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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.

May 11 — Phil Mickelson becomes the first player to win back-to-back years at The Players Championship. He calls for a tour vote to make The Players a major, but the vote against is 241-2. Mickelson and Love cast the only votes in favor.

June 12 — The first round of the U.S. Open is postponed because of fog.

June 13 — Half the field doesn't start the first round of the U.S. Open, which again is delayed by fog.

June 14 — Vijay Singh is disqualified from the U.S. Open after getting stuck in traffic and missing his tee time.

June 18 — The U.S. Open concludes on Wednesday when Woods beats Steve Stricker by 15 shots in an 18-hole playoff.

July 6 — Rory Sabbatini wins the AT&T National at Congressional, then announces he is donating the $1.08 million winner's check to help build the new Tiger Woods Learning Center.

July 8 — Sabbatini is the first player tested for drugs.

July 19 — Woods is in the second-to-last group in the third round at Royal Birkdale when a vicious wind off the Irish Sea turns the British Open upside down. He birdies the last hole to break 80.

July 20 — Woods closes with 62 to win the British Open by one shot over Stricker, setting a major championship scoring record and winning from behind for the first time in a major.

Aug. 3 — Fifty columnists change travel plans from Beijing to Detroit to cover Woods' bid for the Grand Slam.

Aug. 7 — Mickelson, who already has won a career-high five times on tour, is disqualified from the PGA Championship when he shows up Thursday on the first tee of the other course at Oakland Hills.

Aug. 10 — Woods birdies the last four holes, but finishes one shot behind Stricker in the PGA Championship.

Aug. 21 — The PGA Tour Playoffs begins at The Barclays. Woods decides to take that week off.

Sept. 21 — Motivated by the Americans having four captain's picks, Europe wins the Ryder Cup, 18 1/2-9 1/2.

Sept. 28 — Woods wins the FedEx Cup in a final—round duel over Stricker. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem again reminds Woods that the cup has never been kissed. And it still isn't.

Sept. 29 — Finchem is tested for drugs.

Oct. 14 — Stricker wins the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda against three alternates when Woods declines to play.

Nov. 11 — Fred Couples is named Ryder Cup captain and announces Michael Jordan and Robin Williams as his assistants.

Nov. 30 — Having missed the last six months with a sore back, Couples recovers and wins the Skins Game.

Dec. 16 — Stricker finishes the year at No. 2 in the world and is voted comeback player of the year for the third straight time.

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