be on the verge of a return to relevance.
"There is some great talent coming out of the States. I'm not going to say they are in a slump in any way, shape or form; they have some fantastic players," Poulter said at the JBWere Masters.
"But I think certainly in the next 18 months, two years, we will see a push from those young guys in the States."
Poulter pointed to Rickie Fowler as one player who could break out next season, and based on the way he's played recently -- picking up his first professional late in the year -- he'd be a good bet to capture his first PGA Tour victory and maybe even contend at a major.
But he's just one of the U.S. names to keep an eye on in 2012. With Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson having big years, there's reason to believe American golf could be on the comeback trail.