Wie practiced at Interlachen on Tuesday.
Jim Mone/AP
By Alan Shipnuck
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hot

1. Stewart Cink. What is the Tour like without Tiger? Basically, like this guy: vanilla. But get used to Cink. He could never beat Woods, but now, suddenly, he is the new boss man.

2. U.S. Women's Open. Not to be redundant here, but if Tiger were healthy he would be the big story this week at the Buick. Instead, the women have the spotlight pretty much all to themselves, a nice change of pace.

3. Martin Kaymer. Europe's latest putative superstar nearly pulled a Shark, frittering away all of his six-stroke lead on Sunday at the BMW Championship while playing on his home soil in Germany. It would have been a devastating loss, but the plucky 23-year-old birdied the 72nd hole and then won the tournament with a spectacular approach shot in sudden death. Now I'm ready to believe the hype.

4. Rocco. Playing together Monday at the CVS Charity Classic, Brandt Snedeker said Mediate was treated like Elvis. Makes sense, given that one of Rocco's best friends is Alex Lifeson, the guitar god from Rush. Rock on, Rocco!

5. Michelle Wie. She earned a spot in the Open the old-fashioned way — through qualifying — and comes into the event on the wings of two good tournaments in a row. Can an 18-year-old be comeback player of the year?

Not

1. Suzann Pettersen. Still winless after last year's breakthrough season, Pettersen was three up with six to play at the Wegmans but blew it with a series of bad drives and an ill-timed three-putt. With Annika quickly fading away and Pettersen clearly still a work in progress, who is going to challenge Lorena?

2. Golf haters. They lost their saltiest spokesman with the passing of George Carlin, who right now is surely cussing his way through a round in the hereafter.

3. St. Louis fans. The last time they were supposed to see Tiger Woods play was for a WGC in 2001, which was cancelled in the wake of 9/11. Now the city finally gets a FedEx Cup event, and Woods is on the DL. At least they still have Pujols to cheer for, right?

4. Ernie Els. He had already changed swing coaches and sports psychologists this year, and now in the wake of his fatal triple bogey on the back nine on Sunday at Torrey, word is Els has made a caddie change, too. To discover the root of his ills perhaps Els should stop firing people and start looking in the mirror.

5. Zach Johnson. Already dealing with the tragic flooding in his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Johnson had to WD last week due to a strained right wrist. On top of that, he's fallen to 11th in the Ryder Cup standings. Get well soon, Zach.

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