Paul Goydos was all smiles in January after winning the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Marco Garcia/WireImage
Monday, January 23, 2012

Tiger and Phil won't be there, and there's no $10 million retirement nugget at the end of the rainbow, but there are still compelling reasons to watch the seven-week "Fall Series" stretch of tournaments, beginning with this week's Turning Stone Resort Championship in Verona, N.Y.

Players break out
Last year it was Troy Matteson who found his game late with five straight top-10s, including a victory in the Frys.com Open, after a rookie season that had consisted mostly of frustration.

David Duval got his first win in the fall, as did Charles Howell III, both breaking through at the Michelob Championship. CH3 even tasted his first beer there. Talk about life's momentous passages.

Careers are saved
Paul Goydos was on the verge of losing his PGA Tour card when he found something in his last event of the 2006 season. He tied for second at the Chrysler Championship to earn almost $500,000, enough to vault from 160th to 97th on the money list and keep his playing privileges in 2007.

We all know what happened next. Goydos, 43, shot 66-63-70-67 to win the Sony Open in Hawaii for his first victory in more than 10 years, thereby earning a return trip to Augusta and otherwise reviving his dormant career.

You never can tell when a guy's going to find it, or why, or what it might lead to.

Dance partners change on a whim
Daniel Chopra is a huge talent who has slipped to 116th on the money list this year. In danger of dropping out of the top 125 and losing his Tour card, he will try a new caddie at Turning Stone in Ron "Bambi" Levin.

It was Levin who was on the bag when Todd Hamilton won the 2004 British Open, and when Anthony Kim finished second at the 2006 Valero Texas Open and won more than $1.5 million as a rookie this season.

Maybe Chopra and Levin will click. You never know.

Kim, who was planning to work with Mark Calcavecchia's usual caddie, Eric Larson, at the Texas Open in two weeks, was the revelation of last year's end-of-season tournaments with his runner-up finish at La Cantera.

Nationwide pros get their shot
To watch these mostly star-free events is to get an early look at rising young Americans, a demo that takes on added importance as the U.S. keeps getting throttled in the Ryder Cup.

But the Fall Season is good for taking the measure of other players, too.

Nick Flanagan, the Australian who won the 2003 U.S. Amateur, has been all but invisible as a pro, but after winning three times on the Nationwide tour this year for his "battlefield promotion," he will play at Turning Stone this week. His Nationwide buddies will be cheering for him.

There's no better way to act European
The European tour is famous for starting its 2007 season in late '06, and its 2008 season in late '07, with earnings from one year counting toward the following year's money list.

The PGA Tour will probably never go that far, but let's face it: What happens in the next seven weeks is all about '08.

You can bet that Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger will be paying attention if, say, Hunter Mahan reels off a couple of W's. And you can bet it'll impact the way Mahan might play against the Europeans at Valhalla next fall.

The Fall Series is like everything else in golf. Every shot matters.

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