Last summer was the year of the woman in golf. The most compelling stories came courtesy of Annika Sorenstam's foray into the PGA, Michelle Wie's emergence as a 13-year-old phenomenon and Grace Park's gloriously tight golf shirts. The ladies didn't provide as many memorable moments in the summer of 2004 - although the U.S. Ryder Cup team played like teenage girls last weekend - but the season still gave us plenty to remember.
Here's a look back at the summer that was, along with predictions for the future.
The way the Americans were spraying tee shots and missing two-foot tap-ins, I thought I was watching highlights of the Liquor Barn staff scramble, not the most important tournament of the year. Mike Weir looked more composed in the final round of the Bell Canadian Open than the Americans did at Chokeland Hills. No wonder they call them Yanks.
PREDICTION: As we all know, the U.S. responds in one of three ways when it isn't winning something. A) They dismiss it as unimportant (hockey and curling); B) They visit the pharmacy (Olympics); C) They blame the CIA (Iraq). So two years from now in Ireland, don't be surprised if the Americans show up looking like Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis - either that or the Marines show up looking for WMDs in the bunkers.
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SINGH AND DANCE
How does a guy put together one of the greatest seasons in golf history - only Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus have won seven times in a season since 1970 - and still fade into the background like human wallpaper?
If Vijay Singh had an ounce of flair or charisma he'd be the biggest thing in sports, instead he's a walking yawn. They're planning a reality show based on Singh's life, but instead of sending cameras to his house they'll just run silent footage from mall security cameras after closing time. It'll save production costs and viewers will never notice the difference.
PREDICTION: In an attempt to lighten his image, he raids Duffy Waldorf's closet and goes keggin' with John Daly. The three of them form a band:Vijay the Deejay and the Singh Alongs. He gains 30 pounds and only wins once in 2005, but the chain-smoking Fijian with the stylish dreadlocks is never more popular.
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SECOND AND 17
Lori Kane, the nicest person in golf, finishes runner up an incredible 17th time with her playoff loss at the LPGA Safeway Classic last weekend. Seventeen? There wouldn't be that many second-place finishes if Craig Stadler challenged Mark Boswell to a weekly high-jump contest. Kane is a sweetheart, the best female golfer we've ever produced, and it takes enormous skill to be in contention so often, but with four career wins and 17 career bridesmaids' dresses there's a serious character flaw there.
PREDICTION: She and perennial major-champion runner-up Phil Mickelson open a new restaurant called "Second Helpings." The place does a fine business; it's very popular with the out-of-shape crowd, but every time Phil and Lori dine there they end up choking.
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Tiger Woods goes all year without a major, loses his No. 1 world ranking and flops at the Ryder Cup. The first instinct would be to blame the downturn on his engagement to Elin Nordegren. And that would be correct; it's hard to walk the course with a ball and chain. So does that make her the Yoko Ono of golf? Not hardly. It makes Tiger human. For starters, Yoko was never an ultra-hot blond nanny. Secondly, Tiger is 28, has more millions in the bank than most people have thousands and is still one of the 10 best players in the world. So he can either practise eight hours a day like he used to, or practise five hours and go home to Elin and the mansion. Before you criticize the guy, ask yourself: What would you do?
PREDICTION: Tiger and Elin's daughter, Fairway, grows up to look like Angelina Jolie and play like Annika Sorenstam on growth hormones. She's in the PGA when she's 11, wins her first major at 14 and beats up Davis Love IV when she's 16.
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PHIL OR EMPTY?
After a thrilling Masters win that finally lifted the majors monkey off his back, this was supposed to be Mickelson's year. But when it ended, there couldn't have been a worse taste in his mouth if he was chomping earthworms on Fear Factor. There aren't many decisions more selfish than changing equipment to make more sponsorship loot just days before the Ryder Cup. Then he skips a U.S. team practice on Thursday. Then he loses two close matches with two of the worst shots we've ever seen a pro hit under pressure. Phil is a guy we all love to cheer for and, after the Augusta win it didn't seem possible, but his golden-boy image took a pounding this season.
PREDICTION: In an effort to win back his fans, he plays guitar for the Singh Alongs, but gets kicked out of the band for changing from Gibson to Fender two days before Woodstock III. At the 2014 Ryder Cup, Lefty is paired with a dour Fairway Woods and goes 0-4.