|Volume 41Golfing Weekly Home PageWeek of January 3, 2004
Table of Contents
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2005 Season Preview
"Off the Cart Path", our popular weekly cartoon strip by Roy Doty
Official World Golf Rankings
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and successful 2005. Everyone involved in golfing Weekly is looking forward to having a great year as many of the things we were working on in 2004 are now starting to take shape. I'm also looking forward to a great year of golf and this issue of Golfing Weekly is a short one with just my preview of 2005 before the regular weekly tournament reports kick off again next week.
That's about it for now. Have a great week.
All the best
|2005 Season Preview
The 2005 PGA Tour season is now under way with the Mercedes Championship in Hawaii. The 31 PGA Tour event winners of 2004 are at Kapalua competing for the first $1million+ paycheck of the new year. The "big three" who are well clear at the top of the world rankings, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els all have an excellent track record at this event and it will be interesting to see how they fare this time around. Although 2004 was without a doubt Vijay's year, Tiger's finish was the hottest with two straight victories after the official schedule had been completed and in the last two years, Ernie Els has won on three of his four January starts in Hawaii and will be looking to get off to another good start.
Last year, Stuart Appleby held off Singh's final round charge to take the title and will be back to defend against a field that includes many players looking to show that last year's performance was not just a flash in the pan. Of the players who picked up their first PGA Tour titles last year I would expect the strongest challenge to come from Rookie of the Year, Todd Hamilton. However he performs at the Mercedes, I believe Hamilton will have another outstanding year and establish himself as a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.
I had intended to steer clear of making predictions but cannot stop myself from expressing my belief that Tiger Woods is going to make 2005 a year to remember. It is not inconceivable that now his new swing has "clicked" he could take back the world number one spot, the season earnings record and maybe ten titles or more including a couple of majors. Three months ago, such a prediction would have seemed ridiculous but when you look at what happened the last time his performances suffered while he incorporated improvements into his swing, a spectacular return to form is by no means out of the question.
Of course the relentlessly hard-working Singh will want to have some say in the matter and, provided he concentrates on his own game, the Fijian could make it tough for Tiger. Although Els is close on the heels of these two as the world number three, I can see his countryman, Retief Goosen, gaining ground and possibly coming out as the more successful of the South Africans in 2005. Phil Mickelson's questionable timing in changing clubs just before the Ryder Cup may turn out to be for the long term good of his game if his 59 towards the end of last year is anything to go by. Only time will tell.
Some other players to watch out for again this year will be the leading young guns, especially Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia who are unlikely to finish the season empty-handed. But let's not forget the over 40's. Every season a few of the longer established players show that they still have what it takes and this year is unlikely to be any different. I'll be keeping my eye on Mark O'Meara who only has a couple of years left before he moves up to the Champions Tour. Last year he won on the European Tour and it would be good to see him pick up another title before leaving the main PGA Tour. Also, Fred Couples is still a class act and Jay Haas is still making his prescence felt at 50 years old.
It will be interesting to see how two PGA Tour rookies from England get on. Ian Poulter qualified for his card as a member of the European Ryder Cup team and Brian Davis won the PGA Tour Qualifying School Final Tournament. I expect them both to take a while to adjust to the unfamiliar set-up of the courses but would not be surprised to see them earn enough to keep their cards for 2006.
Another European player I expect to see having a better season than in 2004 is Thomas Björn. Despite taking second place at the WGC-American Express Championship and moving up to 73rd on the PGA Tour money list, it appears that Björn will not be using his playing privileges in the States this year. However, if his start to the European Tour season is any indication (2 top 10 finishes from 2 starts pre-xmas) he could well figure high on the Volvo Order of Merit in 2005 as that is where he looks to be concentrating his efforts. Watch out Harrington, Clarke & Co.
I could carry on forever but will close this preview with a quick mention for the LPGA Tour. Annika Sorenstam still seems unstoppable at the top and although she may not talk about it quite so loudly this year I'm sure she will be striving to pick up most if not all the Ladies' majors in 2005. Teen amateur, Michelle Wie continues to keep her press profile high as she enters the men's Sony Open (next week) again this year after missing the cut in 2004 by just one shot. I'll also be watching and reporting on the progress of another youngster, Paula Creamer, who has just turned pro after an outstanding amateur career. I wish her good luck in her rookie year.
Here's to a great 2005 for one and all.
The full standings can be found at the Official World Golf Ranking website, www.officialworldgolfranking.com