10 questions from the early season

Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie watches during the first day fourball at The Vivendi Trophy.

Questions, Questions, Questions.

The season is only a month old, but already there have been enough story lines for a whole year. My head is reeling from the number of issues affecting this normally genteel game.

Here are the questions troubling me at this very early part of the season.

  1. When will Tiger come back? I’m still gambling on Bay Hill, with Arnold Palmer welcoming him back into the fold. Although, given the way this story has run, nothing would surprise me.
  2. Who’ll be the first player disqualified for illegal grooves? It has to happen sometime given the mess that has ensued. Someone this year is bound to flout the rule, albeit inadvertently.
  3. Who will Colin Montgomerie choose as his vice-captains? US Ryder Cup captain Cory Pavin has named his. Monty says he’ll wait until after the Open Championship. Candidates should come with an ability to play second fiddle to Monty’s ego. Experience in handling a spoiled child would come in handy, too, just in case Colin throws his toys out of his pushchair during the match.
  4. Will this be the first four-day Ryder Cup? Given the absurd decision to stage the match in October, chances are we might get a downpour or two in the Welsh Valleys. Get ready for major scheduling problems at Celtic Manor should the skies open.
  5. Will Rickie Fowler win on the PGA Tour this year? I hope so, but I don’t envy the expectations placed on his young shoulders. Good kid, very personable, but he might have benefited from a lower key introduction to professional golf.
  6. When will Michael Campbell break par? As slumps go, Cambo’s ranks right up there with the best. He is a shadow of the player who won the 2005 US Open. His scoring average soared to 75.14 last year. He made just three cuts from 21 events and earned a measly 19,655 euros, finishing 249th on the European money list. His stroke average is 78 this year, and he’s missed the cut in all three events he’s played.
  7. How many golf courses will go to the wall? With numbers down and rounds taking longer, our game doesn’t seem to have the same appeal it used to have. Closures have already happened and more are inevitable.
  8. Will the Dubai World Championship take place? It’s penciled into the European Tour schedule, but there were doubts expressed about its viability when I spoke to some people in Abu Dhabi. Troubled property company Nakheel, which underwrites the Dubai World Championship, is still in financial trouble. As long as it is then the tournament’s fate is in the balance.
  9. Will the new extension to the Road Hole be a success? Purists don’t like the change made to the Old Course’s 17th hole for this year’s Open Championship. Shifting the tee back means the hole will look and play differently then in previous Opens. We’ll get an idea from the first few practice rounds at this year’s Open Championship. Expect the world’s best to bleat like sheep if the change means high scores.
  10. Will Wentworth delight or depress Europe’s elite? Major changes have been made to Wentworth’s West Course, venue for the European Tour’s flagship BMW PGA Championship. The changes, mostly to the putting surfaces, were made to try to attract back many players who skip the tournament – Padraig Harrington and Ian Poulter in particular. It could be an unqualified disaster should the players hate the new greens.
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