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Predictions are a risky business in golf

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — To listen to Zach Johnson and Paul Goydos is to be reminded that golf always holds a few surprises.

Johnson was asked to go back one year and rank the majors in order of which he was most likely to win. He would have put the Masters last on his list, and it still seems surreal to have a green jacket in his closet.

Goydos won the Bay Hill Invitational in 1996 and didn't win another PGA Tour event until the Sony Open last year. He returned to the winners—only Mercedes—Benz Championship for the first time in 11 years, during which time Tiger Woods turned pro and won 61 times.

"If you would have told me when I won that from '97 through '07 that some guy was going to win 60 times, I would say that you're out of your mind," Goydos said. "There's just no way. That's not going to happen."

Predictions can be a dangerous business, especially in golf, and there's no telling how 2008 is going to unfold.

The new season begins Thursday at the Mercedes—Benz Championship, the earliest start on the PGA Tour since 2002, and there's a chance history could repeat itself. It was in 2002 that Woods won the first two legs of the Grand Slam, and that's a possibility considering the U.S. Open will be held this year at Torrey Pines, where Woods has won five times.

Or maybe not. That also was the year Ty Tryon was on the PGA Tour, no one conceived of women playing on men's tours and the Ryder Cup was still closely contested.

Gazing into the crystal ball, here's one timeline of what might happen in 2008:

Jan. 6 — Stephen Ames, feeling right at home after buying a time share at Kapalua, wins the Mercedes—Benz Championship for his second straight PGA Tour victory, leaving him nine short of Byron Nelson's record.

Jan. 15 — Roger Clemens attends a voluntary meeting at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on the tour's anti—doping policy and is relieved to learn drug testing doesn't start until July 8 — and then only for golfers.

Jan. 27 — For the fourth straight year, Tiger Woods opens his season with a victory in the Buick Invitational. He wins by 15 shots in a tuneup for the U.S. Open.

Jan. 28 — The PGA Tour runs its first FedEx Cup commercial, sticking with the theme, "Who will be the first to kiss the cup?"

Feb. 28 — John Daly withdraws from the Honda Classic.

April 6 — Davis Love III birdies the last two holes to win the Shell Houston Open and qualify for the Masters.

April 13 — Tiger Woods wins the Masters by one shot over Love.

April 14 — The PGA Tour runs its second FedEx Cup commercial, noting the cup still hasn't been kissed.

April 20 — Ernie Els wins the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, his first PGA Tour victory on U.S. soil in nearly four years.

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