PGA Tour Confidential: Poulter rallies to win WGC-HSBC Champions in China

Phil Mickelson, HSBC Champions
Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Phil Mickelson tied for second at the HSBC Champions at Mission Hills.

Godich: Tiger and Rory weren't there, but Poulter still beat a strong field that featured a sexy leaderboard. Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Jason Dufner were among the players who tied for second. Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen held a share of the third-round lead. And for the second week in a row, Nick Watney flirted with 59. Based on what you've seen of late, which player are you most intrigued to watch in 2013?

Bamberger: You really want a truthful answer? Tiger. His is a sports story and more.

Herre: I like a late-bloomer like the Duf. His ball-striking, course management and head are first rate. If he can take his short game up a notch, I think he could really do some damage.

Hanger: Dufner. Love his demeanor and waggle, and I want to see if he can get a major in 2013. Oosty's fun to watch too with that classic swing, but we pretty much know what to expect from Phil, Ernie and Lee.

Dusek: Easy, Mickelson. He's at a point in his career when he could either win a major or fade into the sunset. His health is a concern, as is his motivation at non-majors, but I think he's got another green jacket in his future. I'll also be fascinated to see if a 40-year-old Westwood can win his first major now that he'll be based in America.

Ritter: All eyes will be on Tiger and Rory, but from the list you offered us, it's Phil who could most easily turn into a compelling story. Does his late-season surge foreshadow a last great one- or two-year run, or is he on the downside? Can't wait to see how he looks on the West Coast in a few months.

Van Sickle: It's hard to argue against Tiger and Rory, who will be endlessly fascinating. Especially Tiger, who I think will have a better '13 than '12. I'm intrigued by Oosthuizen's potential. He really seems like he's got the total game. Maybe he just needs a little more time, a little more confidence and a little more killer instinct. He could be another Ernie Els, if we're lucky.

Garrity: I think Dufner is by far the most intriguing. Aside from his Mona Lisa smile, I want to know how a journeyman pro can suddenly morph into a superstar without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

Walker: I'm still most intrigued by the Duf. His great 2012 season, his steady Ryder Cup play, his ability to stare at a single animal at the zoo for hours. Mickelson too. It's starting to look like he's getting his confidence back with the putter.

Godich: That begs the question: How long will Phil stick with the claw grip if he hits a rough stretch on the greens?

Ritter: About as long as it took readers to finish that sentence.

Herre: Phil is all about change. He'll try anything.

Dusek: I agree. Phil has proven he's willing to adapt his game and his equipment more than just about any player out there.

Bamberger: He sticks with his caddie and his wife. After that, all bets are off.

Van Sickle: You go to the claw because you have to. I think he'll stick with it because it appears right now that there's an end-game coming for belly and long putters. No incentive to switch to one of those right now.

Bamberger: You could see him go belly (again) just to stick it to the idea of a rules change.

Herre: Yes, Mickelson likes to make a statement.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Which player are you most interested in following next year?

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