1. Zach Johnson. I don’t care what the venue is or who else is in the field, closing 62-64 for a victory is pretty damn macho. Welcome back, Zach.
2. The Fall Series. We love to bag on the very concept of these also-ran tourneys, but Johnson is just the latest standout winner. Now this week brings the star power of Justin Timberlake and a better-than-usual field at the revamped Vegas stop. Who would have guessed the Fall Series would work out better than the FedEx Cup?
3. Phil. They didn’t give him any memorable lines, but an Entourage walk-on is still pretty cool, especially coming on the heels of Tiger’s cringe-inducing Today interview. Not quite payback for Bethpage, but close.
4. Couch potatoes. Beginning next year, the Golf Channel will televise up to two and half hours more live golf early on the weekends and run prime-time replays of the network telecasts. Because, you know, there’s not enough golf on TV as it is.
5. The Car Park champion. Like the rest of the golf world, the Hot List has been saddened by the news of Seve Ballesteros’s brain tumor, but all the tributes and testimonials that have been pouring in are a needed reminder of Seve’s greatness, charisma and flamboyance. Here’s hoping golf’s all-time magician has one more save in him.
1. Tiger. He announced his third golf course design project, and once again it’s an exclusive development for the mega-rich. You’d think a middle-class kid who grew up on scruffy public courses might want to give something back to the game that has given him so much.
2. Nick Price. Still winless as a geezer, he gave away the Senior Players with a sloppy Sunday that included a missed two-footer down the stretch. On the bright side, I don’t think Price cares enough to be too bothered by it all.
3. Rory Sabbatini. One of last year’s keynote players has been a non-factor for all of ’08, and his ill play continued with a Sunday blowup at the Texas Open. And, thanks to A.K., Rory can’t even claim the Tour’s best belt buckles anymore.
4. The Grand Slam of Golf. It begins today, with a quartet featuring two guys who actually won majors in ’08!
5. Xenophobes. In-Kyung Kim’s spectacular birdie-birdie finish to win the Longs Drugs was not as momentous as her victory speech, when the 20-year-old Korean drew cheers and laughs with her charmingly imperfect English. It was the effort that mattered, not the syntax.