Its impossible to figure on a rock solid challenger to Tiger. Phil Mickelson for example might step forward. But then again he might miss the cut.
Justin Leonard could well contend. Or miss the cut. Same for Ernie.
David Duval could well make a run, but one would be incredibly surprised if he
missed the cut.
In any event, who are the most interesting figures coming in not named Tiger?
Start with Phil Mickelson. He began the season cashing a nearly half million dollar, preseason bet on the Baltimore Ravens winning the Super Bowl. He gambled and lost with driver off the deck at Pebble. Threw a six to beat Frank Lickliters seven at San Diego. He thereafter tried and failed at Bay Hill, Bellsouth, Augusta, New Orleans and Colonial. The latter three were most disappointing and perhaps a little disturbing for the manner in which Lefty came unglued. But if its true that hes consistently falling short, its also true that hes consistently contending. Hes probably the only challenger about whom you could say that. Davis Love IIIs season began with similar promise only to have arrived at this point in a bit of disharmony. Love could easily have pulled off the California triple. He won Pebble, went to San Diego and lost in the three-man playoff ultimately won by Mickelson. And then he had Riviera under control before some loose irons late in the game killed his chances. His eastern swings been terribly disappointing. He missed cut at the Masters and then aggravated a neck and back injury that has sidelined him for the better part of a month. Davis is 37 and in danger of finishing a career with one major when most felt hed be a three-major guy.
Sergio Garcia invites some attention. After a tumultuous year or so in which Sergio came to be viewed as petulant, perhaps even overrated, the young Spaniard finally broke through in the U.S. with a win at the Colonial. He backed that up with a tie for second at The Memorial. Granted he finished seven back of Tiger, but he seems to be maturing at the ripe old age of 21. And who doesnt want to see Sergio push Tiger like he did at Medinah in 1999?
We could go on with others players. And its never terribly dull musing over potential longshots and challengers. But until one not named Tiger proves he can carry the day, we dont hold out much hope that all of this discussion is but idle talk or printed words filling space.