Tour and News

Gary Van Sickle looks back at his predictions for the 2007 PGA Tour season

Photo: Simon Bruty/SI

Zach Johnson's Masters win thwarted Tiger's shot at a grand slam, and one of Gary Van Sickle's 2007 predictions.

Just got my Christmas card from the Amazing Kreskin (I don't send him one; he already knows what would be in it), which reminds me that it's time to score my eight predictions for 2007. Luckily, I was able to find a copy of the column buried beneath my unsold shares of Enron and WorldCom, a Colorado Rockies World Series pennant and an order form for Miami Dolphins season tickets.

Yes, I was on fire with psychic knowledge before the '07 season. The year began with the Michelle Wie Classic, as I called the Sony Open in Hawaii. Wie was barely a footnote to the event. She didn't make the cut, but amateur Tadd Fujikawa did and completely stole the show, overshadowing even the tournament winner, Paul Goydos. It was a big year for Wie, as in a big disaster. How bad was it? So bad that she wasn't invited back for the '08 Fujikawa Classic — I mean, Sony Open.

Prediction 1: "Tiger gets his streak to nine in a row and has a monster year."

Well, Nick O'Hern ruined the first half of that call at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but Woods did have a monster year. I think one or two 5-year-old kids failed to predict that. I thought he'd dominate on the spacious fairways of The Gallery, the new match play site, but on a gray, blustery day, Tiger couldn't get it together. His run at the end of the season, however, where he picked up the PGA Championship and the first FedEx Cup title, showed he's back in position to dominate in '08. I'll take half a point credit for "monster year."

Prediction 2: "Tiger gets another Tiger Slam and maybe even makes it five in a row at Carnoustie."

Close but wrong. Woods was the runner up at the Masters and the U.S. Open, one Zach Johnson putt and one Angel Cabrera perfect drive away from four majors in a row. At Carnoustie, he knocked it O.B. on the opening hole with a 4-iron and was never a factor. Not a bad pick, but no score.

Prediction 3: Regarding the FedEx Cup, "we'll start caring in September ... if the Tour is lucky."

The new points system was a season-long nuisance, as predicted, and useless. I also correctly pointed out that the low finishers had no shot, which Rich Beem proved after rallying to get past the first round at Westchester, and that the race to get into the 144-man field would yield no drama because "everybody who can play dead is in." Did we care in September? Not so much, but the four FedEx Cup events were good viewing on their own. Score one slam-dunk point.

Prediction 4: On Phil Mickelson, "he'll be in the mix Sunday at Oakmont."

I don't know where Phil really was Sunday during the U.S. Open, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't Western Pennsylvania. Phil hurt his wrist while practicing from the thick rough a few weeks before the Open. He played hurt but missed the cut. He sounded like a bit of a crybaby when he complained about the conditions later, as if someone had put a gun to his head and forced him to practice shots out of the hay. I was right about him bouncing back from his Winged Foot debacle; he won the Players Championship. But Oakmont took him down. No points.

Prediction 5: "The Golf Channel will improve, but its lack of viewers will become an issue."

The network improved somewhat, but its progress was a little disappointing. Critiquing the on-air personnel choices would be subjective, so I won't do it, but the Golf Channel proved no better than the other networks when it repeatedly signed off for the day even though play wasn't finished. Its post-round coverage at majors was spotty. It delivered one good hour, but unfortunately was on the air for three. Quality, not quantity, should be a goal in '08. The lack of audience was such a sore spot that the network only released the numbers that included the viewers who watched the nightly replays, too. Score a point.

Prediction 6: "The winning score at Oakmont will be no better than three over par."

Angel Cabrera posted five over. Count the basket.

Prediction 7: At the Masters, "CBS may actually show someone other than Phil, Tiger or Fred Couples."

While we were still heavily Tiger-dosed, even CBS couldn't avoid underdog Zach Johnson. Score a point for a weak prediction.

Prediction 8: It'll be a big year for young guns such as Sergio Garcia, Trevor Immelman, Luke Donald, J.B. Holmes, Camilo Villegas and Troy Matteson.

Oops. No winners there. Sergio messed up at the British Open, Donald kicked away leads in Hawaii and Dallas. Holmes and Matteson turned invisible. Score a big zero.

Final tally: Four and a half points out of eight, a .563 batting average. Not great, not awful. Coming soon: eight things to watch for in '08. As they say in Wrigleyville, wait 'til next year.

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