Hot? Old Tiger, Van de Velde, Rock. Not? Mahan, Rory and the future of golf.

Tuesday January 31st, 2012
Tiger Woods tied for third last week in Abu Dhabi.
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

HOT

1. Tiger Woods 1997-2009. He was, quite simply, the most ruthless closer in sports history. It's easier now to appreciate how tough he was back then.

2. Jean Van de Velde. After Kyle Stanley's epic final hole meltdown, suddenly the wayward Frenchman doesn’t look so tragic.

3. Robert Rock. Without question he has the best hair in golf. Pretty good swing, too.

4. Teen queens. With 14-year-old Lydia Ko's victory at the New South Wales Open, does Lexi Thompson now count as an elder stateswoman?

5. Sneds. It's still impossible to take this goofball seriously, but two wins in nine months on legit golf courses is serious business. Pencil in Snedeker as a Masters darkhorse.

NOT

1. Hunter Mahan. Two years ago he won in Phoenix, the hometown of his primary sponsor, Ping. Yet this week Mahan is teeing it up in, of all places, Qatar. Hey, everybody likes money, but loyalty is priceless.

2. Juli Inkster. The grand dame of the LPGA is out 3 to 6 months after elbow surgery. This may actually be a good thing. She was contemplating retirement, but now this feisty soccer mom is determined to come back and end her Hall of Fame career the right way.

3. Rory. Yeah, he was a tad rusty in his season debut, and big-picture, finishing second isn't so bad. But if the young master is going to grow into a truly dominant player, he needs to close out more of these opportunities.

4. The future of golf. At the "Golf 2.0" symposium at the PGA Merchandise Show, Jack Nicklaus revealed that only one of his 22 grandchildren plays the game "more than a little bit." As Golf World's Geoff Russell put it, "If Jack Nicklaus can’t get his grandkids to play golf, what hope do the rest of us have?"

5. Tiger’s aura. Robert Rock? Seriously?

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