Ten bold predictions for 2011
Tiger Woods will win again (duh)
The 72nd PGA Tour victory is always the most elusive.
How else to explain Tiger Woods, who hasn't won on Tour since the BMW Championship (71) in September '09, or anywhere since the 2009 Aussie Masters, right before his infamous Thanksgiving car crash?
Oh, yeah, maybe it's because our favorite overachiever was infamously busy during his slump. He left the voice mail heard 'round the Net, stonewalled the cops, seemed to drop off the face of the earth, came back, got dumped by his swing coach, got divorced and finally hooked up with another swing coach.
Somehow, in the midst of all that turmoil, Woods showed glimpses of his new swing in full flower, but found no consistency until he lost to Graeme McDowell in a one-hole playoff at the Chevron World Challenge, a glorified exhibition, in December.
He hit some scratchy shots, but Woods was good enough over 73 holes to prompt Steve Williams, his caddie, to tell the Associated Press, "I'm pretty confident when the new year starts that Tiger will be fully ingrained with this new swing."
He's not the only one.
The press will reveal 'Tiger's new gal pal'
... at least once a month. One of the "bombshell pix" will turn out to be a really fuzzy picture of Kultida.
The press will go back to zinging Colin Montgomerie
I'll start. Winning Ryder captains deserve their hosannas, and you had to love Monty's glib turns behind the microphone, but his self-congratulation has become unintentionally hilarious.
In December, the great Scot told a gathering that before the start of play he secretly had Team Europe's five-foot beds taken out of their hotel rooms and replaced with six-foot beds.
Um, okay, but what's that got to do with the price of tea in China?
Me, I chalk up Europe's half-point win to brave Monty's prescient choice of team-bathroom urinal cakes.
The LPGA (or an LPGA player) will do something rash
Beset by parity and struggling to break out of the cluttered sports landscape, the distaff tour is due for a shakeup. Maybe it will change networks, move its headquarters from Florida to South Korea, and/or find a way to include the Kardashian sisters.
Absent any of those things, the tour is in need of a five- or six-win season by Michelle Wie, which just isn't going to happen while she's still going to college, and may never happen given the regularity with which she's been sidelined by aches and pains.
Shark Shootout winners will cop at least one major
Okay, so the Shootout, hosted by Greg Norman in Naples, Fla., is not exactly a major championship test, what with the best-ball, scramble and Argentine-tango formats (okay, I made that last one up, I think). But there's something about 2010 winners Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter that makes you think big.
What type of course suits Johnson? The kind with 18 holes and grass. The PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, where Phil Mickelson nearly won the PGA in 2001, ought to suit him fine. Call it Glory's Last Mulligan.
Poulter is also on the verge of a breakthrough. Just as Mark O'Meara was inspired by Woods in '98, Poulter will be helped by having had a front-row seat for pal Graeme McDowell's dream-sequence of a year. As Poults and a certain shoe company like to say: Impossible is nothing.
The Tour will tweak the FedEx Cup math — again
It happens almost every year: the PGA Tour brass in Ponte Vedra, Fla., start fiddling with points and volatility in an effort to get the circuit's young endgame just right. A humble suggestion: Add 20 or so players to the 30-man Tour Championship.
The record for low 72-hole score will fall, one way or another
Tommy Armour III shot 254 at the 2003 Valero Texas Open, the lowest 72-hole total in the history of the PGA Tour.
Ernie Els shot 31-under to win the '03 Mercedes (Hyundai) Championship, the lowest 72-hole score in relation to par.
Those records look doomed after a 2010 in which Stuart Appleby and Paul Goydos shot 59 in a span of less than a month; Steve Stricker broke the record for low 54-hole score and low 54-hole score in relation to par (John Deere); and several promising players (Jason Day, Matteo Manassero, Rory McIlroy) broke out.
Anthony Kim will bounce back with a W
After leaving Oklahoma early, he burst onto the Tour with a T2 at the 2006 Valero Texas Open, which he later admitted lulled him to sleep. Kim stopped practicing and slumped in 2007.
He hit the range, and behold, had a monster 2008: eight top-10 finishes, wins at the Wachovia and AT&T National, and a lead role for the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team in Louisville, Ky.
Given his ho-hum 2009 and injury-plagued 2010, when a left thumb injury knocked him out for three months and wrecked his summer, Kim is poised for a breakout 2011.
. . .and that win will come at the Masters
Crazy talk? Kim holds the record for birdies in a round at Augusta (11, 2009) and finished third with a bum thumb last April. This time he'll get both arms in the jacket. You heard it here first.
A big-name American will skip the Presidents Cup
Let's see: It's in far-away Melbourne, which was the site of America's only P-Cup loss, in 1998, and the 2001 WGC-Accenture Match Play, which a number of Americans skipped.
And the 2011 Presidents Cup matches don't start until Nov. 17, when most big-name Yanks are well into their off-season, contemplating free-range turkeys, not swing planes.
Somebody's gonna pull a hammy. I can feel it.