Tiger Woods’ rivals for 2009

1 of 9 Simon Bruty/SI
While He Was Out ... When Tiger emerges from hibernation in 2009, he'll face a new world order. Here's who could spoil his welcome-back party The Tiger Woods Advisory System Severe: Bring It, T-Dub High: Cautiously Confident Elevated: Eager Yet Anxious Guarded: Half Deflated Low: [email protected]%#&!, Tiger's Back!
2 of 9 Robert Beck/SI
Padraig Harrington No player capitalized on Tiger's absence more than Harrington. He overcame howling wind and a resurgent Shark to claim his second-straight Claret Jug and rebounded from a slow start to win the PGA. At 37, he has developed a nose for the finish line. The closer he is to Sunday afternoon in a major, the more likely he is to hole putts. Sound like anyone you know? Threat level: Severe
3 of 9 Robert Seale/SI
Anthony Kim While Woods was away Kim, 23, won the AT&T National (a tournament started by Tiger) for his second W of 2008. That was nice, but what really might pay dividends is Kim's 2-1-1 mark in the Ryder Cup at Valhalla. His sterling play under intense pressure was a shot of pure confidence, as evidenced by Kim's opening-round 64 at the Tour Championship just four days after Team USA's triumph. Threat level: Severe
4 of 9 Kohjiro Kinno/SI
Phil Mickelson Lefty went 0-for-7 sans Tiger, but golf's a fickle game, and Mickelson's putting is even more so. Most encouraging were the flashes of the old Mickelson on display at Valhalla, where he at times carried partner Kim. The 2007 Deutsche Bank, where Lefty beat Woods eye to eye, was not as long ago as it seems. Threat level: Elevated
5 of 9 Fred Vuich/SI
Vijay Singh After Harrington, Singh, who turns 46 in February, made the most of Tiger's sabbatical with three Ws. Two were in consecutive weeks to start the FedEx Cup playoffs, thus making the rest of the playoffs must-flee TV. Can Singh keep up the pace and take Tiger's No. 1 ranking? He's the only guy who's done it before. Threat level: Elevated
6 of 9 Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Chez Reavie Or some other long shot like him. Reavie won the RBC Canadian Open, and is one of a cavalcade of fast-rising pros from Scottsdale, Ariz. Trouble is, Tiger probably thinks Chez Reavie is a restaurant, not a golfer. Other first-time winners in the No-Tiger Era not on Tiger's radar: Parker McLachlin, Richard S. Johnson and Marc Turnesa. Threat level: Low
7 of 9 Harry How/SI
Kenny Perry The 48-year-old Perry is coming off a remarkable three-win season in which he also beat Henrik Stenson in Ryder Cup singles. Perry knows how to ride a hot streak like few others, and the golf ball doesn't know how old you are. One caveat: He'll have to actually play in some majors to have a chance of winning one. Threat level: Guarded
8 of 9 Kohjiro Kinno/SI
Sergio Garcia El Nino has perfected the art of the near miss. Saddled with a history of cracking in Tiger's presence, he couldn't get it done against Harrington (PGA), Singh (Barclays), Kim (Ryder Cup) or Villegas (Tour Championship). Maybe he can get Tiger to wear a Paul Goydos mask... Threat level: Elevated
9 of 9 Fred Vuich/SI
Camilo Villegas He's young, brash, drives the ladies wild and won the BMW Championship. Or he drives a BMW and wins the ladies. We can never get that straight. He looks like the type of guy who would have stars in his eyes playing with Woods, but if he can get it done playing with Baby Tiger (Kim) at the Tour Championship, maybe the Colombian Crusher is ready. Threat level: HighMore from GOLF.com • 2009 PGA Tour Preview • 2008 Year in Review • Woods' biggest rivals • Tiger Tracker: The latest news on Tiger Woods