1. Tiger Woods working a gallery rope with Sharpie in hand. Rank this item among the litany of unsolicited advice, but the world No. 1’s reclamation project should start with the rank-and-file and a hearts-and-minds campaign pulled directly from Phil Mickelson’s fan book. Keep it simple: sign, smile, schmooze.
2. Corey Pavin and/or Colin Montgomerie make dubious captain’s pick. Monty has already proven adapt at turning heads and dropping jaws and, thanks to Paul Azinger, Pavin has twice as many picks, which means twice as many chances to screw up.
3. A smooch for the FedEx Cup. So far the season-long champions (Tiger Woods 2007, 2009 and Vijay Singh 2008) have been less than willing to give the silver punch bowl a kiss, but Woods’ self-imposed hiatus and Singh’s health issues will set the stage for a new champion who is not averse to PDA (public displays of affection).
4. First in Tour golf history: Swing coach cans student. As gurus gain their own celebrity it’s bound to happen and if we had to pick a leading candidate our money is on Sergio Garcia, who reportedly started working with putter whisperer Dave Stockton Sr. this offseason.
5. Phil Mickelson blows a lead. All the cosmic tumblers suggest Lefty is primed for a career year, but from such lofty heights come the most high-profile crashes and the man who coined the phrase “I’m such an idiot,” will run afoul the golf gods at least once when it counts in 2010.
6. Rookie wins at major event. The 2009 class was shut out of the winner’s circle but don’t expect a repeat. This year’s crop is too deep and talented to be denied. It may not come at a Grand Slam event, but it will be on a big stage.
7. A flyer. Steve Flesch once claimed to have gone a decade on Tour without hitting a flyer, but the new rule regarding the size and shape of grooves will make slightly buried lies unpredictable and the gallery behind greens dangerous for spectators.
8. U.S. Open ends on Sunday. Following back-to-back Monday finishes at the national championship this year’s outing goes according to script with a 72-hole, Sunday champion and a Woods photo op.
9. AARP-type makes run at Claret Jug. OK, this story shouldn’t prompt a double clutch given the fact that Greg Norman and Tom Watson have made 50, or 60, the new 30 at the game’s oldest championship, but let’s face it, the Old Course is the playground for the old at heart.
10. The United Kingdom outnumbers United States in the top 10 of the World Golf Ranking. Actually, the UK trails the U.S. by just a single player now (4-3) and Ian Poulter (England) is poised to make a move at 12th.