1. British Open. The Old Course. That’s it. Need more? OK, because golf has been played at St. Andrews since man thought the world was flat and because there is nothing more spiritual for a golfer than a trip to Old Tom Morris’ grave and because the Dunvegan Hotel, less than a pitching wedge from the 18th green, is the best place in the world to have a pint and watch the old world go by.
2. U.S. Open. Pebble Beach Opens are always memorable, from Woods’ 15-stroke historic romp to Tom Watson’s heroics, and U.S. Golf Association setup man Mike Davis has a few twists planned that should make the Pacific Coast gem more memorable than ever.
3. WGC-CA Championship. A long-time golf club executive recently figured the first mutterings of discord in regard to this year’s new rule governing grooves would be heard at Doral because of the layout’s hard greens and wispy Bermuda grass rough. As an added bonus, there are those who are quietly predicting the south Florida stop could be Woods’ first Tour start.
4. San Diego Open. The SoCal staple has no sponsor and likely will not have Woods around for the proceedings for the second consecutive year, but Torrey Pines’ North Course is one of the most enjoyable and scenic walks on Tour and the event will probably be the 2010 debut for Phil Mickelson, who appears poised for a breakout season even by Lefty’s lofty standards.
5. Ryder Cup. The Europeans will be keen to reclaim Samual Ryder’s chalice on home soil and that squad will likely be packed with up-and-coming European talent (Rory McIlroy, Ross Fisher, Oliver Wilson, Francesco Molinari, et al). And because European skipper Colin Montgomerie will provide plenty of bulletin board fodder for both team rooms.
6. The Barclays. After last year’s experiment at Liberty National, a Bronx putt-putt course would be an upgrade, but the move back to Ridgewood in
7. Heritage. The Lowcountry tradition is always a treat after a long, tense week at Augusta National, but the event is struggling to find a title sponsor and while we’re hoping for the best we should savor the views of Calibogue Sound while we can. There’s also a two-in-three chance Boo Weekley will win given his recent history at
8. PGA Championship. Neither the venue (Whistling Straits) nor recent champions (Y.E. Yang) suggest something special in the making, but if somehow all the stars align properly in the golf universe Woods could arrive in Wisconsin playing for the single-season Grand Slam and major No. 18 to tie Jack Nicklaus’ record. Farfetched? Maybe, but in January anything is possible.
9. Players Championship. Forget the fifth major debate, the move to May has helped course conditions and fan interest and the diversity of recent champions is a testament to the quality of the test. Besides the 17th holes always produces drama, contrived or otherwise.