Wednesday, January 2, 2008
The 2008 PGA Tour season revealed
By Bob Smiley Special to ESPN.com
Unlike other writers, making predictions about the upcoming PGA Tour season is not something I take lightly. After all, to be truly accurate with your prophecies takes more than just a hunch. It involves focus, passion and -- above all else -- an ability to make contact with that dangerous corner of the spiritual realm that controls professional sports.
So it was with total sobriety (all right, there was some spiked eggnog in play) that I peered into the most mystical of golf balls, the Volvik Crystal, and began to see visions of golf's biggest news stories in 2008. These might seem crazy, even absurd, but mark my words -- all of this will happen on the PGA Tour in 2008 or my name isn't Jason Sobel. [Editor's note: His name is not Jason Sobel.]
Like most New England-based athletes, Quigley could have a big year in store.
• Former President Clinton will talk Tiger into letting Hillary hit the opening drive at the AT&T Classic in Washington, D.C. She will whiff twice, a blunder that costs her the White House and comes to be known as the most significant golf shot never hit.
• A record will be set at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am when it takes only two holes before the players paired with entertainer Danny Gans beg for a different celebrity or at least a Marcel Marceau impersonator.
• Yes, golf fans, 2008 will be the year a golfer finally wins the Grand Slam. And that golfer is obviously Brett Quigley. Sure, he never has won a tournament in 17 years on tour, but these days only a fool would doubt the potential of an athlete from New England.
• Major League Baseball will agree to let Roger Clemens keep his Cy Young Awards but the PGA Tour will insist he give back the $20,000 he and Greg Norman won at the ADT Skills Challenge in November.
• Once again, Sergio Garcia will three-putt, then spit into the bottom of a cup at Bay Hill. Tournament host Arnold Palmer will applaud the effort, calling it the first time Garcia has consistently converted in nine years on tour.
• Swing coaches Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett will go into hiding after modifying their already controversial "Stack 'n' Tilt" swing theory to the "Stack 'n' Tilt-A-Whirl," a move that enables a golfer to hit the ball 300 yards but blows every disk in his back when he does it.
• Boo Weekley will be arrested during the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines after using his hunting rifle to shoot down a hang glider he thought was a bird.
• PGA Tour rookie Jason Day will set a record by showing up in the wrong city for three tour events. But who can blame him? New this year is the Northern Trust Open, taking place in Southern California. The CA Championship? Nope, that one's in Florida. Surely the Stanford St. Jude Championship takes place near the school, right? Try Memphis. Don't worry -- the Mayakoba Golf Classic is indeed in Mayakoba wherever that is.
• Rory Sabbatini will start endorsing a new spikeless golf shoe. Although it provides almost no on-course traction, he claims it's much less painful to put in his mouth.
• A new generation of launch monitors will become available on tour. By analyzing just one swing, the computer not only will give players' club and ball speed but also will tell by how many strokes they'll be losing to Tiger Woods that week.
• Toyota will enter the golf club business with a hybrid iron that uses electricity on the backswing and gasoline on the downswing.
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• Phil Mickelson and coach Butch Harmon will have a major breakthrough when Lefty points out that he's not actually left-handed.
• John Daly will win the inaugural Puerto Rico Open, then blow most of his prize money on duty-free liquor.
• Not knowing what to do with the long break caused by the Ryder Cup and the extra week off during the FedEx Cup playoffs, Vijay Singh will stumble upon his son's "Guitar Hero III" and won't be seen again until 2009.
• After injuring himself while gargling before the 2006 Barclays, Jim Furyk will finally speak out about the dangers of dental hygiene and spend most of the season dodging bottles of Scope thrown by angry members of the American Dental Association.
• Despite being edged by Quigley in all four majors, Woods will still win the FedEx Cup. The victory will bring his net worth to a number so large that mathematicians will receive awards when they calculate it.
• At the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open, JT will do irreparable damage to his sexiness when he pulls up to the first tee driving a miniature car and wearing a fez.
• Still angry about last year's Masters, Augusta National officials will add water hazards 80 yards out on every par-5 in order to "Zach-proof" the course.
• At the Ryder Cup, Woody Austin will try to rally the U.S. team by diving into a creek. Instead, he will contract a contagious water-borne virus, pass it on to Tiger and cost the U.S. its first win in nine years.
• Angel Cabrera, known more for his ability to drive the ball, will set a new tour record for putts per round. Sorry, I meant puffs per round.
• Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey will lead Woods in FedEx Cup points briefly. Go ahead and scoff, but the only thing the winner of Golf Channel's "Big Break VII" has to do is make a cut before Tiger tees it up three weeks from now.
• The Volvik Crystal will overtake Titleist's Pro-V1 as the No. 1 ball in golf.
OK, that's probably enough eggnog.
Happy 2008, enjoy the new season and, on the off chance any of these actually come true, I'll say it once to save you the trouble: "I told you so."
Bob Smiley is a TV writer and a contributor to ESPN.com's golf coverage. He also writes the golf blog Fore Right and can be reached at Bobsmiley77@gmail.com.