Hate to be Rude: Can’t-miss '11 predictions

Jeff Rude's season-opening "Hate to be Rude" column attempts to answer a number of questions about the 2011 season.

Jeff Rude's season-opening "Hate to be Rude" column attempts to answer a number of questions about the 2011 season.

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I don’t own a crystal ball or tarot cards. And I haven’t been to a psychic who reads dried coffee stains in several years. But I do have answers to a few questions as golf 2011 commences.

Q: Will Bubba Watson cry this year?

A: Does a pool of water surround the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass?

Q: What will make Bubba cry?

A: Victory, defeat and most things in between.

Q: How will you remember the late lawyer Leonard Decof?

A: As part of the six most feared words heard at PGA Tour and USGA headquarters over the years: “Leonard Decof is on the phone.”

Q: Will Anthony Kim sleep this year?

A: Only if Charley Hoffman cuts his hair.

Q: What will Phil Mickelson do next?

A: Last year, he tried to buy several Waffle Houses, ate at Five Guys Burgers every day during The Players and then announced in August that he’s a vegetarian. So who really knows?

Q: What will Graeme McDowell do for an encore?

A: Win two times worldwide in clutch fashion and buy stock in Guinness, one pint at a time.

Q: Whatever happened to U.S. Open runner-up Gregory Havret?

A: He was kidnapped a month before British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen was.

Q: Who are three players not named Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson whom you’d pay to watch play?

A: Dustin Johnson, Retief Goosen and Jose Maria Olazabal, even if he rides a cart in a recreational round.

Q: Who are the three best players under 30?

A: In order, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Dustin Johnson.

Q: Are you high on Rickie Fowler?

A: Very. His four birdies to finish the Ryder Cup buried thoughts of the layup in Phoenix and turned him back into Lanny Wadkins.

Q: Do you like the way Fowler dresses?

A: Yes, on Halloween. And yes, because golf has enough conformists.

Q: What’s your take on McIlroy’s hair?

A: Well, he’s had the Cookie the Clown look and the Frosted Perm. Can dreadlocks be far off?

Q: What’s the most incredible thing you’ve ever seen in golf?

A: You mean, besides the Cristie Kerr makeover several years ago?

Q: What are the three worst words in golf?

A: “Pay up, dude” edges “You’re still away” and “Cart path only.”

Q: Who will be this year’s Matt Kuchar?

A: Nick Watney. I have a hunch Watney might become a superstar. He’s long, has an all-around game, made noise in three 2010 majors and the Tour Championship, had eight top 10s last year and has Butch Harmon in his corner.

Q: Who will win the 2011 major championships?

A: Retief Goosen, Masters. Lee Westwood, U.S. Open. Rory McIlroy, British Open. Phil Mickelson, PGA.

Q: No Tiger Woods?

A: OK, so I’m more wise guy than wise man.

Q: Where will we see Ian Poulter stand out this year?

A: Everywhere he goes, considering the clothes he wears.

Q: Who’s the best player in the world?

A: Lee Westwood. He’s clearly the game’s best ball-striker and regularly contends in the big stuff. The different question now is, Can Woods elevate his game to get into Westwood’s league?

Q: Since Woods won 51 percent of his starts from July 2006 through 2009, why did he change his swing?

A: Good question.

Q: What’s the central question surrounding the 2011 Tour?

A: Which Woods will show up? The one who won more than half of his Tour starts during those 3 1/2 years? Or the inconsistent one who had but two top-10 finishes last year when coming out of sex scandal?

Q: So what’s the answer?

A: Someone in between.

Q: So how will that translate in terms of numbers?

A: Four trees hit, three wins, two close calls in majors, one missed cut, no hydrants.

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