10 QUESTIONS FOR 2006

December 12, 2005

1] Will the U.S. ever win another Ryder Cup?

Yes, but if the boys (winless since 1999) can't do it in Ireland, it could be awhile. The U.S. team that won the Presidents Cup had only two players under 35--Justin Leonard and Tiger Woods.

2] One full season into his latest swing overhaul, can Woods get even better?

Definitely. Imagine if he were to hit 71.2% of his fairways, as he did in 2000, rather than the 54.6% of last year.

3] Will Michelle Wie finally win a professional tournament?

No, not yet. As a full-time high school student making only cameos on various tours, consistency will be a problem.

4] What about Chris DiMarco--will he win another freakin' tournament already?

Yes. DiMarco's big-game heroics have led to a rep as a clutch player even as he has continued to kick away Tour events. All he needs is a few breaks on any given Sunday to get his first win since 2002.

5] Will the winning score at the Masters be over par?

Depends on the weather. The 1999 Masters was the last time Augusta National played the way it's supposed to--brick hard and frighteningly fast--and only 13 players broke par. Since then the course has added rough and a forest of trees, and after yet another retrofit this year it's now a 7,445-yard monster. If it is dry in Georgia in April, the Masters will be a bloodbath.

6] Can Paula Creamer bump Annika Sorenstam from atop the LPGA money list?

Yes, because of the disparity in starts. Creamer finished second on the money list by a little more than $1 million. Sorenstam, 35, has continued to consolidate her schedule, playing in only 20 events in '05 compared with 25 for Creamer.

7] Can a surgically repaired Ernie Els finally have a monster year?

He had better, because the onetime boy wonder will never come into a season more rested.

8] Is Jay Haas tough enough to rule the Champions tour?

Doubtful. He could have asserted his dominance at the Champions tour's season finale with a third straight triumph, but instead he blew a big lead on Sunday, his longtime bugaboo.

9] Will Medinah, the site of the PGA Championship, inspire Sergio García to finally claim his first major--or, for that matter, can another of the underachieving twentysomethings finally get it done?

Now that Woods is about to hit the big three-oh, García, Adam Scott and Luke Donald need to sort out who is the best young player. Unfortunately, they all have serious afflictions: García and Scott wield shaky putters, while Donald has yet to prove he can take the Sunday heat.

10] Will there be a throttled-back ball for pro competition?

A definite maybe. Woods has been talking as if such a ball is inevitable, and he always seems to be the first to know.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)