You know the drill, oversized pear drops in New York’s Time Square, “Auld Lang Syne” echoes from Bethpage to Bandon Dunes and we promise to reinvent ourselves for the new calendar.
Whatever the perceived shortcoming, Jan. 1 is the tonic, something of a spring training for a hopeful soul, so we open 2012 with a list of New Year’s wants and needs.
Luke Donald. A 2011 almanac and ear muffs. The race is on for No. 1 with Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods all aligned to overtake the Englishman atop the world heap; but all of those scenarios assume Donald will not play like he did in ’11. For those who say Donald doesn’t hit the ball far or straight enough we give you one statistic – five. That’s how many cuts he’s missed in his last 54 worldwide starts.
Lexi Thompson. Tempered expectations. The phenom earned her way onto the LPGA and is being billed as the next great American player. Powerful stuff, but it’s not often one can over promise and over deliver, and it’s not in Thompson’s best interest to try.
Mike Davis. Short-term memory and a lawnmower. After the field torched Congressional last year there is a feeling of dread among players that the U.S. Golf Association will strike back in June when the national championship returns to The Olympic Club.
Rory McIlroy. A push fade when he needs it at Augusta National. That rebound victory at the U.S. Open eased the pain of his Masters miscue, but he will be haunted by that Sunday swoon until he slips into the green jacket that got away.
Phil Mickelson. An impromptu, and wildly uncharacteristic, ban of long putters by the USGA and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. Of all of Lefty’s experiments – no driver at the 2008 U.S. Open, two drivers at Augusta National – his late-season switch to a belly putter never added up. You don’t fix one of golf’s most creative short games with a crutch.
Bud Cauley. Twenty extra pounds. Conservatively listed at 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, the rookie has all the tools to be a Tour staple sans a little more mass.
Andrew “Chubby” Chandler. Some stability to go along with a year’s supply of Dramamine and a few airbags. After the year the European uber manager had – his clients won the first three majors in ’11 but his agency lost two players, Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy, late in the year – a few quiet nights would be nice.
Hunter Mahan. A half stroke a side. The difference between “H,” who ranked 17th in scoring average (69.90), and No. 1 Luke Donald is 1.04. To a Tour type that may sound like an eternity, but if anyone has the raw skills to pull it off it is Mahan.
Kyle Stanley. Improved grooming. One of the game’s most refreshing up-and-comers made it to the third round of the FedEx Cup playoffs as a rookie but cold topped his attempt at a “playoff beard.”
Sandy Lyle. No filter. Next year’s World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony may be the closest thing the HOF has to a can’t-miss event with a class that includes Peter Alliss, Phil Mickelson and golf writing legend Dan Jenkins. The always outspoken Lyle, however, may have the most to say in May.
Rees Jones. A Kevlar vest and thicker skin to withstand another barrage of slings and arrows from players. The affable “Open Doctor” was widely criticized for his handiwork at Cog Hill and Congressional last year and unless Mickelson comes down with a severe case of laryngitis at Torrey Pines one should expect the metaphorical beatings to continue until morale improves.
Tiger Woods. An official win of any kind and a 12-month moratorium on MRIs. The one-time Teflon kid has spent more time in the doctor’s office than a hypochondriacal octogenarian the last two years. The mind and swing are willing; the rest is up to the body.
Tim Finchem. The wisdom of Jerry Seinfeld. The commish sidestepped an ailing economy, landed a new TV deal and staved off the demise of Tour stops in Palm Springs, Calif., and Hilton Head Island, S.C. It may be time to leave them wanting more, as the comedian once reasoned.
Stevie Williams. The serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know when to shuddup.