KAPALUA, Hawaii — The PGA Tour rings in the new year at Kapalua for the 20th beeline time. Afterwards all these years, the one moment that stands aloft all others was the titanic action amid Tiger Woods and Ernie Els in 2000.
Both fabricated hawkeye on the 18th aperture to force a playoff. Both fabricated baboon on the aboriginal added hole. Woods concluded it with a 35-foot baboon putt on the abutting aperture that was decline and into the atom with about 6 anxiety of break. Equally memorable was what Els said aback it was over:
“He’s 24. He’s apparently activity to be bigger than Elvis aback he gets into his 40s.”
Woods angry 42 on Saturday. He’s still not bigger than Jack Nicklaus aback it comes to golf’s ultimate yardstick, best majors won.
But he’s still Tiger, and that agency a lot.
He commands added absorption than above champions about bisected his age. And that’s why Woods, who makes golf must-see TV aback he’s playing, leads the account of bristles questions to accede for 2018.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM TIGER?
The catechism wasn’t abundant altered a year ago.
Woods alternate to the Hero Apple Challenge afterwards a 15-month accretion from two added aback surgeries, and added was fabricated of his 24 birdies than finishing 15th adjoin an 18-man acreage in an actionable anniversary event. Aback the new year began, he lasted three circuit over two tournaments and was out again.
This time, he is abiding from admixture anaplasty on his lower back. Best apparent aftermost ages in the Bahamas was his power, and Woods said in a contempo blog that he is hitting a abounding club best than he was before. Adding to the college akin of optimism is the bulk of golf he played arch up to his acknowledgment — and not the score, but the company. Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Daniel Berger all played with Woods and admired what they saw.
The admeasurement will be the abounding agenda that he wants to play, admitting he has not said what or area that would be. And if his bloom is as solid as he is absolution on, golf will get a abounding dosage of Woods in the majors for the aboriginal time aback 2015.
WHO’S ON THE PLANE TO FRANCE?
The Americans haven’t won the Ryder Cup on European clay aback 1993, two months afterwards Jordan Spieth was born.
The Americans won the aftermost Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and they alpha 2018 with the top three players in the apple baronial and bristles of the top eight. That agency they will be advantaged on paper, and best American golf admirers will be dismissive of Europe’s chances.
The added pertinent catechism is who goes to Paris for the matches?
Much absorption will be on Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t absent a aggregation antagonism aback 1993 and is atrocious to accomplish the abutting one. He hasn’t won aback 2013 and was a captain’s aces for the Presidents Cup.
The Americans had 14 players in their 20s win on the PGA Tour aftermost year, and six of them were on the Presidents Cup team. Odds are not all of those six will be in France, and U.S. captain Jim Furyk could accept some boxy choices for his picks.
WHAT WILL THE SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?
Sometime this summer, the PGA Tour will advertise a cogent check to a agenda that for years has been predictable.
This is the aftermost PGA Championship in August afore it moves to May in 2019. Paring the cardinal of PGA Tour contest to accomplish a Labor Day accomplishment to the FedEx Cup won’t be an affair with the accident of one playoff accident (Boston), affective one accident to the abatement (Greenbrier) and acceptable converting one into a Apple Golf Championship (Memphis).
The boxy allotment is addition out area aggregate abroad goes.
That starts with March, which currently appearance a brace of Apple Golf Championships (Mexico, Match Play) and abutting year adds The Players Championship. Something will accept to give. Also, appellation sponsorships charge be bound for the Houston Open and possibly Colonial.
HOW WILL RORY MCILROY RESPOND?
For the aboriginal time aback 2009, Rory McIlroy goes into a new year alfresco the top 10 in the world. Attribute that to acrimonious injuries that abiding him to booty a continued breach at the end of aftermost year to get his bloom and bold in order.
He will accept gone added than three months after antagonism aback he allotment in Abu Dhabi, the alpha of an aggressive agenda in which he will comedy eight times afore he gets to Augusta National.
Golf should accept a acceptable abstraction by again if McIlroy is aback in the conversation.
WHO MAKES IT BACK TO PARADISE?
Justin Thomas said he would adulation annihilation bigger than to alpha every year at Kapalua.
As acceptable as he is, there’s no guarantee.
Only nine players from the 32-man acreage aftermost year fabricated it aback to alpha 2018. Among the missing are Jason Day, who started aftermost year at No. 1, and Bubba Watson, missing from the Sentry Tournament of Champions for the aboriginal time in four years. Spieth absent out in 2015. Rickie Fowler wasn’t at Kapalua aftermost year.
There were 14 first-time winners aftermost year on the PGA Tour. It’s not accepting any easier to win.
That applies to Woods, too.
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