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The New Year begins with a familiar question about Woods

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KAPALUA, Hawaii – The biggest field for winners ever in Kapalua may give the impression that getting to Heaven isn’t as difficult as it used to be.

Try saying that to Dustin Johnson, who won’t be starting a new year in Maui for the second time since joining the PGA Tour in 2008. Locals have become accustomed to Johnson walking around the Honolua store at the dawn to order your egg whites. and brown rice.

Winning is difficult, even for the best.

It’s just as difficult to predict how a new year will unfold.

As strange as it seemed a year ago that Johnson wasn’t among the 39-man squad at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, consider who is here. Phil Mickelson, who has turned down his invitation to the winners’ event 14 times in the past two decades, has found 8 million reasons to play at 51.

By winning the Player Impact Program and its $ 8 million bonus, Lefty had to add a new tournament to his schedule. So he decided to play golf in Maui.

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Where will it lead? Here are five things to think about for the New Year, which begin with a question that seems to repeat itself every year: What future for Tiger Woods?

TIGER OBSERVATION

The Daily Mail published Pictures de Woods this week at Los Angeles International Airport wearing a hoodie that most appropriately read, “Straight Outta Ice Bath.”

There is still a long way to go to recover from multiple right leg injuries in a car crash on February 23. It took only three days to play with her son in the PNC Championship, where they finished second, to rock the golf world about its upcoming comeback.

The only certainty is that Woods will not play a full program. The swing did not leave him. But he was allowed to ride in a cart at the PNC Championship, and the format was a rush. It’s a far cry from anything that looks like serious competition from a distance.

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Count on his presence at the Players Championship, at least for his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. It’s also a safe bet that he will be at Augusta National for the Masters Club Champions Dinner. As for playing? It depends on his ability to navigate the most difficult step on tour.

The only big hill to climb in St. Andrews is the Swilcan Bridge, and given its love for ties, an appearance at the 150th British Open is a popular choice.

In the meantime, he only has to post an occasional video for everyone to guess.

THE SAUDI LEAGUE

Talking about a rival league backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is starting to sound like a chicken game. Who will be the first to register?

It’s been over two months since Greg Norman handpicked the media to cover the creation of his LIV Golf investments and the $ 200 million investment in the Asian Tour, which he said was “just the beginning “and promised” new additional opportunities. “

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Since then, the Shark have filled their C-Suite but have yet to name any players keen to join a new league. The PGA Tour takes it seriously enough to close the winnings of $ 500 million and develop plans to compensate its biggest stars.

A pivotal date could be the first week of February, when more than two dozen PGA Tour players have signed up to earn big bucks to play in the Saudi International.

GRAND CHELEM

Mickelson has proven that age is just a number when it comes to winning a major tournament. His victory in the PGA Championship at 50 made him the oldest major champion in history and created hope that a US Open – the missing piece of Grand Slam career – is still on the line.

He’s not alone in his pursuit, which leads to another question: will the next member of the most elite golf club likely be Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth?

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McIlroy has gone to Augusta National for the past seven years with a career Grand Slam shot with only one serious chance in 2018, when he played in the final group with Patrick Reed and shot 74.

Spieth won Game 3 in 2017 and now only needs the PGA Championship. His game appears to have returned to normal after winning the Texas Open. Unlike the Masters, the PGA Championship is on the move and some venues are more suitable than others. Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma would appear to offer one of the best opportunities for Spieth.

THE HILL CLIMBING

Collin Morikawa lost one opportunity to reach world number 1 when he gave up a five-stroke lead in the final round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. He gets another shot in Kapalua, although Jon Rahm has a say in defending his first place.

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But it’s more than the # 1 ranking, which comes and goes.

Morikawa has played two full seasons on the PGA Tour and already has two majors, and his profile is growing every month. Winning another major tournament this year would put it in elite territory. Dating back to 1960, only six players have won major tournaments in three consecutive years: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka.

PRESIDENTS CUP

Who wins the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow isn’t as interesting as who does – or who doesn’t – the US team.

More than just giving Europe their worst loss in the Ryder Cup, the Americans had a young, arrogant and cohesive core team. How many of them will make it to Quail Hollow in September?

Remember, the US team that won the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine by a 17-11 margin had just seven players who reached the Presidents Cup the following year.

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Among those who have been left out this year was Sam Burns, who is now world No.10. Matthew Wolff regained his joy and his form at the end of the year. Big hitter Jason Kokrak won twice last year. Something – or someone – will have to give.

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