Hot? Fred Couples. Not? Phil Mickelson.

Wednesday February 17th, 2010
Phil Mickelson has only one top 10 in his first three events this season.
Mike Ehrmann/SI

Hot

1. The Clambake. Perfect weather, a smashing new golf course, Sunday dramatics at Pebble, a compelling winner ... it's hard to imagine there will be a better non-major all year.

2. Match Play Wednesday. It's one of my favorite days of the year, a sunrise-to-sunset day that is the ultimate physical and mental test. And that's just for the viewers at home!

3. Freddy. It had been seven years since his last victory. And it's 17 years since he was last a dominant player. It will be fun to see how deep he can take this. (But beware of TA3 ...)

4. David Duval. He's an enigma rolled in a mystery in wraparound sunglasses. If he can come back from the abyss to win again, it will be one of golf's most amazing reinventions.

5. The LPGA. Another tournament is about to go on the schedule — in Malaysia! — and with the PGA Tour off to such a sluggish start this is a great chance for the women to steal some of the spotlight, beginning with this week's season-opener in Thailand. Here's the best part: with the new Golf Channel deal kicking in, we'll actually get to see what happens over there.

Not

1. Paul Goydos. It's mortifying to make a 9 on your local muni in front of a couple of buddies. To do so on national TV and give away a tournament in the process? Even the exceedingly glib Goydos seemed at a loss for words.

2. Phil Mickelson. Will someone please tell Lefty the 2010 season has begun?

3. Rory's back. Maybe this is just a little tweak that will soon be forgotten. But back woes are the game's biggest red flag, especially for a young, supple prodigy like McIlroy. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

4. Pebble's 14th green. One guy makes a 9, he's a chop. Three guys do it and something's not right. There's nowhere to miss on this tiny target, but thankfully the USGA's Mike Davis is already coming up with some tweaks to avoid an Open folly.

5. Idiotic Tiger rumors. Yeah, sure, we really believed he was going to come back for the Match Play Championship. Which is sponsored by the company that unceremoniously dumped him as a spokesman. And this is a guy who still holds grudges dating to his teens. We used to say stuff like this was too stupid to print. This rumor was too stupid for the Internet.

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