Almost Too Close to Call


Its primary season in American politics. Barack trounced Hillary in Iowa last week. And Huckabee thumped Mitt on the Republican side. Our next President? Your guess is as good as mine.
Now for some early returns from the 2008 PGA TOUR season, one week old after the pulsating Sunday conclusion of the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii:
  • Daniel Chopra, the press guides say, is fluent in three languages'English, Swedish and Hindi. For 72 holes last week he was also fluent in Hawaiian Bermuda, making more long putts than anybody else in the field on the famously illegible greens of Kapaluas Plantation Course. Steve Stricker arrived on Maui as the reigning two-time Comeback Player of the Year, a bit of a left-handed compliment and an award virtually impossible to capture three straight years. Chopra will be coming back to this event next year because he beat Stricker on the fourth hole of a sudden death playoff. The victory also gets Chopra an invitation to his first Masters and into the discussion for the European Ryder Cup team. Stricker will have to win elsewhere in 08 to get his 2009 ticket punched for Kapalua.
  • Those pictures from Maui (particularly if you are fortunate enough to have access to HD television) look soooo good in January (particularly if you live, or have lived, in the Northeast, Midwest or anywhere else in the States where there is snow on the ground or rain in the air).
  • Its unfair to call Boo Weekly dumb. But its not unfair to say he was dumb when he forget to take those two bullets out of his carry-on bag before he got to airport security.
  • More and more traditionalists'Nick Faldo is the latest'are weighing in with criticism of the Stack and Tilt golf swing. And to be sure, the returns wont be in until five or 10 years from now when the predicted back injuries are supposed to surface. But the fact of the matter is before Mike Weir started working with Stack and Tilt proprietors Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, a terrific career was beginning to stall. Now Weir, who beat Woods in a Presidents Cup singles match and won in Arizona late last year, is in full flight again. Yes, Weir failed to close the deal Sunday at Kapalua after holding the 54-hole lead. But he arrived admittedly underpracticed and playing three rounds as well as he did was an indicator of good things to come. This time around, two bogeys on the first four holes Sunday undid him at Kapalua and led to a solo fourth.
  • When you start thinking about all the names Paul Azinger will have to choose from with his four captains selections for the American Ryder Cup team later this year (add Jonathan Byrd and Brandt Snedeker to a crowded list that already includes Hunter Mahan, who fired a 9-under 64 Sunday) you almost wonder whether 'Zinger might end up wishing he had only two selections. Choosing four could turn out to be tougher than selecting two and there is massive potential for the second-guessers to have a field day. But, you know what? Azinger can handle the heat.
  • Rory Sabbatini ducks out of the last round of Tigers Target World Challenge in December. His handlers cite shin splints. Then Sabbatini shows up in Hawaii training and practicing several weeks before the Mercedes. Then the normally loquacious Sabbatini dummies up for the week with reporters. Then he goes out and finishes an indifferent 17th in a 31-player field. What will Rory do next?.
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  • Full Coverage - Mercedes-Benz Championship