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Who To Watch in 2002

PGA Tour (75x100)Tiger Woods acts; we react. He travels; we follow. He performs; we stand in awe. He grows facial hair; we write about it.
Every move Tiger Woods makes, were watching. So needless to say, well always have one eye fixated on the games greatest player. But as 2002 comes about, there are a host of other players worth keeping in our peripheral.
There are big names like Ernie Els and Vijay Singh, who combined for 15 top-five finishes on the PGA Tour and nearly $6 million in official earnings, but no victories in 2001.
There are David Toms and Retief Goosen ' should they face major expectations in 2002?
Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III ' will they be able to finish what they so often start? Will their titles outnumber their excuses?
Love won Pebble Beach; Mickelson won the Buick Invitational and the Greater Hartford Open. Love finished fifth on the money list; Mickelson finished second. Yet both men could have accomplished so much more in 2001.
Neither won a major championship; Love went 0-for-6 when playing in the final group on Sunday; and Lefty was 2-for-9 when entering the final round within at least two strokes of the lead ' that record includes the Masters, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.
There are questions to be asked of each and every Tour member; questions only they can answer.
How will 17-year-old Ty Tryon fare in the big leagues? His games unquestioned; his mentality, unchallenged.
On the other hand, Notah Begay III is mentally fresh, but how is his physical being? Begay won twice in 1999 and twice more in 2000. But this past year was a disaster, wrought with injury and frustration. Forget about trophies, he missed eight cuts in 12 tries, broke 70 but three times. His last start was the first week of September.
Fred Couples says he wants to compete again. He wants to be a factor. Does he ' at the age of 42 ' still have the physical capacity to do so? And if so, is it really in his heart?
Perhaps he can draw inspiration from John Daly. Daly rose from outside the top 500 in the Official World Golf Ranking in 2001 to the cusp of the top 50. He even won overseas. Can he now do the same in the States?
At the opposite end of the spectrum this past season was Andrew Magee. The 39-year-old dropped completely off the radar screen, missing 16 of 31 cuts in 2001. He failed to record even a single top-20 finish.
Since joining the Tour in 1985, Magee had never finished outside the top 125 on the money list ' until this year, when he finished 180th. The lone highlight of his year was when he beacme the first player in Tour history to ace a par-4. In the first round of the Phoenix Open Magee (playing in the group behind) flukishly bounced his tee shot off Tom Byrum's putter and into the 17th hole.
He will, however, be exempt in 2002, thanks to his ranking on the Tours career money list. The four-time Tour winner is 51st in career earnings, but because Payne Stewart is still inside the top 50 Magee will be able to use his one-time top-50 exemption. Though, another season like this past one and Magee will be back to the Qualifying Tournament for the first time since turning professional in 1984.
Speaking of Q-School, for the second time in three years Gary Nicklaus made his way onto the premiere circuit through the Tours torture test. His father says hell never ' after 10 overall attempts ' have to qualifying again. He says his 32-year-old son is now fully prepared to compete with the elite. Fatherly pride - or an honest appraisal from the Greatest of All Time?
These are just some of the many questions just waiting to be answered on the PGA Tour in 2002.