Predicting 2006 The Future is Now

By Brian HewittDecember 19, 2005, 5:00 pm
The New Year will be upon us quicker than Reggie Bushs first step.
So its that time again. Time to fearlessly predict the future. Or, at least, to fearlessly predict what will transpire in 2006 in the world of golf.
Im going way out on a limb and predicting that in 2006:
  • Aussies Greg Norman and Mark Hensby wont play any practice rounds together. They wont go fishing together. They wont be invited to any of the same parties. The latter means, by the way, that Hensbys going to miss a lot of good parties.
  • The U.S. will win the 36th Ryder Cup matches, scheduled for Ireland in September, in a rout. You have to go all the way back to 1981 in England to find a Ryder Cup the Americans won by more than two points. That makes this a contrarian pick.
  • Tiger Woods will announce on his website that his wife, Elin, is great with child. This is a prediction, by the way, not a news item.
  • Kevin Na will win on the PGA Tour at the tender age of 22. Big deal. Gene Sarazen won three times, including two majors, when he was 20 years old.
  • Sean OHair and his father will not reconcile. But the media will get past the idea that it must re-write the details of their fractured relationship every time OHair gets to another city.
  • Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, whose combined ages equal that of Jay Haas, will all win on the LPGA Tour.
  • Jay Haas will win on the Champions Tour. His son, Bill, will contend in a major.
  • Left-handed rookie Bubba Watson, from Bagdad, Fl., will lead the PGA Tour in driving distance. He will lead the Tour in oohs. He will lead the Tour in aahs. And he will, if he is lucky, get an education in course management while keeping his card.
  • Ben Crane will speed up his pace of play. But not enough to satisfy all his lodge brothers on Tour.
  • Other PGA Tour players you shouldnt be surprised to see win again include Bart Bryant, Lucas Glover and Jason Gore.
  • Nor should you be surprised to see Colin Montgomerie win for the first time, officially, in the States.
  • Swedens Henrik Stenson, the best player almost nobodys ever heard of, will make (and star on) Europes Ryder Cup team.
  • Ernie Els will win the Masters. But nobody will ask him to do a calendar.
  • An over par score will win the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. And somewhere, a retired Tom Meeks will smile.
  • The Beatles, and their Liverpudlian roots, will be the most tortured feature story of the year when the media arrives at Royal Liverpool in England for the Open Championship. Beatlemania and Tigermania will reach a frothy head when a photo-opping Woods hits drivers off the deck of a ferry crossing the Mersey while Gerry and the Pacemakers croon in the background.
    And then, when December 31, 2006 rolls around, I will saw off that limb behind me.
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

    Getty Images

    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

    Getty Images

    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

    Getty Images

    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.