This was a great year for golf. Vijay Singh gave us a terrific story. The shelf life of his victory parade was the perfect thread to a year full of columns or Sprint Pre-Post Game shows. Ditto for Annika Sorenstam. Same goes for Tiger Woods and his quest to return to the winners circle. What was the years greatest moment? Youd be hard pressed to convince me that it wasnt Phil Mickelson at the Masters.
So lets look ahead together to 2005. Lets root for the best story and come up with a way that makes it a year to top 2004. Given the holiday spirit Ive got 12 possible headlines in my stockingin no particular order.
WOODS YOU BELIEVE IT?
Tiger Woods wins the Mercedes Championships, signaling his return. With confidence suddenly booming he wins two more before the Masters and then two majors (British and PGA.) And I firmly believe that Tiger at his best would make Vijay and Ernie and Phil happy and excited about the challenge of seeing how good they really are.
Bill Haas wins three times on the Nationwide Tour earning the instant promotion to the PGA Tour and a chance to tee it up with his Dad, Jay. Keep in mind that Bill has as many as seven sponsors exemptions on the PGA Tour to earn money to crack the Top 125. But wouldnt we like to see them together?
BEAT THE PARENT
Likewise, the family tandem of Kevin and Craig Stadler. You can bet Craig, whos actually exempt on the PGA Tour this year because of his BC Open win of 2003, will play a bit on the PGA Tour for the chance to be with his son. The dream story for each is a Sunday pairing with something at stake. But lets have Kevin win it.
Now that Paula Creamer has an LPGA card, lets have her make some serious noise. In 2004 Annika Sorenstam had her hands full to some degree with the likes of Grace Park and Meg Mallon. If Annika really is intent on leaving in the near future, then let it be Creamer who wows us.
FUTURE IS NOW
How about Michelle Wie winning an LPGA event this year. Not that she needs any pressure, but a Wie win coupled with Creamers emergence would make for some great LPGA promotion.
Its been a while since Charles Howell III sipped the victory beer at the Michelob at Kingsmill for his lone PGA Tour win so lets get Charles going! He is as likeable as they come on Tour. His star fell a bit in 2004 so lets bring it back. After all, America needs some new blood in Cup Competition. So Zach Johnson, Chad Campbell, Bill Haas, Hunter Mahan start racking up the wins.
The Masters was just the beginning for Phil Mickelson. He does what he wasnt able to do last year at the U.S. Open and wins it in 2005. Interesting that this years U.S. Open is back at Pinehurst where Lefty was edged out by Payne Stewart.
GREEN WITH ERNIE
It is about time Ernie Els gets a green jacket. The Big Easy has been as consistent in the majors as anyone. Hes been as close in the Masters as anyone. Last year was tough for Ernie to take. This year he takes home what Im guessing would be about a 46 long.
Lets get Laura Davies the necessary points to find her way into the LPGA Hall of Fame without the need some year for a veterans committee to find her a spot. She doesnt need much so let her catch lightning in a bottle for a week or two, win a major and get what she deserves.
KING DAVID FOR A WEEK
As long as were rooting for the story hereI think it would be great to have David Duval back to some semblance of his former self. A win for Duval would be a win for all those whove lost it and struggled to find it again. It would actually be a nice example to talk to our kids about.
HAILING A NEW CHAMPION
Hale Irwin has been the best the Champions Tour has ever known. Youd be crazy to bet against him staying near the top out there, but how bout a new sheriff? How about Peter Jacobsen winning eight times out there? How about Craig Stadler taking it up yet another notch and winning eight? Look out when Loren Roberts hits 50!
Whoever wins The Big Break II on Tuesday night, lets have them do the show proud. Justin Peters gave it a go but it hasnt yet panned out. Don and Kip have their chance nowso how about making three of the four cuts on the Nationwide Tour and actually contending one week. Now that would be a story! Am I dreaming?
Im sure youve got stories that would be great too. On a personal note Id like to say thanks for the great fun Ive had writing this column in 2004. Your response has been overwhelming and I appreciate your support. This week I officially hit 10 years at TGC. Come January 17 The Golf Channel celebrates the 10 year anniversary of its launch. Its been a great ride and much of all of our success has been because of your support.
Happy Holidays, well do it together again in 2005!
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann