The Difficulty of Being Earnest

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The 2008 PGA TOUR season began in earnest last week in Maui. Almost.
 
Some players (see Stephen Ames) treated the tournament like a nuisance. This is a family vacation, he said. Golf is getting in the way.
 
Without playing a practice round, Ames finished solo third and walked away with $410,000. What a terrible inconvenience.
 
Some players (see Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Padraig Harrington) didnt bother showing up at all, which didnt seem to bother some in the 31-man field (see Mark Calcavecchia).
 
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson aren't here, so that increases your chances of winning greatly, said Calc, who ultimately finished tied for 10th.
 
More upsetting to some players (see Joe Ogilvie) was the fact that many of the PGA TOURs top brass were absent (see Tim Finchem and Co.).
 
If I was commissioner, Ogilvie, a PGA TOUR policy board member, said, Id be here.
 
Only eight days into the new year and weve already got one winner and one mild controversy.
 
For many (see Q-school and Nationwide Tour grads), the season really begins this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii. For many others (see casual fans), the season wont begin until two weeks hereafter. Thats when Tiger and Phil will make their 2008 debuts at the Buick Invitational.
 
While Tiger once again ruined his chance to win the perfect attendance award on TOUR, he did manage to have his mug seen at a couple of Orlando Magic basketball games during Mercedes-Benz week, and his voice heard in an article on his Web site.
 
As the story goes, Tiger is in the best shape of his life, hes happier than ever with his young daughter in his life, and hes looking forward to making life downright miserable for everyone else on TOUR.
 
Particularly revealing was the last line in the Web story, in which Tiger was quoted as saying, I think its easily within reason.
 
It is the single season Grand Slam. And while we media types just love to talk about such a possibility, unless prompted, Tiger never really has ' at least hes never said anything like, its easily within reason.
 
Woods isnt much for making predictions. He knows what hes capable of doing and he knows that you know what hes capable of doing. He doesnt feel the need to throw himself out there like that very often ' which means if hes actually talking publicly about winning all four major championships in the same season then he must feel that hes playing better than ever.
 
Tigers performance at the Target World Challenge was probably a good indicator of that. After taking off his longest break ever from competition, he returned to action and promptly won his own tournament.
 
Woods, according to his Web site, will reunite with swing coach Hank Haney this week before he eventually heads to San Diego, where he is the three-time defending champion.
 
Torrey Pines, home to the Buick Invitational, will also play host to this years U.S. Open. That gives Tiger a tremendous shot at winning the first two legs of the Grand Slam, seeing as hes a four-time Masters champion and a five-time winner on Torrey Pines South.
 
The larger obstacles will come in the final two hurdles, the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. Woods finished third in the 98 Open at Birkdale, the one time hes played that venue during a major championship. Oakland Hills hosted the 2004 Ryder Cup -- where none of the Americans fared very well -- but hasn't hosted a major since the 1996 U.S. Open, when Woods tied for 82nd.
 
Discussing a player winning all four majors in the same calendar year is utter nonsense. Unless that player is Tiger Woods, in which case its utterly possible.
 
With Tigers unequaled and unimaginable talent, the Grand Slam is always within reach ' at least in January. But there wont be anything easy about obtaining it come August.
 
Tiger finished runner-up last year at the Masters and again at the U.S. Open. He then was a distant 12th at the British, before avoiding a major shutout with a triumph at the PGA.
 
Tiger contends in the majority of the majors. But he doesnt win them all. And I dont think hell sweep all four in 2008. More than anything, the margin for error in accomplishing such a feat is just too small.
 
Of course, this is Tiger Woods of which we speak. And he sure does seem pretty confident in his abilities at the moment so, at the moment, I say that he will NOT win the Grand Slam in 2008.
 
But I dont say so in earnest.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Mercedes-Benz Championship
  • Full Coverage - Sony Open in Hawaii