I Pick Winners; I Don’t Say When

I must have bumped my head on a log and gone back in time.

How else to explain it? I opened GOLF.com this morning and …. whaaa? John Cook? Helen Alfredsson? Tell me I haven’t been wormholed back to the early nineties.

John Cook, you see, was the American with blonde bangs who nearly stole the 1992 British Open from Nick Faldo. (See my contemporaneous account in the SI Vault.) Helen Alfredsson was the Swedish siren who won the 1993 Kraft Nabisco Championship, leading us to believe she was going to be the next Annika Sorenstam, before we had even heard of Annika Sorenstam.

I was high on both of them. If you had put me on a straight-backed chair under a bright light, I would have told you that Cook and Alfredsson would win a half-dozen majors between them. I saw Cook hang with Faldo at Muirfield, manufacturing shots as if he had been born on a links. I was so impressed that I made him my default pick to win every major for the rest of the decade. (A newspaper once printed that I had picked Cook to win the U.S. Open, failing to notice – as had I — that Cook was not in the field.)

Alfredsson? She was such a firecracker that I spent the weekend of the 1993 U.S. Women’s Open at Crooked Stick believing that her second major win of the season might land her on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But alas, Helen faded on Sunday and finished a stroke behind a very surprised Lauri Merten. (Although not as surprised as I was; my slightly-bent Crooked Stick story is also in the Vault.)

Well, I was right about Tiger Woods. And if this is, indeed, 2008, and if Cook, 51, has just won his second Champions Tour event, and if Alfredsson, 43, has just won her second LPGA tournament of the year, there may still be hope for an old golf writer.

So I’m picking John Cook to win the 2009 Masters and Helen Alfredsson to win the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

It’s all about perseverance.