Predictions are a Risky Business in Golf

By Associated PressJanuary 1, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- To listen to Zach Johnson and Paul Goydos is to be reminded that golf always holds a few surprises.
Johnson was asked to go back one year and rank the majors in order of which he was most likely to win. He would have put the Masters last on his list, and it still seems surreal to have a green jacket in his closet.
Goydos won the Bay Hill Invitational in 1996 and didn't win another PGA TOUR event until the Sony Open last year. He returned to the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship for the first time in 11 years, during which time Tiger Woods turned pro and won 61 times.
'If you would have told me when I won that from '97 through '07 that some guy was going to win 60 times, I would say that you're out of your mind,' Goydos said. 'There's just no way. That's not going to happen.'
Predictions can be a dangerous business, especially in golf, and there's no telling how 2008 is going to unfold.
The new season begins Thursday at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, the earliest start on the PGA TOUR since 2002, and there's a chance history could repeat itself. It was in 2002 that Woods won the first two legs of the Grand Slam, and that's a possibility considering the U.S. Open will be held this year at Torrey Pines, where Woods has won five times.
Or maybe not. That also was the year Ty Tryon was on the PGA TOUR, no one conceived of women playing on men's tours and the Ryder Cup was still closely contested.
Gazing into the crystal ball, here's one timeline of what might happen in 2008:
Jan. 6 -- Stephen Ames, feeling right at home after buying a time share at Kapalua, wins the Mercedes-Benz Championship for his second straight PGA TOUR victory, leaving him nine short of Byron Nelson's record.
Jan. 15 -- Roger Clemens attends a voluntary meeting at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on the tour's anti-doping policy and is relieved to learn drug testing doesn't start until July 8 -- and then only for golfers.
Jan. 27 -- For the fourth straight year, Tiger Woods opens his season with a victory in the Buick Invitational. He wins by 15 shots in a tuneup for the U.S. Open.
Jan. 28 -- The PGA TOUR runs its first FedEx Cup commercial, sticking with the theme, 'Who will be the first to kiss the cup?'
Feb. 28 -- John Daly withdraws from the Honda Classic.
April 6 -- Davis Love III birdies the last two holes to win the Shell Houston Open and qualify for the Masters.
April 13 -- Tiger Woods wins the Masters by one shot over Love.
April 14 -- The PGA TOUR runs its second FedEx Cup commercial, noting the cup still hasn't been kissed.
April 20 -- Ernie Els wins the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head, his first PGA TOUR victory on U.S. soil in nearly four years.
May 11 -- Phil Mickelson becomes the first player to win back-to-back years at THE PLAYERS Championship. He calls for a tour vote to make THE PLAYERS a major, but the vote against is 241-2. Mickelson and Love cast the only votes in favor.
June 12 -- The first round of the U.S. Open is postponed because of fog.
June 13 -- Half the field doesn't start the first round of the U.S. Open, which again is delayed by fog.
June 14 -- Vijay Singh is disqualified from the U.S. Open after getting stuck in traffic and missing his tee time.
June 18 -- The U.S. Open concludes on Wednesday when Woods beats Steve Stricker by 15 shots in an 18-hole playoff.
July 6 -- Rory Sabbatini wins the AT&T National at Congressional, then announces he is donating the $1.08 million winner's check to help build the new Tiger Woods Learning Center.
July 8 -- Sabbatini is the first player tested for drugs.
July 19 -- Woods is in the second-to-last group in the third round at Royal Birkdale when a vicious wind off the Irish Sea turns the British Open upside down. He birdies the last hole to break 80.
July 20 -- Woods closes with 62 to win the British Open by one shot over Stricker, setting a major championship scoring record and winning from behind for the first time in a major.
Aug. 3 -- Fifty columnists change travel plans from Beijing to Detroit to cover Woods' bid for the Grand Slam.
Aug. 7 -- Mickelson, who already has won a career-high five times on tour, is disqualified from the PGA Championship when he shows up Thursday on the first tee of the other course at Oakland Hills.
Aug. 10 -- Woods birdies the last four holes, but finishes one shot behind Stricker in the PGA Championship.
Aug. 21 -- The PGA TOUR Playoffs begins at The Barclays. Woods decides to take that week off.
Sept. 21 -- Motivated by the Americans having four captain's picks, Europe wins the Ryder Cup, 18 1/2 -9 1/2 .
Sept. 28 -- Woods wins the FedEx Cup in a final-round duel over Stricker. PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem again reminds Woods that the cup has never been kissed. And it still isn't.
Sept. 29 -- Finchem is tested for drugs.
Oct. 14 -- Stricker wins the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda against three alternates when Woods declines to play.
Nov. 11 -- Fred Couples is named Ryder Cup captain and announces Michael Jordan and Robin Williams as his assistants.
Nov. 30 -- Having missed the last six months with a sore back, Couples recovers and wins the Skins Game.
Dec. 16 -- Stricker finishes the year at No. 2 in the world and is voted comeback player of the year for the third straight time.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

    LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

    View this post on Instagram

    Finally got it down lol

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

    Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

    View this post on Instagram

    How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

    A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

    If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

    Getty Images

    Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

    By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

    In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

    “Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

    Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).

    And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 

    FILM 1

    Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

    Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 

    FILM 2

    Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

    The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 

    FILM 3

    Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

    In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.

    Getty Images

    Pepperell likely sews up Masters invite via OWGR

    By Will GrayOctober 15, 2018, 2:13 pm

    Eddie Pepperell received a trophy for his win Sunday at the British Masters, but another prize will be coming in the mail at the end of the year.

    Pepperell held on to win by two shots at rainy Walton Heath, giving him his second win of the year to go along with a pair of runner-ups. The Englishman started the year ranked No. 133 in the world and was as low as 513th in May 2017. But with the win, Pepperell jumped 17 spots to a career-best 33rd in the latest world rankings.

    It means that Pepperell, who finished T-6 at The Open while fighting a hangover in the final round, is in line to make his Masters debut next spring, as the top 50 in the world rankings at the end of the calendar year become exempt into the season's first major.

    Updated Official World Golf Ranking

    Another player now in the mix for that top-50 exemption is Emiliano Grillo, who went from 62nd to 49th with a T-2 finish at the PGA Tour's CIMB Classic. Grillo has played in two Masters but missed this year's event. Marc Leishman moved up eight spots to No. 16 with his win in Malaysia, while T-2s result moved Chesson Hadley from 75th to 60th and Bronson Burgoon from 162nd to 102nd.

    There were no changes among the top 10 in the latest rankings, with Dustin Johnson still ahead of Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy. Francesco Molinari remains in sixth, with Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth rounding out the top 10.

    Both Koepka and Thomas are in the field at this week's CJ Cup in South Korea, where they will have an opportunity to overtake Johnson for world No. 1.

    With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods stayed at No. 13 for another week.

    Getty Images

    USGA, R&A unveil new limits on green books

    By Rex HoggardOctober 15, 2018, 1:53 pm

    Following a six-week feedback period, the USGA and R&A unveiled a new interpretation of the Rules of Golf and the use of green-reading materials on Monday.

    The interpretation limits the size and scale of putting green books and any electronic or digital materials that a player may use to assist with green reading.

    “We’re thankful for everyone’s willingness to provide feedback as we worked through the process of identifying a clear interpretation that protects the essential skill of reading a green, while still allowing for information that helps golfers enjoy the game,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior managing director of governance.

    Players will be allowed to continue to use green-reading books beginning in 2019, but the new interpretation will limit images of greens to a scale of 3/8 inch to 5 yards (1:480), and books can be no larger than 4 1/4 inches by 7 inches (pocket-sized). The interpretation also bans the use of magnification devices beyond normal prescription glasses.

    The USGA and R&A will allow for hand-drawn notes in green books as long as those notes are written by the player or their caddie. The rule makers also dropped a proposal that would have limited the minimum slope to four percent in green-reading material.

    “These latest modifications provide very practical changes that make the interpretation easier to understand and apply in the field,” Pagel said.