Sunday, February 5, 2012
Updated: February 7, 9:02 PM ET
Another 'debut' for Tiger Woods in '12
Each week during the 2012 golf season, ESPN's experts will weigh in on the pressing -- and not-so-pressing -- issues in the game.
This week, Tiger Woods makes his 2012 PGA Tour debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. This week's panel of experts will be on site covering the tournament. So what should we expect in California?
And we've started including the best tweets from you, the readers, who post answers to the questions sent out on our Twitter account, @ESPN_Golf, so make sure to share your opinions, and we'll include the best of the best.
1. What do you expect from Tiger Woods this week in terms of what kind of finish he'll have in his 2012 PGA Tour debut?
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: It would not be a surprise if Woods had a so-so week at Pebble Beach. Everybody remembers the blowout U.S. Open victory at Pebble and his amazing comeback during the tour event in 2000, but this tournament is played over three courses. It's been 10 years since he competed in this event, and even at his best he had just two top-10s.
Ron Kroichick, San Francisco Chronicle golf writer: He'll plant himself in contention on Sunday. He's played well in his past four starts, so he brings positive history at Pebble Beach (think 15-shot win in 2000 U.S. Open), and the field is unremarkable (only six of the top 20 players in the world rankings). Anything short of a top-five finish, with a chance to win down the stretch, will be disappointing.
Sarah Turcotte, ESPN The Magazine senior writer: Tiger will make the cut. He'll be in the hunt. This course was designed for him -- it's perfect for a silly start to his PGA Tour season.
Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: No clue. He hasn't played at Pebble since the U.S. Open in 2010 (T-4), hasn't played in the Pro-Am since 2002 (T-12) and has a new swing coach, swing and caddie since the last time he was here. Anything is possible -- including his first tour win on American soil since 2009.
2. What aspect of Tiger's game will be the most crucial at Pebble Beach?
Bob Harig: Tee shots. Whether it's the driver, a 3-wood stinger or a 5-wood, he needs to get the ball in play. We saw how well he did at Abu Dhabi when he was hitting fairways. We also saw how he struggled during the final round when he didn't.
Ron Kroichick: Putting and patience. Woods will resume winning when he resumes putting like Old Tiger, and the greens on the Monterey Peninsula in February are notoriously bumpy. He stopped playing the AT&T in 2002 after a short putt hopped, skipped and veered wide of the hole, prompting him to turn to Mark O'Meara and mutter in exasperation, "I don't need this." Now he's back, so he needs to deal with it.
Sarah Turcotte: Driver, driver, driver. Or 3-wood. With his length and knowledge of this course, it doesn't matter what he hits. If he's money off the tee, he's in the money.
Gene Wojciechowski: As always, I'll be watching how he drives the ball. And if he can run the skinny post for Tony Romo.
3. All eyes will be on Tiger at Pebble Beach, but which other player should fans be keeping an eye on?
Bob Harig: Jim Furyk. It was a disappointing 2011 for Furyk, who failed to win after capturing the FedEx Cup the year prior. This will be Furyk's season debut.
Ron Kroichick: Spencer Levin. The brash, cigarette-wielding tour pro from northern California flamed out Sunday in Scottsdale, but he knows his way around the Monterey Peninsula. Levin tied for fourth in last year's AT&T, and he also won the California State Amateur at Pebble Beach in 2004. Now, thanks to Kyle Stanley, he has a blueprint on how to abruptly recover from a final-round meltdown.
Sarah Turcotte: Spencer Levin is going to have a monster year. He played incredibly in Phoenix and then choked. I have a sneaky feeling he'll bounce back in a statement way. My dark(-ish) horse is Dustin Johnson. He's struggling so far this year but swears he's healthy. His athleticism should serve him well here and everywhere else, if he can putt.
Gene Wojciechowski: I'll be checking on the scores of Dustin Johnson, who had knee cartilage surgery in late November and finished T-61 at Phoenix ... and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who finished second at Indy.
4. With football so high in the American consciousness this week, which football name in the field at Pebble Beach would you liked to be paired with and why?
Bob Harig: None. Give me Bill Murray.
Ron Kroichick: Aaron Rodgers. If he's anywhere near as accurate with his approach shots as he is with his passes, he should clank a few off the flagstick.
Sarah Turcotte: Aaron Rodgers. His demeanor is so perfect for golf. He won't allow himself to be rattled. I wish Jay Feely had been invited; those two would have had a battle.
Gene Wojciechowski: That's easy: Herm Edwards. In fact, I'm hoping Herm shows up with the argyle socks and the plus fours. Herm = fun.